Pine beetle claims refuted
Re: Kieran Report, Aug. 23-29
In his attempt to blame the NDP government of the 1990s for the pine beetle epidemic in B.C.’s forests, Brian Kieran claims that the “infestation was first detected in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and could have been contained there if forest companies had been permitted to go into the park and selectively log infested areas” — an argument that has been roundly refuted by everyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of the issue. Even the Liberal government acknowledges that while there was a beetle infestation at Tweedsmuir, there were concurrent infestations throughout the Interior, from the Kootenays and the Chilcotin to the Central Interior.
The same government scientists point out that the biggest culprit in the spread of the beetle was lack of cold winters. In other words, even clear-cutting the park — which was being advocated by some — would have had no actual impact on the overall pine beetle outbreak.
Unfortunately, the ultimate response in the face of the unstoppable outbreak was to allow the forests to degrade. Rather than be up front about the state of the forests, the B.C. Liberals stopped doing forest inventories and drastically reduced the amount of treeplanting and silviculture work necessary for long-term forest sustainability.
Only by investing in the natural infrastructure can we ensure the stability of the industry. Doing so will require us to start from a factual, scientific basis — not disproved arguments placing blame where none exists.
Norm Macdonald, NDP MLA,B.C. Forestry critic