BC’s beetle outbreak spurs overreaction

The effort to curb Western Canada’s pine beetle infestation and salvage dead trees is creating its own problems, according to a study released on Thursday by environmental and labor groups.

The infestation has sparked “the forest industry equivalent of a gold rush” as producers scramble to salvage millions of dead trees before they degrade and become unusable, according to the study.

“The cure is turning out to be far worse than the disease. Too many trees are being logged in today’s salvage-logging boom,” according to the report for groups including the Sierra Club of Canada and the United Steelworkers union, which represents logging workers.

According to the study, prepared by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, British Columbia’s logging rates have become environmentally unsustainable.

British Columbia’s logging rates have always been unsustainable, with AAC (annual allowable cuts) set by industry needs, rather than biological realities.

The report also criticized media reporting on the beetles, saying it misled the public by portraying the outbreak in “apocalyptic terms” and leaving the impression that infested forests are “one giant dead zone.”…

The only natural way the infestation can be stopped is with sudden and severe winter cold snaps in either early fall or late spring, or massive wildfires that kill infected forests, according to biologists.

The infestation is part of a natural cycle, that has been made worse by decades of forests management that promoted large scale pine monocultures, and by the lack of severe cold snaps which may be contributed to climate change, but it is not the apocalyptic disaster that is often portrayed in the media.

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