Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Yellowhead for his dedication to this important issue affecting the forest sector in his riding and across the country. As an MP from B.C., I empathize. It is a very serious situation.
I would like to reassure him, as our government has last week and the week before when the question has come up in the House, that we are doing everything we possibly can to stop this infestation from spreading.
Unfortunately, climate change has made once inhospitable forests and climates more inviting to the mountain pine beetle and other destructive forest pests. Natural dispersal is allowing them to spread with alarming speed, creating a real threat for forest-dependent communities across Canada.
The member for Yellowhead has seen the impact and the extent of the problem in his own riding. Sadly, the situation is not unique to Alberta's pine forests. That is why our government has invested an additional $87 million in scientific infrastructure upgrades. That includes federal labs conducting research that informs our responses to destructive forest pests, such as the pine beetle.
This new funding is critical to the Canadian forest service, which employs Canada's largest team of scientists devoted to pest management. The forest service is a recognized centre of excellence on pests, and invests $20 million annually to develop scientific solutions that help forest managers and communities respond to damaging pests by slowing their spread, mitigating their impact, and reducing the risk of infestation in areas not yet affected.
Over the last two years alone, the forest service has spent $1.3 million supporting mountain pine beetle research. Through these efforts, we have been able to assess the economic and environmental risks associated with these forest pests, particularly under a changing climate, and develop adaptive options for affected communities and industries. All of this is vitally important as we work toward our ultimate goal, which is to contain the pine beetle spread.
We have also assisted in maximizing value from beetle-killed timber, as well as developing new technologies and products. For example, our research has helped the forest sector adapt its practices to use the affected wood in traditional manufacturing mills, as well as alternative product markets, such as panel board manufacturing and wood biomass recovery.
Nor are we doing any of this alone. Yellowhead is a case in point. The Canadian forest service is working closely with industry, provincial government agencies, and Parks Canada to develop science-based responses under the national forest pest strategy. This means developing and implementing co-operative management strategies, informed by science, to mitigate the infestation and spread of mountain pine beetle at the regional level.
The Canadian forest service, the provinces, industry, and our other partners are fully engaged on this. We are all working together to protect the economic value of provincial forests and preserve the ecological integrity of national and provincial parks.