A Globe & Mail Top 100
Beginning in the late 1980s, a series of pine beetle
(also known as the bark beetle) outbreaks unsettled iconic forests
and communities across western North America. An insect the size of
a rice kernel eventually killed more than 30 billion pine and
spruce trees from Alaska to New Mexico.
The pine beetle didn''t act alone. Misguided science,
out-of-control logging, bad public policy, and a hundred years of
fire suppression released the world''s oldest forest manager from
all natural constraints. The beetles exploded wildly in North
America and then crashed, leaving in their wake grieving
landowners, humbled scientists, hungry animals, and altered
watersheds. Although climate change triggered this complex event,
human arrogance assuredly played a role. And despite the billions
of public dollars spent on control efforts, the beetles burn away
like a fire that can''t be put out.
Author Andrew Nikiforuk draws on first-hand accounts
from entomologists, botanists, foresters, and rural residents to
investigate this unprecedented pine beetle plague, its startling
implications, and the lessons it holds. Written in an accessible
way, Empire of the Beetle is the only book on the pine
beetle epidemic that is devastating the North American West.
Published in partnership with the David Suzuki