2008-09-30

Technology development project to find use for mountain pine beetle devastated wood

A $28-million multi-partner research project in Alberta is developing the technology to convert dead trees into high-grade newsprint, and provide a use for massive tracts of forest in Alberta and BC devastated by the mountain pine beetle.

The project involves field testing new Alberta-developed sensor technology and equipment modifications at Alberta Newsprint Company's Whitecourt plant. The new technology will adjust the newsprint process for beetle-killed wood's drier, weaker, and darker characteristics. This installation is part of a broader research and development project that started in 2005 and will continue through to full-scale production in 2015.

"Millions of dead and dying mountain pine beetle-infested trees will be put to commercial use to manufacture newsprint," says Doug Horner, minister of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology.

2008-09-26

Waterton Park implements pine recovery program

With concern growing over decreasing numbers of whitebark and limber pine, Waterton Lakes National Park staff is taking steps to ensure both species recover and thrive in future. Cyndi Smith, conservation biologist for Parks Canada at Waterton, says the numbers of whitebark and limber pine have been severely reduced in both Canada and the U.S. by many factors, including white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, climate change and a history of fire suppression in the park.

To combat the decrease in numbers, Smith says seeds are currently being collected from trees which appear to be resistant to blister rust. This is achieved by fastening specially-designed cages around the cones preventing consumption by predators, until cones mature and the seeds can be retrieved.

“The issue for us is that as we have fewer seed-producing trees, we have to augment that by planting seedlings ourselves.” Smith says seeds gathered are used by the Alberta Tree Improvement Centre to grow seedlings which are returned to Waterton for planting. As well, some seed is donated to the University of British Columbia’s seed bank.

Campbell Says No Going Back On Carbon Tax

Premier Gordon Campbell says there will be no reversing of the Carbon Tax in BC. Speaking at the Union of BC Municipal convention Campbell said we already are feeling the effects of the climate change in BC with the mountain pine beetle and the floods. Our forests are decimated he said, and the problems are not going away.

We need to look to the future not for our generation, but to ensure that the generation that are coming after us are properly looked after.

Campbell said the people of BC can decide next May whether they like the idea of a carbon tax or not.

2008-09-25

Municipalities call for flood protection in Smithers

The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) joined the BC Chamber of Commerce today in urging the Provincial and Federal Governments to recognize and provide for the increased threat of flooding in BC.

“No one can argue that flooding has become a bigger and bigger problem in the past few years,” says John Winter, President & CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “Changing weather, mountain pine beetle infestation, more snow and faster melts – all these factors are contributing to a higher incidence of flooding, and none of them is likely to cease their influence any time soon.”

The BC Chamber and UBCM point out the need for better funding of flood prevention measures, and a long-term flood prevention plan for endangered areas. Areas at direct risk of flooding include Terrace, Smithers, Prince George, New Westminster, Fort Langley, and the Fraser Valley.

2008-09-24

Canfor pellet project key to pine beetle rebound

Minister of Forests and Range Pat Bell unveiled a vision to reduce the impact of the mountain pine beetle epidemic on the Interior forestry industry by nearly 75 per cent, Thursday.

Bell was the keynote speaker at the Council of Forest Industries annual banquet in Prince George and singled out the pellet projects pilot at Houston Canfor as a critical component to economic recovery in the wake of the pine beetle.

Pellet production and other bioenergy products could extend the harvest life of a stand by gaining value from pine not usable for lumber, he added.

BC tests new licence

British Columbia is to test a scheme to charge a lump sum for all the timber in a stand rather than by cubic metre of merchantable wood.

Forests minister Pat Bell said the idea was to reduce the 4 million m³ of wood left to rot after logging and use up trees attacked by mountain pine beetle. Licence holders would harvest the waste for biofuels, pulp and co-products.

“You are purchasing all of the fibre in that area for a single price,” Mr Bell said.

2008-09-23

Timber auction pilot launched

The province is piloting a new method of selling its timber in an effort to log more poor timber stands, including pine-beetle killed trees, and leave less waste behind.

The province is going to start auctioning timber under its B.C. Timber Sales program in lump-sum bids for specific areas. It's a major departure from the method used now, where the Crown agency seeks bids on a price-per-cubic-metre timber basis.

The winning bidder will make a single payment for the timber regardless of how much volume of timber is logged. The province believes this will create an incentive for companies to utilize more of the timber, not just for traditional products such as lumber, but also to feed pulp mills, pellet plants, and perhaps in a yet-to-emerge bioenergy sector.

2008-09-22

New Timber License System Tested

A new method of timber sales is being tested this fall, with hopes of getting harvesters to utilize more of the trees they cut.

Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell says instead of selling a license based on cubic metres of lumber, the bids will be a "lump sum" for the whole licence area.

Licences are being advertised this fall by BC Timber Sales business areas to facilitate harvesting of mountain pine beetle-attacked trees, pulp stands or other timber. The results of the innovative timber sale licence initiative will be evaluated before determining whether to expand the program.

Raven Biofuels Announces Initial Research Report and Price Target

Raven Biofuels International Corporation (OTCBB: RVBF) ("Raven" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that the research firm of Murphy Analytics LLC has initiated its equity rating on Raven. The report is available online at: http://www.murphyanalytics.com/uploads/RVBF_Initiation.pdf.

This newly arrived at price target has been developed as a result of Company efforts towards the completion of several agreements that will launch Raven's biofuels strategy providing technology and partners to build clean, renewable biorefineries globally.

Raven is initially pursuing its strategy in Washington State and British Columbia (BC) and is focused on low-cost, non-food biomass as the feedstock for its biorefineries. The proposed BC refinery plans to utilize wood waste and Mountain Pine Beetle softwood as a possible source of feedstock. In a March 2008 press release, the BC Government stated that "The Ministry of Forests and Range and the Council of Forest Industries estimate that the mountain pine beetle has now affected about 710 million cubic metres of timber." Further, "There are about 1.35 billion cubic metres of merchantable pine on B.C.'s timber-harvesting land base. If the infestation continues to behave as it has over the past nine years, it's projected that 76 percent of this pine volume will be killed by 2015." It is estimated that the area covered by the pine beetle infestation in BC alone is nearly the size of Texas. Another large area of the pine killed forests extends down the West Coast in to Washington and Oregon.

2008-09-19

Western provinces struggle to slow pine beetle's march

As the mountain pine beetle continues its march east of the Rockies through Canada's boreal forest, officials in Alberta and Saskatchewan are working to draw a proverbial line in the sand.

The beetle continues to gorge on trees in British Columbia and has gained a firm foothold in Alberta.

Experts are trying to halt its spread before it enters Saskatchewan's northern woodlands, where, if it adapts, it would have an unlimited buffet that would allow it to spread into other parts of the country.

2008-09-18

Forest tours set

More than 600 Prince George elementary students will learn a lot about our forests next week during guided tours along the Willow River Interpretive Trail, just east of the city.

During National Forestry Week's Walk in the Woods tours, Sept. 22 to 26, students from 14 elementary schools will learn about forest issues as beetle kill, forest fires, storms and other environmental effects on forests, as well as the new growth that takes place, said Scott Scholefield, Canadian Institute of Forestry chair.

"The teachers are excited and look forward to taking their classes on this outing. It has been said that for some students, this will be their first time outside of the city. For others, it enhances their current school studies in science."

Pine beetle, carbon taxes on top of list

Forestry, carbon tax, and the economy are a few of the issues that Federal MP candidates hope to address if they win a seat in the Cariboo-Prince George riding.

Dick Harris, the Conservative Member of Parliament, says one of the issues he would be addressing as an incumbent MP would be the Mountain Pine Beetle.

He says he would ensure that funding would continue to be provided to help mitigate the damage that the beetle has caused to the economy. The federal government has used some of the pine beetle funding to enhance economic diversification for the region and provide job training funds for forest workers who may face layoffs because of the pine beetle.

2008-09-16

Liberals roll out mountain pine beetle strategy

The federal Liberals have launched a mountain pine beetle strategy, promising to spend $250 million over four years on combatting its spread and protecting communities from fire threat.

The Liberals also criticized the Conservatives for using a Tory beetle fund to upgrade B.C. Interior airports.

The Conservatives are in the midst of a 10-year, $1-billion beetle aid program.
The Liberals say the Tories raided the beetle fund to pay for airport improvements in Prince George, Kelowna and Kamloops, and that a Liberal government would restore those funds back to the pine beetle fund.

Liberal government would tackle pine beetles with money, forestry summit

A Liberal government would spend $250 million over four years to curb the spread of the mountain pine beetle, part of a larger strategy to ensure the future of Canada's forestry industry, former cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh said Sunday.

The pest, long a scourge in heavily forested parts of British Columbia and Alberta, poses a serious threat to Western Canada's forests, jeopardizing jobs and increasing the risk of forest fires, said Dosanjh, who's running for re-election in the riding of Vancouver South.

"The federal government must respond with a clear commitment to tackling this devastation so that our forest industry and our communities can thrive," Dosanjh said.

2008-09-15

Tory fund to combat pine beetle wasted, Liberals say

The Conservative Party has raided its pine-beetle fund to pay for airport improvements in three British Columbia cities, Vancouver South Liberal candidate Ujjal Dosanjh charged yesterday.

"The fund was raided to pay for improvements that should have been done anyway," Mr. Dosanjh said, adding that a Liberal government would restore airport-related funds to pine-beetle programs.

Mr. Dosanjh spoke to reporters in Vancouver, where he unveiled the Liberals' $250-million, four-year program to combat the pine beetle.

2008-09-14

Liberals promise $250m to fight pine beetle

Homeowners would be given government help to deal with trees infested by the mountain pine beetle as part of a $250-million Liberal plan to curb the beetle's spread, former cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh said on Sunday.

Saying that the Conservative government has "raided" pine beetle funds and redirected the money to unrelated infrastructure projects, Dosanjh promised that every penny would fight the effects of the beetle.

"This is important work that should have been done and needs to be done," Dosanjh told reporters.

Liberals pledge $250M over four years to fight spread of mountain pine beetle

A federal Liberal government would spend $250 million over four years to curb the spread of the mountain pine beetle, part of a larger strategy to ensure the future of Canada's forestry industry, former cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh said Sunday.

The pest, long a scourge in heavily forested parts of B.C. and Alberta, poses a serious threat to western Canada's forests, jeopardizing jobs and increasing the risk of forest fires, said Dosanjh, who's running for re-election in the riding of Vancouver South.

"The federal government must respond with a clear commitment to tackling this devastation so that our forest industry and our communities can thrive," Dosanjh said.

2008-09-12

Economic Growth Prediction Downgraded

The Province's economic growth forcast has been revised downward because of the continued slump in the U.S. housing market and the instability in U.S. financial markets. Budget 2008 had predicted growth of 2.4% but the first quarterly report has revised that to 1.7 %. The predictions for the balance of the fiscal year have now been changed from the Budget 2008 prediction of 2.8% down to 2.3%.

The First Quarterly Report also predicts revenue from forestry to be down 36% reflecting reduced stumpage rates and Crown harvest volumes due to the effects of mountain pine beetle infestation, a weak US housing market and a higher Canadian dollar.

Over the next two years, stumpage revenue is expected to increase in line with improved harvest volumes and rising prices. However, this improvement will be partly offset by falling border tax revenue as higher lumber prices result in a reduction in the export tax rate to 5 per cent by 2010 from the current 15 per cent rate.

Mining: Silver lining?

British Columbia’s forestry industry has been devastated by the high Canadian dollar, the decimated U.S. housing market and by the pesky mountain beetle. Yet, as the gloom and job losses deepen, an unlikely beneficiary has emerged. “We have a need for these workers,” says Byng Giraud, spokesperson for the Mining Association of British Columbia.

Although a major metal mine has not opened in B.C. since 1997, the commodities boom has fuelled a labour shortage. There will be about 15,000 job openings in B.C. mining in the next decade, and many of the skills needed in each industry are not that different, says Giraud. The driver of a logging truck, for example, could be adept at driving a large truck at a mine. Moreover, the shortage of mining labour may persist — and grow — if recent mining exploration efforts in beetle-infested regions of B.C. develop into full-fledged mining projects.

Geoscience BC, a not-for-profit based in Vancouver that works to attract resource investments to the province, has funded the Quest program, which surveys land for mineral potential in north and central B.C, which includes some areas devastated by the pine beetle infestation. The 2007 Quest survey resulted in exploration companies staking 850,000 hectares of land. The approval of a mining permit needed to turn an exploration project into a producing mine, however, can be a slow process, as it requires government approval. “One would hope there would be a faster approval process, but nothing so far. The political reality of job losses in the forestry industry hasn’t resulted in faster mine permit approvals,” says Giraud.

2008-09-11

Defeat The Mountain Pine Beetles

The newspaper you’re holding might someday be made from mountain pine beetle wood, thanks to a pilot project kicked off by the provincial government.

Alberta Advanced Education and Technology Minister Doug Horner announced this week that the province would contribute $10 million to a $27 million pilot project in Whitecourt to turn logs ravaged by the mountain pine beetle into newsprint.

The mountain pine beetle infested about 500,000 trees in Alberta this year, according to the province, on top of some 3 million last year. The infestation continues to march east from the Rocky Mountains.

2008-09-10

Paper project salvages trees

The provincial government unveiled new technology yesterday that could help salvage trees killed by the mountain pine beetle.

The $28-million partner research project will convert the trees into high-grade newspaper, explained Doug Horner, Minister of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology.

"Millions of dead and dying mountain pine beetle-infested trees will be put to commercial use to manufacture newsprint," he said.

2008-09-09

Alberta to make newsprint from beetle-damaged wood

Alberta is introducing a $28 million research project aimed at converting trees killed by mountain pine beetles into newsprint.

The project will focus on the development of new sensors by the Alberta Research Council that will be able to detect wood that has been killed by beetle infestation by finding the dryness and blue stain left behind. Printers will then be able to adjust their presses for the drier, weaker and darker wood by injecting more bleach, heat or water to compensate.

The result will be the transformation of a waste product into a viable commercial substance.

2008-09-08

Pine beetle lumber to be converted to newsprint

Mountain pine beetles not only kill trees but they stain and dry the wood so it's good for little else but burning.

Now, with a pilot project announced Monday, the beetle-killed wood could be salvaged for use as newsprint.

Under a $28-million, three-year research project, new sensors developed at the Edmonton-based Alberta Research Council are going into the Alberta Newsprint Company's Whitecourt plant.

2008-09-05

Pine Beetle Affected Community of Smithers Gets Investment From Federal Government

The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, is investing in three Smithers area projects, a community that has been greatly impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation.

Federal funding of more than $531,000 was announced by Dick Harris, Member of Parliament for Cariboo-Prince George, on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Western Economic Diversification and the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources. Funding is provided under the Community Economic Diversification Initiative (CEDI), a component of the federal Mountain Pine Beetle Program.

"Developing economic opportunities is a renewal option for Mountain Pine Beetle affected communities that need to diversify their local economy," said MP Harris. "With this investment in the Smithers community, the region will have the tools it needs to strengthen its economy."

2008-09-04

Government of Canada Invests in Central Interior Communities

The Government of Canada, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, is investing in three projects in British Columbia's interior communities that have been impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation.

Federal funding of $658,000 was announced today by Betty Hinton, Member of Parliament for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Western Economic Diversification, and the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources. Funding is provided under the Community Economic Diversification Initiative (CEDI), a component of the federal Mountain Pine Beetle Program.

"The Government of Canada is committed to helping strengthen communities affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation," said MP Hinton. "These investments will support the development of new agricultural markets, business expansion and Aboriginal economic opportunities in the Central Interior."

Tembec Industries, Forest Products Company, Files Bankruptcy

Tembec Industries Inc. filed for protection from U.S. creditors citing the rising value of the Canadian dollar, declining U.S. housing construction and a glut of timber because of a beetle infestation in British Columbia.

The unit of Montreal-based Tembec Inc. said in papers filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York that its assets and debts exceed $1 billion.

Tembec Industries filed under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, saying it wants the debt restructuring it began in January in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to take precedence over the U.S. case. Chapter 15 allows foreign companies to reorganize outside the U.S. while protecting them from U.S. lawsuits and creditor claims.

Pine beetle has started its trek across Canada

The devastation is incredible and shocking at the same time.

One of Canada's postcard trademarks, the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia, being gnawed away at hurricane speed.

Every time I arrive in British Columbia I'm stunned by the swaths of land eaten up by the nasty mountain pine beetle.

2008-09-03

Wood-waste energy plan stagnant?

B.C. Hydro did not release a second call for proposals to produce energy from wood waste and beetle-killed pine trees slated for July.

B.C. Hydro spokesman Dag Sharman said while the second call for proposal was not released as planned, discussions are ongoing with the provincial ministries of energy and forestry, reflecting on the lessons learned from first call for bioenergy.

Issues under discussion include tenure, the access to timber and logging waste, and stakeholder engagement, said Sharman.

2008-09-02

Global warming's effects burned onto West

As pilot Bruce Gordon lifts up from the local airport, the distant perspective of the Teton Range raises the spirits, but the unfolding sight of dying forests sears the soul.

High-elevation white bark pines, which have endured droughts and lightning and insect attacks in life spans as long as 1,000 years, are being killed by a tiny beetle whose numbers were once limited by a bitter winter climate.

"What you are seeing is a natural process on steroids: All these trees will be toast unless the pace of global warming is drastically slowed," said Dr. Diana Tombeck, a University of Colorado-Denver professor. She studies white bark pine and calls it "a foundation species."