Pining Away

All across western North America, pine forests are under siege. The culprit? A 5-millimeter-long insect with a voracious appetite. The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) has already harmed more than 40 million acres of forest in British Columbia alone. Is climate change making the outbreak worse than it might otherwise have been?

"Mild winters and indeed the warm summers have helped the population grow and spread," says Allan Carroll, associate professor of forest sciences at the University of British Columbia. "But the outbreak itself is also the consequence of two significant factors: forest management practices that created enormous amounts of mature pine forests over the last decade and past practices of selective harvesting, where we’ve left pine on the ground and removed the more preferred species like Douglas fir and spruces. We’ve created a real smorgasbord for the beetle."

Pine Beetle

Boreal Forest Photo Project

Boreal Forest Photos

The color variation above shows a massive pine beetle infestation north of Williams Lake in British Columbia. This image is part of the Boreal Forest Photo Project, a unique endeavor involving eight photographers, one pilot and an editor who share a dream of photographing the boreal forest throughout Canada.

Visit the the Boreal Forest Photo Project website to learn more:

Read the Full Interview

Visit our Web Exclusives page to read the full interview of Allan Carroll.

Help for the Whitebark Pine

The mountain pine beetle is pushing whitebark pine toward the endangered species list. Read the article by Margaret Buranen.