More About Forest Health


To utilize integrated pest management methods to promote healthy forests.


To provide accurate information on the health of Nova Scotia's forests and give information and management options to forest stakeholders.

Forest Health is a section within the Forest Protection Division, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. Forest Health has offices and a lab facility (the Insectary) in Shubenacadie.

The main responsibilities of the Forest Health section are:

  • To monitor forest pests and develop better detection methods.
  • Analyse forest health conditions using field and survey data.
  • To provide accurate information and education to forest stakeholders in a timely manner.
  • To develop and maintain management options and systems.

Monitoring and Assessement

There are a number of insect pests that affect the forests of Nova Scotia. The protection of this valuable resource depends on early detection and assessment of these problems so that action can be taken quickly and effectively. In the event of a large-scale control program for a forest pest, Forest Health supervises the program and provides expert technical advice and quality control.

These are some of the major forest pests that the Forest Health section regularly monitors.

Spruce Budworm
The spruce budworm can be one of the most injurious insects found in the forests of Nova Scotia. Forest Health monitors the population of the budworm with surveys during the adult and second instar larval stages, and with an aerial defoliation survey.

Spruce Beetle
This is a very destructive pest of mature and over-mature white and red spruce. Forest Health is studying the beetle populations and tree mortality throughout the province using ground and aerial defoliation surveys.

Hemlock Looper
The hemlock looper is primarily a pest of balsam fir trees. It can cause severe defoliation in one year. Forest Health monitors this insect in the larva, adult, and egg stages, and with a yearly aerial defoliation survey.

Balsam Fir Sawfly
The balsam fir sawfly feeds on balsam fir and white and black spruce. Forest Health has worked with the Canadian Forest Service to develop monitoring methods and control strategies to reduce the damage done by this insect.

Whitemarked Tussock Moth
This insect can defoliate hardwoods, softwoods, and shrubs. Forest Health monitors the population through an adult pheromone trapping system and an overwintering egg mass survey.

Gypsy Moth
This insect feeds on 485 hosts within North America and can be particularly destructive to oak, poplar, and apple. Forest Health monitors gypsy moth populations throughout the province. In the federally regulated areas, pheromone traps are used to monitor population shifts and larval collections are used to monitor the population health. In unregulated areas, pheromone traps, tree skirts, and egg mass searches are used to detect populations.

Seedling Debarking Weevil
This native insect feeds on the bark of softwood seedlings, affecting the establishment and growth of the trees. Mortality levels on planted stock can be very high in some areas where natural regeneration is low. Forest Health can provide traps/lures for predicting expected levels of mortality on those sites before they are planted. Ongoing studies are also being conducted to improve this method.

Potentially Injurious Christmas Tree Insects, for example:
Balsam Woolly Adelgid , Balsam Twig Aphid , Balsam Gall Midge
These three insects impact the health of Christmas trees in Nova Scotia. The damage caused by the twig aphid and gall midge are assessed each fall. The woolly adelgid is monitored in the fall and in the spring.


Imported Insects
Forest Health assists the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canadian Forest Service to detect the presence of imported insects, such as the Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetle, the Asian Longhorn Beetle, and the Pine Shoot Beetle.

Arthropods of Importance to Human Health
Forest Health provides technical assistance to the NS Department of Health and Health Canada to monitor the populations of arthropods that can spread disease, for example: West Nile Virus (spread by some species of mosquito) and Lyme disease (spread by the Blacklegged Tick ).