FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Scientists with the federal government are now suggesting the climate change conditions, which caused BC’s devastating Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak just prior to the turn of the century, will have engineered an earlier-than-anticipated full recovery by 2020.
The infestation began in 1999, and it’s estimated that it attacked about 18 million hectares of lodge pole pine in this province at its peak in 2005.
All the dead and rotting trees temporarily made the forests carbon sources, which emitted more greenhouse gasses than they absorbed.
Now, new research shows the forests are growing faster and regaining their normal function as carbon sinks, due to similar warmer than usual climate conditions. They seem to be absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and acting as a buffer from the impacts of rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The study forecasts the balance will shift back by the end of the decade, with extra wood growth due to climate change more than making up for the emissions caused by the beetle kill.
Due to the lack of moisture in many areas of the province, including this one, there are still new forest fire related emission concerns.
The Wildfire Management Branch of the BC Wildfire Service says it will be later this week before it’s finished processing the data necessary to offer an early fire season prediction.
Meantime, while it focuses on its annual forest preservation challenges, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations continues to focus on the current negotiation challenges for a new agreement with the Americans for the industry which harvests the forests.
While Steve Thomson says B.C. continues to provide significant input to Canadian negotiators, in the Softwood Lumber talks, he seemed to make it clear he isn’t ready to offer anything else on that subject.