British Columbia (B.C.) has a wide-ranging response to the mountain pine beetle epidemic, which is expected to run its course by 2021. The province is focused on reforestation, forest inventory, product innovation and intensive silviculture. To date, it is estimated that more than 18.5 million hectares (45.7 million acres) of B.C.'s Interior forests are affected to some degree.
B.C.’s Chief Forester temporarily increased allowable harvest levels in areas affected by the beetle to recover economic value from the beetle-affected trees and speed replanting. The government has also offered licences to encourage alternative emerging industries such as woodbioenergy and pellet plants.
The focus on harvesting the standing dead pine allows other healthy species to remain in the forest to help support values such as biodiversity, wildlife habitat and to supply lumber mills 20 to 50 years from now.
In the next 10–20 years, as the beetle-affected timber no longer becomes salvageable, the province’s overall supply of mature timber in the Interior is expected to decrease by about 20%, when compared to harvest levels before the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
B.C. forest companies are legally required to reforest sites they log on public land within a specified time period. Reforestation will consider methods to prevent future widespread epidemics with improved natural seedlings that are bred to grow faster and be more resilient, and managing species, age and other parameters.
Through the collective efforts of B.C. forest companies, trade associations, research institutes and academia, new and innovative product applications continue to be investigated and developed. The epidemic has created new opportunities for communities through the emerging bioenergy industry and through development of new and innovative uses for beetle wood, including value-added opportunities. Examples of alternative processing include production of oriented strand board (OSB), cogeneration of electricity and pellets for bioenergy.