VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 18 (UPI) -- The pine beetle infestation of western Canadian forests is expected to close at least 16 major sawmills and cut exports by half, a report said Thursday.
The International Wood Markets Group forecast released in Vancouver, British Columbia, said losses due to the insects would also cause lumber prices to rise, the Vancouver Sun reported.
"Sawlog shortages caused by the mountain pine beetle could trigger the permanent closure of about 16 large primary sawmills and/or plywood production facilities within the British Columbia interior by 2018," the report said.
The pine beetle is expected to kill 11 billion square feet of timber in British Columbia and western Alberta, the report said.
Eradication efforts have been under way for the past 10 years in what the group called the largest-ever natural environmental disaster in North America, the Sun said.