January 29, 2007

Federal government commits $200M to fight mountain pine beetle in BC

The federal government is providing $200 million to support measures to fight the mountain pine beetle and address its impacts on communities and forests in British Columbia. The new Mountain Pine Beetle Program will focus on: slowing the spread of the beetle; recovering economic value from trees killed by the beetles; and protecting communities and forest resources in areas affected by the infestation. Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, who unveiled the program jointly with Environment Minister John Baird, said, "Vast parts of the Interior have been eaten away by the mountain pine beetle and the federal government is investing $200 million in measures to combat this infestation."

Project activities will include measures to control the eastward spread of the beetle in BC and along the BC-Alberta border. The program will also help affected communities seek out new forest products, markets, industries and services to help ensure their long-term economic well-being.

Canada has 10% of the world's forests, including 30% of the world's boreal forests. It is the world's largest exporter of forest products, with about one third of Canada's potential harvest coming from BC.

In addition, federal Environment Minister John Baird and Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn pledged a contribution of $2 million towards the restoration of Vancouver's Stanley Park National Historic Site after a series of severe windstorms hit the British Columbia coast during December. Baird toured the park recently to survey the damage. Thousands of trees fell and extensive wind and rain damaged roads, forest trails, facilities and the Stanley Park Seawall. Preliminary estimates for restoring the park have been pegged at $4 million but could rise if more fierce windstorms occur along the coast this winter.

Their announcement complements funding from the British Columbia government and supports fundraising efforts by the private sector and many individual British Columbians.

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