Independent Report Outlines Changed Approach to Pine Beetle Management

VICTORIA – While current mountain pine beetle management in B.C. is reasonably effective, a change in approach in heavily infested areas could potentially produce better results and should be explored by government agencies, the Forest Practices Board reported today.

The board’s special report, entitled Evaluating Mountain Pine Beetle Management in British Columbia, is the first study of B.C.’s mountain pine beetle crisis to compare the effectiveness of previously completed on-the-ground beetle control harvesting, in a specific forest district, against alternative beetle management strategies. The report used an innovative computer simulation model to examine potential beetle management scenarios between 1996 and 2003 in the Nadina forest district, located in the Burns Lake area.

The report evaluates various beetle management scenarios against three criteria: maintaining environmental values defined by government, such as soil and streamside protection and biodiversity: effectiveness in reducing the amount of beetle-killed timber and the beetle populations themselves; and maximizing the volume of salvageable timber in beetle-infested areas.

Under the current mountain pine beetle management approach known as “leading edge,” the focus is to aggressively harvest recently infested “green” trees in order to mitigate timber losses and to reduce the rate of beetle spread. The report notes that the current approach to mountain pine beetle management is effective at recovering timber values and meeting environmental goals, however, it has not significantly slowed the spread or intensity of the infestation.

The simulation model found that, in areas where the rate of beetle infestation has reached epidemic levels, a “trailing edge” strategy focused on “red” trees initially attacked 1-3 years ago, would be more effective in reducing beetle populations and maximizing the recovery of economically salvageable timber.

“This report confirms the recent research that supports the use of trailing edge beetle management strategies under epidemic conditions, and also has the potential of reducing costs and increasing revenues to the Crown,” said Board chair Bruce Fraser. “We encourage the Ministry of Forests to conduct further work to see if this approach might be a useful complement to the current leading edge strategy, which we believe is still the best approach to address lower levels of beetle infestation.”

A board compliance audit is also included in the report. The audit found the licensees operating in the beetle-infested Hallett landscape unit within the Vanderhoof forest district to be in compliance, in all significant respects, with the Forest Practice Code’s requirements as they relate to mountain pine beetle management, for activities between September 1, 2002, and September 26, 2003.

“The scope and rapid progression of the mountain pine beetle outbreak are unprecedented, and it will have a significant impact on the forest industry and resource communities for decades to come,” said Fraser. “New research, and practical experience managing beetle infestations on the ground, can make conventional strategies obsolete very quickly. Board reports and field work on mountain pine beetle issues will continue to evolve to reflect the latest scientific findings.”

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent. The board’s mandate has been retained under the new Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). The board’s main roles under FRPA are:

  • Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
  • Auditing government enforcement of FRPA.
  • Investigating public complaints.
  • Undertaking special investigations of forestry issues.
  • Participating in administrative appeals.
  • Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.


Erik Kaye

Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 356-1586 / 1 800 994-5899