The mountain pine beetle population is “crashing” in British Columbia’s central Interior, prompting Chief Forester Jim Snetsinger to reduce timber harvests in the Prince George and Quesnel timber supply areas.
The beetle population is on the steep downward side of a bell curve, Snetsinger said in an interview Friday. At the height of the epidemic three to five years ago, billions of beetles had attacked 16.3 million hectares of trees. By March, 2010, beetles had killed the equivalent of 675 million cubic metres of timber, making it one of North America’s worst-ever environmental disasters.
“Now it’s crashing,” Snetsinger said. “The mountain pine beetle population is decreasing. It is still killing trees, but not as many.”
As a consequence, Snetsinger has cut back the allowable annual cut in both the Prince George and Quesnel timber supply areas. The two regions cover the central Interior and account for much of the province’s pine timber harvest. Snetsinger reduced the allowable annual cut for the Merritt timber supply area in December, noting the beetle was on the decline there as well.
The allowable harvest in Interior timber supply areas has been elevated for almost a decade to permit forest companies to gain maximum economic value from the dead and dying trees.