Mr. Speaker, this has been a good debate. It has been great that we have been able to get this forward for the reason that we have been able to outline a comprehensive set of programs since 2002 in working with the British Columbia government to deal with the mountain pine beetle.
This take note debate is a good mechanism for Parliament. It allows us to bring forward some initiatives, some esoteric areas that we do not have time during the day to get into all the details. It was quite clear from the debate tonight that most members, if not all who were in the House, were not aware of the various programs that the federal government has undertaken. They were not aware of the research that we are doing that will give good background for the British Columbia government, the four pillars of that research program, dealing with the communities, dealing with the industrial strategy of the lumber and how long it will last and what to do with it, and the programs on federal land.
I would like to reassure the member from Her Majesty's loyal opposition who spoke last about parks. I agree with the point he was making and I want him to know that we are taking action in the parks. We are doing the operational actions in the parks now. We are cutting the trees on federal land, as we are doing in all the federal properties, the relatively large forest tracts we have in B.C., on the national defence lands and on first nation reserves.
Earlier tonight I talked about what we are doing for the small private land owners. I want to carry on and talk about how it provides assistance for beetle control and rehabilitation on first nations reserve forest lands in the federal parks along the western side of the Rocky Mountains and for major federal forest holdings in central and southeastern British Columbia.
A second major focus of the initiative is to deliver the research required to ensure an effective response to this beetle epidemic. These research needs were identified through a series of regional forums with hundreds of B.C. land owners and managers. That will help many of the people. Members spoke tonight about wanting this consultation and I am indicating that we have done that with the people in B.C.
All the mountain pine beetle initiative programs are fully operational. A wide range of B.C. land owners and researchers have become involved, many of them in the riding represented by the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George as well as those of his colleagues in and around the city of Prince George in B.C.'s interior.
The Canadian Forest Service has located staff in Prince George and Kamloops to assist private land owners to develop proposals to identify forest beetle infestations, to take management steps to control the beetle and to subsequently reforest these lands. The Canadian Forest Service has also stationed a research group with three scientists and technical support at the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George to work with the university and provincial government researchers.
Together they will work to provide a cohesive and targeted flow of information in meeting the challenges of this beetle epidemic. In addition, the UNBC and provincial government researchers in Prince George have been awarded almost $1 million in mountain pine beetle initiative funds. These are responsible and laudable actions on behalf of the land owner.
The Government of Canada's six year $40 million mountain pine beetle initiative is assisting land owners located in communities within over nine million hectares of British Columbia. Communities such as Vanderhoof, McBride, Quesnel, 100 Mile House, Cranbrook and Armstrong are home to private land projects under this federal initiative. As well, there are new projects and agreements being reviewed by officials in the Canadian Forest Service.
This is also not a new focus for the Government of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, or the Canadian Forest Service. For over 100 years the Canadian Forest Service has proudly represented the people of Canada in researching the needs of Canada's forests, working with our provincial and territorial colleagues to ensure that all Canadians have a healthy and sustainable forest resource for today, tomorrow and long into the future.
Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Forest Service have a long tradition of working with individual Canadians to ensure that they have knowledge, tools, and where necessary, the additional assistance to meet the challenges they face in managing this valuable resource for environmental, economic and social needs of their families and communities. The mountain pine beetle initiative is simply the current example of this government's response to this need.
I commend the member opposite for bringing up this topic tonight so we could debate it in the House, and as he has said, bring people's attention to it so we can get these points out.
There is no doubt that the mountain pine beetle is the most serious pest of mature pine forests in western Canada. The current infestation in British Columbia is by far the largest of this type on record. This massive infestation is approaching 10 million hectares of mature lodgepole pine, the insects' food source. Complete control of the mountain pine beetle is not feasible but that is not to say the Government of Canada has been sitting idly by, leaving the province of British Columbia to fend for itself.
The government's mountain pine beetle initiative is an example of strong federal-provincial cooperation. Forest land management is a provincial mandate. British Columbia forest legislation requires that major forest licence holders be required to carry out reforestation at their own expense. However, the federal government stepped up to the plate and is working with the province in areas of this massive infestation that fit within the federal role and responsibility.
The Government of Canada's mountain pine beetle initiative is focused on federal lands, first nation reserve lands, federal parks and on private forest lands owned by the little guy.
The mountain pine beetle initiative allows the federal government to do what it can to help British Columbians on lands that are outside the responsibility of the province.
Officials at Natural Resources Canada continue to work in close collaboration with their provincial colleagues in B.C. and Alberta to ensure that every effort is made to respond in the best way possible to this massive natural epidemic. Officials must continue to do so in a manner consistent with the federal mandate.
The Government of Canada's mountain pine beetle initiative plays an important role in supporting the provincial forest management efforts by the province of British Columbia. It adds to the scarce resources to face this epidemic that is so devastating to local communities and local businesses, for instance the people in the riding of the member opposite, who is doing such a good job in bringing forward an initiative.
I want to make sure that people realize that we have taken initiatives in a number of areas that are under federal jurisdiction. We have a large block of forest in B.C. which, unlike in most provinces, is still under federal control. We are taking our initiatives there, on reserve lands, on national park lands and in working in cooperation to come up with a continued coordination plan with the B.C. government. We joined them in 2002 on this most recent outbreak. Of course the pine beetle has been there for thousands of years living in the forest.
We are doing research on the effect on the communities and how we can best harvest the dead wood, how long it will last and what it can be used for. There is also the ecological impact. This pest has co-existed for thousands of years with the forest. If we deal with this pest in an unnatural way, or if we do something dramatic, we have to make sure we are not setting off a chain of ecological reactions that will harm us more in the long run than the problem itself.
I thank the member opposite and all the members who have spoken to this issue tonight. The government will assure the people of Canada that, as with all our programs on this pest, this is a major concern to Parliament. The government will continue to analyze the results that have come from this debate and see if there is more that we could do to mitigate the effects of this devastating outbreak in British Columbia and Alberta.