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Canadian Chamber of Commerce looking for federal funding to stop mountain pine beetle

About 93,000 hectares of pine forest in Jasper National Park have been impacted by the mountain pine beetle, posing a huge fire risk. Sarah Kraus / Global News

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has asked for immediate federal funding to stop the spread of the destructive mountain pine beetle as it threatens to spread across the country.

Chamber CEO Perrin Beatty says in a letter sent to Natural Resource Minister Amarjeet Sohi that warmer winters have allowed the beetle to spread east and that the threat is at a critical juncture.

READ MORE: Hundreds of hectares of trees being removed from Jasper area

Beatty says the pine beetle will have a clear path to spread across the rest of Canada if it breaches the forests that border Alberta and Saskatchewan.

He calls on the federal government to recognize that the infestation is of national significance and to provide funding to match the threat, starting with $100 million to help fund Alberta’s efforts.

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WATCH BELOW: We’re learning more about a massive construction project in Jasper National Park. Sarah Kraus reports.

Click to play video 'More information surfacing about massive construction project in Jasper National Park' More information surfacing about massive construction project in Jasper National Park
More information surfacing about massive construction project in Jasper National Park – Oct 22, 2018

He says, in recent years, Alberta has been largely left to fund efforts to keep the beetle at bay, so far spending more than $500 million to control the beetle’s population.

According to a report to the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, British Columbia lost more than half of its salable pine timber between 1995 and 2015 due to the beetle, which will cause the provincial economy to lose out on tens of billions of dollars in the coming decades.

READ MORE: ‘Buy locally and burn locally’: Saskatchewan’s firewood plea

Beetle-ravaged trees also burn at higher temperatures, making forest fires more severe and harder to control.

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“Without support, the impacts of the pine beetle on our forestry sector and the public safety of rural communities will be significant and long lasting,” says Beatty in the letter.