Voracious beetles Wipe out 9 million hectares of pine trees

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A huge swarm of pine beetles has created a trail of destruction spanning nine million hectares or 35,000 square miles. British Columbia’s forests have had around 40% of their trees wiped out by the insects, according to a report issued on Monday.

Pine beetle

The report by British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests highlights the fact that the infestation has decimated over 530 million cubic metres of wood over a period of eight years, which is around 40% of the region’s supply of commercial lumber.

The beetles have traditionally feasted on pine for thousands of years. However, nature has controlled their spread through extreme weather and forest fires. This year, global warming seems to be the culprit responsible for the increase in pine beetle population.

It’s not all bad news however. Reuters said:

“Trees killed by the beetles can be harvested for several years after they have died, but the provincial researchers said that more needs to be known about how long that wait can be.

“The report said that, based on current assumptions on sawlog shelf-life, some areas of the province now hit by the infestation could see a decline in timber supply within four or five years.”

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