Bucks to Battle Beetles

In Prince George, it’s reported the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) is one of five universities across Canada that will receive special funding enabling critical MPB research to continue for another five years. The Prince George Citizen tells us here that the research group is known collectively as TRIA-Net. UNBC professor Dr. Dezene Huber, a Canada Research Chair in Forest Entomology and Chemical Ecology says, “So far, the TRIA project has been able to sequence the genomes of the beetle, the tree, and the fungus that allows the insect to break down the tree’s defences. We have discovered many new aspects about the physiology of the organisms in the system. With TRIA-Net, we intend to look at how differences in a host tree’s defences affect pine beetle larvae survival over the deep cold of winter.”

The MPB epidemic continues to threaten boreal forests across North America. In west-central Alberta, beetles arrived for the first time ever in June 2006. We’re told strong winds occurred at the same time beetles emerged from their pine hosts, and carried them 400 kilometers from central BC into the region (Source). In Colorado, the beetle infestation has now spread across 3.4 million acres. And earlier this year, scientists warned us that over the next two decades, billions of mountain pine beetles from B.C. are expected to devastate forests in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces.

~Sawdust~

  • No mention of shrinking fibre supply in all the news of late concerning big market potential for Canadian softwood lumber in India. As reported here, Canada’s natural resources minister Joe Oliver was on a six-day trade mission to India this week. While he notes India import demand might be considered a decade behind China, he suggests “when it happens we’re looking at an additional market in the billions.” Analyst Paul Quinn, RBC Capital Markets predicts a “slower growth story than we’ve seen with China” but adds “it’s going to be yet another place to put lumber which continues to tighten the market.” Canfor CEO Don Kayne says India holds “tremendous future potential,” adding the federal investment will “expand our reach in this rapidly growing economy.”
  • In the United States, Reuters explains the 9.8% drop in December housing starts announced this morning: “It was the largest percentage decline since April, but housing starts were coming off a multi-year high reached in November and the decline was smaller than economists had expected. In addition, cold weather appeared to be a factor.” A significant 33.5% tumble in the Midwest is explained by unseasonably cold weather.

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