The impact of the spruce beetle on Northern B.C. forests continues to grow, with areas impacted by the pest up 35 per cent in the last year.

B.C.’s Spruce Beetle Project coordinator Heather Wiebe says the spread of the spruce beetle is concerning, but not as much as the mountain pine beetle’s rise was.

“The way that the spruce is laid out in the province compared to pine … spruce comes in pockets,” Wiebe said. “Pine was a continuous forest that would act like a highway for the [pine] beetle to travel along.”

Wiebe says those “pockets” of spruce are much easier to treat than continuous pine forests, but the latest aerial surveys from the province show about 210,000 hectares of forest have been affected by the spruce beetle in the Prince George and Mackenzie region, up from 156,000 hectares in 2015.

“Why there’s a pressure now is the impact that happened from the pine beetle. This is compounding the impact on our forest industry,” she said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations says they have stepped up efforts against the spruce beetle in Northern B.C.

They say loggers are focused on harvesting beetle-infested wood and creating “trap trees:” trees that are intentionally cut down or killed and then lure beetles away from trees to be harvested.

The province is holding a two-day summit on the spruce beetle bringing together researchers, government officials, local leaders and the forest industry.

The summit begins Wednesday in Prince George.