Since its most recent peak in 2019, the mountain pine beetle population in Alberta has declined 94%. The drop reflects the continuous effort to slow the spread following the 2019 and 2020 winter seasons. Of course, sustained periods of widespread, extreme cold increased beetle mortality and have helped to limit the beetle populations growth.
Aerial surveys completed in August 2022 to detect lodgepole pine trees killed by mountain pine beetles covered 6.88 million hectares. These aerial surveys focused on specific areas where the beetle populations are still actively killing trees. To date, more than 2.4 million hectares of Alberta forests have been impacted by the spread of them mountain pine beetle, killing nearly all the pine trees in the most severely affected areas.
Partnering with local and Indigenous contractors, Alberta’s mountain pine beetle management plan moves into its next phase, which includes control activities such as targeted, single-tree cutting and burning, whole-tree chipping, and harvesting entire areas of affected pine trees as needed. In addition, ground operations are underway to manage sites in all areas of concern. In 2021, the average number of infested trees per site fell to about three, the lowest number since Alberta’s management program began, and a drastic drop from the 2009 all-time high of more than 18 per site.
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