$296 million in funding to fight mountain pine beetle
The Government of Alberta says its investment in aggressive control strategies, along with some help from Mother Nature, are reducing mountain pine beetle populations in Alberta.
Survey results from Slave Lake west to Grande Prairie and Grande Cache show mountain pine beetle populations decreased over the winter. In parts of central Alberta and areas north of Peace River they remained the same or increased only slightly.
“Alberta has made significant investments in science, hard work and aggressive strategies to protect our environment, forest industry and forest communities from pine beetle infestations,” says Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen.
“These findings show we are on the right track and will help us concentrate our ongoing efforts for positive results.”
Alberta’s forest industry also welcomed the survey results.
“The partnership between government and industry has been successful in protecting the pine component of Alberta’s forest industry”, says Alberta Forest Products Association President and Chief Executive Officer Brady Whittaker. “Thanks to exceptional government leadership on this issue, our members will be able to continue to make significant economic and social contributions to the 50 communities throughout Alberta that we operate in.”
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Beetle population surveys were conducted this year between May and June at 179 sites. Surveys involved cutting core samples from trees and comparing the number of dead versus live beetle larvae under the bark. Results indicate the number of new beetle-infested trees is expected to decline in some areas of the province.
In portions of Alberta’s pine forests where the numbers are likely to increase, the findings will help set priorities for control work in the coming year.
Alberta recently allocated $40 million to the mountain pine beetle program to fund survey and control work and reforestation of areas where attacks have damaged pine forests. The funding brings the total the province has allocated to fighting the beetle to $296 million since 2004 to 2005.
“Funding allows us to continue Alberta’s concerted campaign to protect our forests against mountain pine beetles while insect populations are still relatively low,” said McQueen.
“Our strategies are achieving results, especially in southwest Alberta, but much work remains to be done to fight this threat against our environment, watersheds, fish and wildlife habitat and the general health of our forests.”
Six-million hectares of pine forest in Alberta are susceptible to attacks by mountain pine beetle. Infestations threaten broad social, economic, and environmental values – including the province’s $4-billion forest industry, says McQueen.
Objectives of the beetle management program are to prevent infestations spreading north and south along the eastern slopes, and further eastward in the boreal forest.
For more information on mountain pine beetle surveys and survival by region.