Forest Pest Management in BC

Forest Pest Management in BC
Dan Heppner, Healthy Forests-Healthy Communities

Forest Pest Management in BC

Forest management in BC currently lacks an overall vision, goals and objectives. I agree with the recommendations in the Healthy Forests – Healthy Communities report that there should be a change in focus from short‐term economics to long-term stewardship. A critical component of forest-management, landscape level planning, is also lacking. Planning in BC is primarily at the cut-block level and is carried out by the forest industry. There needs to be better government oversight and involvement in planning to ensure long-term stewardship. Planning at the landscape level is critical to forest pest management.

Forest management in BC currently lacks an overall vision, goals and objectives. I agree with the It should be acknowledged that we are experiencing an economic downturn of western civilization and there are unlikely to be the resources that we would like to see invested in forestry. The current situation may be the new reality; we may have to lower our expectations. Just the same, there is much that could be improved. Pest management is essential to the long-term stewardship of BC’s forests and the subsequent provision of goods and services to the public.

I believe the biggest pest management concerns in BC are associated with the effects of a changing climate and the accidental introduction of exotic insects and diseases from other countries. The affects of climate change are already impacting our forests severely (e.g. mountain pine beetle and Dothistroma needle blight) and serious exotic pests have already been introduced and established (e.g. white pine blister rust and balsam woolly adelgid). The biology of trees and pests are closely linked to each other and the environment. The anticipated changes in the climate will alter these biological relationships with pests likely being more positively affected than their long-lived, and increasingly stressed, tree hosts. Further climate change impacts are anticipated.

Forest pests are introduced from foreign countries annually. Improved climate conditions for pests will likely improve the probabilities that they will become established. Our formerly cold winters have limited the establishment of these accidentally introduced pests and have been our best natural defense. It is probable that some of these introduced pests will have serious impacts in the not too distant future.

If we are to mitigate pest impacts, forest health staffing and funding need to be maintained and augmented. Monitoring and research capabilities need to be improved. Current monitoring is probably adequate for medium to large scales. However, monitoring at finer scales for both native and exotic pests is essential as many pest management interventions are best applied at incipient stages. Research is needed to improve our understanding of pest/host relationships so that the affects of climate change can be anticipated. On‐going research leading to the development of novel control techniques is also necessary. I believe that current forest health capabilities in BC are insufficient to adequately deal with pest management issues now and into the future. Political parties need to be cognizant of this and act
accordingly.

Don Heppner, Retired forest entomologist with 30 years experience with the BC Ministry of Forests

 

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