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Canada’s fir trees die quickly from insects

Fir trees are dying at a high rate in Canada’s Pacific Northwest, with researchers sounding the alarm for more action to protect forests.

Following severe droughts and heat waves that have hit Canada and the United States in recent years, a researcher told CTV’s Your Morning that fir trees have died in record numbers.

In addition to the climatic impact, bark beetles wreak havoc.

“There is a bark beetle associated with Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, balsam fir, etc.,” Suzanne Simard, professor of forestry and ecology at the University of British Columbia, told Your Morning on Wednesday. CTV. “Right now, in changing climatic conditions, bark beetles are experiencing a real resurgence across Canada.”

The small beetles burrowed through the tree, undermining the layer between the bark and the wood, the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Industry website says. Insects can cause widespread tree mortality during outbreaks, the website says.

The beetles often attack old trees, which can harm Canada’s boreal forests.

“The Douglas fir bark beetle is certainly active in British Columbia, as well as the spruce bark beetle and the fir bark beetle,” Simard said. “When (trees are) under climatic stress, for example, droughts and the heat dome that we had, all of that predisposes those trees to further infections.”

The largest outbreak of mountain pine beetles occurred in the 1990s and 2000s in British Columbia, according to the Department of Natural Resources Canada website. More than 18 million hectares of forest have been affected, leading to the loss of 53% of the merchantable volume of pines by 2012.

According to Simard, if the tree is dead but “in good condition”, the wood can be made into lumber and not wasted. It’s called “recovery logging”, but she said this solution could be overused.

“I think it can go a bit far, in my opinion, because there are often healthy trees in and among dying trees, and salvage logging can take healthy trees at the same time,” Simard said. . “So I think we have to be very careful not to harvest those areas, because the next generation of trees are really appearing under those dying trees.”

Simard says more research is needed when it comes to saving wood for harvesting.

“We really need to understand all the impacts of these kinds of cleanup operations on ecosystems, because it can be very damaging,” she said.

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