|Photo by Misty Garrick Miller|
Whitebark pine is regarded as a keystone or “foundation” species. Keystone species are considered important in their promoting of biodiversity in a habitat.
The majority of the range of Whitebark Pine habitat is on public lands in Canada and USA, in national forests and protected lands. Even though most of these trees are on protected lands, they are threatened by an introduced disease and fire suppression, as well as a surge in the Mountain Pine Beetle populations.
White pine blister rust is a fungal disease which was inadvertently introduced to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1910. Whitebark pine mortality from the combination of blister rust and Mountain Pine Beetle exceeds 50% in many areas. Widespread mountain pine beetle outbreaks killed many trees throughout the Rockies, creating "ghost forests" of dead pine trees. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, more than 700,000 Whitebark pines were killed in 2004.
Several conservation groups are working to restore, preserve and protect this species and the ecosystem they are part of. For more, please visit-