Alberta boosts funding for mountain pine beetle management
By Maria Church
The Alberta government is increasing funding for its mountain pine beetle management program to $30 million annually for the next four years, a boost of $5 million each year.
The additional funding will go towards ground survey and control work on more than 83,000 hectares, the government announced yesterday.
“The cost of doing nothing is not acceptable,” Alberta’s minister of agriculture and forestry Devin Dreeshen said in a news release. “We campaigned on this promise and we are reversing four years of the previous government’s cuts. The federal government needs to step up and protect Western Canada’s forests. Alberta and Saskatchewan are both funding mountain pine beetle programming and we will continue to press Ottawa to take this seriously.”
Saskatchewan contributed $1 million to the Alberta program last year, and has committed the same for this fiscal year.
Paul Whittaker, president and CEO of the Alberta Forest Products Association, welcomed the funding increase.
“We only need to look west to British Columbia to see the widespread environmental degradation and lost jobs that occur when too little action is taken to fight the scourge of the mountain pine beetle. Here in Alberta, timely investments and co-operation between government and industry has not only prevented destruction of our forests, it has also slowed the eastward spread of the beetle. We challenge the federal government to take this issue as seriously as the government of Alberta does,” Whittaker said in the release.
Last year mountain pine beetle activity increased in the Calgary, Rocky Mountain House, Whitecourt and Edson Forest areas.