Campfires are a staple part of any summer. If you do plan on having a campfire, be sure to only buy and burn local wood.
Dr. Rory McIntosh, Provincial Forest, Insect and Disease Expert, said bringing in out-of-province wood can wreak havoc on ecosystems, "Insects and diseases can be transported either inside of the wood or under the bark in firewood. It's one of the major pathways of spreading invasive insects or diseases."
Invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer or mountain pine beetles, can kill entire forests, as McIntosh explained, "Transporting of the material from an area where it's infected... you move the disease around and bring the ability of the insect that causes the disease. You carry them to new locations, they re-infest and start infecting trees a long ways away from the centre of the outbreak."
The emerald ash borer, found in eastern parts of Canada, targets ash trees. McIntosh said this insect was detected as west as Winnipeg just before Christmas, "Some ash trees were found to be failing and looking like they're getting a crown dieback."
The mountain pine beetle, found to the west and south of Saskatchewan, has killed entire BC forests by killing the trees and leaving the dried out remains which are susceptible to forest fires.
McIntosh said invasive species like these are often found overseas and were likely transported to North America by pallet wood or wood packages through national trades. "That's often a way that invasive species enter Canada."
He noted they're working hard to prevent them from crossing Saskatchewan borders, "They're both a major concern. What we've done to deal with them, is we've put out a restriction order which restricts pine forest products with bark attached from Alberta, British Columbia and the United States. On the eastern side, we've put out a restriction order for ash trees, logs, and materials from Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the United States. These restriction orders helps keep the insects or disease out of the province."
Moving firewood from infected areas can be a violation of Canada's Plant Protection Act. Penalties for doing so can cost up to $50,000.
However, the restrictions are only effective if people follow them. "If you bring just one load of firewood in, it can kill entire ecosystems. We really rely on the public to follow the local laws and regulations and rules and make sure they educate themselves on the effects of invasive species. Our message is buy local, burn local."