BC Mountain Pine Beetle Impact Analysis: Processes, Problems and Our Solution

A project from students Line Christensen and Sze Chan for the UBC geography class Advanced Issues in GIS: Developing an Understanding.


In British Columbia, the area of pine stands infested by the mountain pine beetle has increased exponentially since the turn of the millennium. Given the economic importance of the logging industry in BC, evaluating the scale of potential damage, and predicting future impact continues to be an overriding priority for all sectors involved in forestry. Physiologically the beetles are not cold resilient, sparking debate on whether global warming could be the culprit behind the expanding beetle invasion.

This project considers precisely the issue of predicting infestation based on our knowledge of climatic change. By considering evidence for climate warming, and analyzing the areas where the beetle occurs, we create a prognostic model of future pine stands at risk of infestation. The project is aimed at providing information to people within the pine niche of forestry, both at an entrepreneurial and a government level.

The analyses lead us to conclude, that northern parts of the province will continue to remain too cold for the beetle beyond the next century. This limits the total area of possible infestation. In fact, we find that the area of pine stands at risk will increase only marginally over the next century. This however does not mean the area of infected trees will not increase, as only part of the areas within suitable temperature ranges are currently affected. Identifying additional factors impacting the beetles dispersal calls for further study, but is beyond the scope of our project.


See more student projects here.