Bark beetle management unit strategies

There are 5 main bark beetle management strategies used in B.C. to minimize the impact these beetles have on our forests. These strategies are tied to specific areas (known as Beetle Management Units boundaries, BMUs) and how much infestation is present.

Beetle Management Units

Beetle Management Units were established within each Timber Supply Area as a way to develop consistent pest-specific strategies that are tied to actions. These BMU boundaries were based on existing Landscape Units (LU) which are areas of land used for long-term planning of resource management activities (such as timber). Although BMUs are specific areas, it is important to know that these units are not isolated, and what is happening in an adjacent unit can have an affect on the current unit.

Bark Beetle Management Unit Strategies

There are five bark beetle management strategies for BMU’s. The strategy used depends on the level of bark beetle infestation (area and severity), accessibility for treatment tactics, and the amount of susceptible host trees available in each unit (potential for spread). Given the variation within a landscape unit, stand-level decisions for managing bark beetles must consider the unique situations for that site.

These strategies are meant to be used as a guide in order to focus resources for efficiently treating bark beetle infestations at the landscape level. Overall, the goal is to achieve the BMU strategy for most, but not necessarily all, of the timber harvesting in that Landscape Unit.

Five strategies

Currently, these strategies are being used in Omineca BMUs that contain mountain pine beetle, spruce beetle, Douglas-fir beetle, and western balsam bark beetle.

1. Proactive

The use of proactive management tactics and is applied where beetle populations are in the endemic population phase.  The key goal of the Proactive strategy is to prevent beetle populations from expanding to unmanageable levels.


2. Targeted

The use of aggressive pest reduction tactics on beetle populations that are in the incipient population phase and is applied where pest populations are building but can still be effectively reduced before more widespread infestation occurs.


3. Reactive

The use of tactics in response to pest populations that are in the epidemic population phase. The goal of the Reactive strategy is to reduce and mitigate widespread bark beetle-caused host tree morality.


4. Salvage

Focus on the harvesting of mostly dead or dying trees and stands to minimize timber value losses in widespread infestations and is applied where management efforts would be ineffective in reducing beetle populations and subsequent levels of damage.  The Salvage strategy is most suited for beetle populations that are nearing the end of the epidemic phase or in the post-epidemic phase.  The goal is to recover timber value, to regenerate impacted areas and to reduce fire risk to promote future more resilient forests.


5. No Action

The  No Action strategy is applied to designated areas where:

  • Natural disturbances are left unmanaged
  • Management efforts would be ineffective in substantially reducing beetle populations and impacts
  • There is no short-term possibility of salvaging dead timber
  • Access cannot be put in place before substantial merchantable degradation of the dead material (economically constrained areas)
  • Non-timber values or other management constraints such as wilderness areas, Parks or ecological reserves, culturally significant areas, supersedes that of timber or wood products

Areas designated as no action should be large enough to allow for the full range of ecosystem processes through time.