Scientists converge on Kelowna

KELOWNA, BC – More than 450 scientists from around the world are meeting in Kelowna to discuss topics like how climate change is affecting the environment.

Most of the researchers are ecologists and evolutionary biologists.

They don’t have to look far to see the result of climate change.

Just outside their meeting room is a wetland on the UBCO campus where many of the Ponderosa pine trees have been killed by the mountain pine beetle.

The beetles have been taking advantage of increasingly warm winter temperatures to spread across B.C. where they have caused billions of dollars in damage.

The insects have also spread outside their traditional territory.

“The beetles have shown up in northern Alberta, which to our knowledge they’ve never been before and they are in significant number up there.  We are still talking in the order of thousands of trees, or tens of thousands of trees, instead of tens of thousands of trees, where in B.C. we are talking about millions of trees,” says Mary Reid, biologist with the University of Calgary.

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The scientists say the Okanagan, which has one of the most biological diverse regions in Canada, is at serious risk from climate change.

They say some native plant species could die out as temperatures rise and water levels drop.

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