Under normal environmental conditions, bark beetles play an important role in the health of forests by colonizing and helping remove weak, diseased, and overgrown trees. With climate change, however, excessive reproduction of bark beetles has generated greater tree mortality. To protect forest health, landowners often resort to logging to remove infested trees, a practice referred to as sanitation logging. Mexican law establishes that landowners are responsible for controlling bark beetles, and owners must obtain authorization from the authorities to carry out sanitation logging. Activities to control bark beetles, however, vary within the MBBR. Postdoctoral researcher Erika Gómez Pineda and collaborators have conducted interviews with local and government individuals to determine the reason for these differences.
Interview results reveal differences in the application of the legislation. For example, in the state of Michoacán, one tree with bark beetles is considered an active shoot, while in the State of Mexico, three or more affected trees are counted together as an active shoot. There also appears to be an influence from the concentration of sawmills in Michoacán. There is a need to develop more uniform and sustainable strategies to strengthen forest health rather than relying solely on sanitary logging which may be driven by interests beyond conservation.