Friday, February 15, 2008

Mountain Pine Beetle Training Centre at GPRC hosts forestry professionals

I've posted on the Pine Beetle before - the following news release from Grande Prairie Regional College shows that this continues to be an ongoing battle:

Gaining an understanding of mountain pine beetle infestation is important to foresters from Mexico to Saskatchewan - and the Alberta Mountain Pine Beetle Training Centre at Grande Prairie Regional College is providing that opportunity. The MPB Training Centre was established late in the summer of 2007 in collaboration with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development to provide training resources for the province, and news has been spreading wherever the mountain pine beetle is a potential pest.

National and international attention has been drawn to the Alberta Mountain Pine Beetle Training Centre, as foresters develop skills needed to identify, manage, and prevent infestations. On February 26 - 28 a group of 13 forestry professionals from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment will be trained at the Alberta Mountain Pine Beetle Training Centre. The current outbreak has not migrated as far east as Saskatchewan, but the Fire Management and Forest Protection Branch is taking a precautionary step.

GPRC was contracted to deliver this training for Alberta beginning in September of 2007, and has hired an instructor specifically to deliver the courses. The College was a considered an ideal place to hold the training for several reasons including our Training Forest, which is the largest in Canada. It offers a consistent location to hold the classes, it provides a common link between students and forestry contactors and it is in close proximity to where beetle control efforts will be concentrated.

The College has hired full time coordinator Leah Flaherty to deliver the program, funded through a contract with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. The course involves both in-class theory and field work. Grande Prairie, with its wealth of surrounding boreal forest, including significant mountain pine beetle infestations, provides a natural training ground.

GPRC faculty member Dr. Weixing Tan, who has taught forestry at the College for several years, worked closely with ASRD to establish this training centre. “Working side-by-side with ASRD and forest companies, we are honoured to be part of important contributions towards the control of this least wanted” forest pest,” says Tan. “The mountain pine beetle has not only devastated lodgepole pine forests in BC and Alberta, but has also posed a potential threat to the pines across Canada.”

“GPRC is very pleased to be able to contribute in the education necessary to manage this threat to forestry in our region,” says President Don Gnatiuk. “It is part of our responsibility as the portal for education in our region to work with partners in government and industry to meet training and learning needs as they emerge.”

For More Information Contact:

Dr. Weixing Tan, Forestry Instructor
Grande Prairie Regional College


Leah Flaherty, Coordinator
Alberta Mountain Pine Beetle Training Centre
Grande Prairie Regional College

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