Quirks & Quarks

BC forests capturing carbon again

The Mountain pine beetle destroyed huge swaths of BC forest, and compromised its role as a carbon sink, but now the forests are recovering and restoring their role as a carbon sink

After devastating insect destruction, forests are regrowing and soaking up CO2

Foresters expect limitations on future timber supplies after provincial forests were devastated by the mountain pine beetle (CBC)
The Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak in the forests of British Columbia, triggered in part by climate warming, destroyed a shocking 18 million hectares of forest, and has now moved into Alberta and is threatening the vast boreal forest of Canada's north.

But new research on BC's forests suggests that recovery from the devastation is now well under way. Dr. Vivek Arora, a Research Scientist at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis of Environment and Climate Change Canada in Victoria, says his climate model indicates that there has been - and will be - surprisingly swift new growth of the BC forests, driven, ironically, by climate change and greenhouse gases.

Increased precipitation, a longer growing season and the fertilizing effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere means that the BC forests are now taking up close to as much carbon from the atmosphere as they were prior to the pine beetle outbreak. These new, young trees are also less vulnerable to the beetle than the older trees they're replacing.

Related Links

Paper in Geophysical Research Letters
- Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions release 
CBC BC News story
Vancouver Sun story