No Link Between Pine Beetles and Forest Fires

          PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Trees chewed into what looks like a forest of kindling are not necessarily more susceptible to wildfires, according to a new study by researchers at Oregon State University.
     Garrett Meigs, a co-author of the study, told reporters that mountain pine beetles and western spruceworm chew trees into “true mortality” – to the point where very little foliage is left to burn.
     Though there have been widespread fears about increased wildfires due to insect damage, Meigs said climate change and the accompanying drought and lack of snowpack are much more significant factors.
     Pine beetles in particular have been vilified as habitat destroyers, even though the species is native to the lodgepole and ponderosa pine forests of the Pacific Northwest.
     Instead of blaming the insects for causing increased forest fires where no such link exists, the authors of the study suggested that forest management plans consider “the potential ecosystem restoration benefits of native insect outbreaks.”

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