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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Battling the Beetle: Taking Action to Restore British Columbia's Interior Forests

Report by Ben Parfitt

In this paper Ben Parfitt discusses, in detail, the crisis he believes is looming in the Interior forests of British Columbia. As he explains, there is a large Mountain Pine Beetle infestation killing millions of pine trees in BC. Adding to the problem: the beetle population has been able to thrive due to the large number of older pines and the warmer, drier weather caused by global warming. Finally, according to Parfitt, Interior logging rates are increasing in response to the beetle infestation. Taken together, these factors have led him to suggest that concerns over the future of BC forests is justified.

In the first section of the report, Parfitt discusses a reforestation effort undertaken by the BC provincial government between 1985 and 1995. As he explains, however, the reforestation effort lost its public funding just as beetles became a problem. Parfitt then considers responsibility for the reforestation effort; he findsreforestation obligations changed dramatically in 1987 when responsibility for re-planting logged areas was transferred from the Crown (the BC Government) to the logging companies. This regulatory change did not consider which party would be responsible in the event of pest-infested forestland.

Parfitt believes companies should not be responsible for dealing with the issue; rather, he contends, it is the Government of British Columbia that should take action to deal with the problem. Accordingly, he outlines a plan for the provincial government to address the problem – a plan which involves,what he terms, as the ‘three Rs:’ research, restoration, and reforestation. Parfitt’s plan includes surveying and rigorous sampling, allowing for natural restoration through fire and grassland development, and the planting of new trees. He concludes the section with nine specific recommendations including a five-year restoration program with a budget of $100 million per year, assistance from the federal government, an increase in the BC Forest Service in areas affected by the infestation, limits to commercial logging, and an increase in cooperation between the BC Forest service and logging companies.

In the second section Parfitt focuses on how to fund the extensive program for which he advocates. He suggests this might be accomplished by increasing the revenues generated by the logging of publicly owned forests – a practice Parfitt believes has been traditionally undervalued by the provincial government. This money, he explains, should be reinvested so as to ensure that at least a portion of the capital created by “today’s logging boom” can be use to improve British Columbia’s forests for the long term.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Ben Parfitt;
Publisher: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2005; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: Provincial;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Regional & Sectoral / Forestry
Policy Articles / Regional & Sectoral / Forestry / 2005
Policy Articles / Regional & Sectoral

Keywords / Tags:

British Columbia; forest; interior forest; Mountain Pine Beetle; BC Forest Service; logging; reforestation; research; restoration; provincial government; forest restoration program; climate change; beetle infestation;