November 9, 2020 Kootenay National Park, British Columbia Parks Canada Agency
The global COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of nature and protecting the forest, lakes and wildlife that we cherish. While the Government of Canada works to address the pandemic, and support the economy and health of families, we remain focused on addressing other challenges – including climate change and biodiversity loss.
Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, outlined actions being taken by Parks Canada to address the spread of mountain pine beetle in the Rocky Mountain national parks in British Columbia and Alberta.
Due to the impacts of climate change this harmful pest has been expanding its range northward, eastward and toward higher elevations. The impacts are devastating – including the loss of many square kilometres of formerly healthy forest that provided a safe haven for wildlife – including many species at risk.
That’s why the Government of Canada has announced more than $68 million through Natural Resources Canada to help control, research and mitigate the impacts of this pest in the Rocky Mountains – including in British Columbia and Alberta. As part of this investment, Parks Canada will receive $6.9 million over three years. The Agency will enhance ongoing mountain pine beetle survey activities and planning in Jasper, Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho national parks, while focusing on reducing wildfire risk caused by the mountain pine beetle. The work will be concentrated in the forests surrounding communities located within the national parks.
Several projects will take place this winter, including protection and wildfire prevention work (FireSmart) around communities, hazardous tree removal, and wildfire risk reduction planning. In one unique project, Parks Canada will install a high-volume sprinkler system to protect the town of Jasper. Used in strategic locations, such as along the community fireguard, this system will further enhance community protection, helping ensure the safety of people and critical infrastructure.
Through these actions, and in continued collaboration with Natural Resources Canada and the governments of British Columbia and Alberta, Parks Canada is demonstrating its commitment to address climate change and the challenges posed by the spread of mountain pine beetle in national parks and surrounding forests.