2010-03-29

Pine beetle fears misplaced

The current pine beetle “outbreak” that has led to tree mortality among Rocky Mountain forests has prompted some people to suggest that beetles are “destroying” our forests and that beetle-killed trees will invariably lead to larger wildfires.

At the heart of this issue are flawed assumptions about wildfires, what constitutes a healthy forest and the options available to humans in face of natural processes that are inconvenient and get in the way of our designs.

While it may seem intuitive that dead trees will lead to more fires, there is little scientific evidence to support the contention that beetle-killed trees substantially increase risk of large blazes. In fact, there is evidence to suggest otherwise.

2010-03-27

Assessing the effects of post-pine beetle forest litter on snow albedo

The effect of forest litter on snow surface albedo has been subject to limited study, mainly in the hardwood-dominated forests of the northeastern United States. Given the recent pine beetle infestation in Western North America and associated increases in litter production, this study examines the effects of forest litter on snow surface albedo in the coniferous forests of south-central British Columbia. Measured changes in canopy transmittance provide an indication of canopy loss or total litterfall over the winter of 2007-2008. Relationships between percent litter cover, an index of albedo, snow depth, and snow ablation during the 2008 melt season are compared between a mature, young, and clearcut coniferous stand. Results indicate a strong feedback effect between canopy loss and subsequent enhanced shortwave transmittance, and litter accumulation on the snow surface from that canopy loss. However, this relationship is confounded by other variables concurrently affecting albedo. While results suggest that a relatively small percent litter cover can have a significant effect on albedo and ablation, further research is underway to extract the litter signal from that of other factors affecting albedo, particularly snow depth.

2010-03-25

Mackenzie Ready to Turn The Corner?

With the recent news that Conifex is hoping to buy out the Abitibi assets in Mackenzie and talk of a new buyer in the wings for the Pope and Talbot pulp mill, things may start improving for Mackenzie.

The region has two advantages in today’s B.C. forest operations; it has a good fiber basket that has not been impacted by the mountain pine beetle, and, according to Minister of Forests and Range Pat Bell, it has a highly under-inventoried timber supply. “It’s an area that has always had way more wood than was necessary to fire up the mills, so we’ve never really looked at it closely and said what is this timber supply area capable of producing?” He says the area can likely sustain a much higher annual allowable cut than the current limit “That is why you are seeing the keen interest on the part of companies interested in reopening mills in the area but also of course, you’ve been hearing about the Conifex potential take over of the Abitibi operation and I think that will be very good news as well.”

As for the rumoured pending sale of the former Pope and Talbot pulp mill, the Minister says there is still work to be done “We’re holding our cards pretty close to be honest. I am probably more optimistic today than I have been for some time.” Bell says over the past couple of months he was putting the chances of that mill ever opening again at an even 50-50, but says things are looking up “ I am on the higher side of the 50-50 version now, I think there is a very good chance. I know that the employees have been meeting with a potential operating group. A lot of the issues have been dealt with, but you know, until you see that mill actually generating pulp, I don’t think anyone is going to believe its going to happen. We are going to continue to work hard and I think we might get some news one way or the other over the next couple of weeks.”

2010-03-23

Pine beetles devastating B.C. timber

Sawmills in the Interior region of British Columbia will start running out of good timber within three to five years because of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, according to a report on the beetle's economic impact.

The report by the International Wood Markets Group describes the beetle infestation as one of North America's largest-ever natural environmental disasters. It will have a continent-wide economic impact, shutting an estimated 16 Interior sawmills and removing up to half of Canada's share of the U.S. lumber market.

The pine beetle is expected to kill a billion cubic metres of B.C. timber, and while an intense salvage program has been underway for 10 years, the end of sawlog quality wood is now in site, says the report.

2010-03-19

Pine beetle won't kill forestry, B.C. says

The pine beetle attack won't wipe out B.C.'s Interior forest industry — despite pessimistic predictions in a recent report — the province's forests minister says.

Pat Bell was commenting on a forecast by analysts at Vancouver's International Wood Markets Group, which warns the peak of sawlog availability will occur within three to five years, after which the B.C. Interior's industry is headed for serious downsizing.

Bell, who represents the forestry-dependent riding of Prince George North, said the government is working on strategies to stretch the timber harvest and preserve the industry.

Business Suffers in British Columbia Over Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic

About 15 major sawmills will run out of business in British Columbia due to the mountain pine beetle epidemic, which is described as one of the North America's largest natural environmental disasters. This will cause shortage of lumber in the United States.

One of the authors of the report said that the Canadian lumber production will not be able to recover throughout the century. The report also reveals that interior sawmills will start running out of good timber within three to five years.

The pine beetle epidemic will reduce Canada's share of the U. S. lumber market by almost 50%. However, lumber prices are expected to soar high.

Beetles threaten B.C. sawmills

Sawmills in the B.C. Interior will start running out of good timber within three to five years because of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, says a report on the beetle's economic impact.

The report by the International Wood Markets Group describes the beetle infestation as one of North America's largest-ever natural environmental disasters. It is projected to have a continentwide economic impact, shutting an estimated 16 Interior sawmills and removing up to half of Canada's share of the U.S. lumber market.

The pine beetle is expected to kill a billion cubic metres of timber in British Columbia and western Alberta, and while an intense salvage program has been underway for 10 years, the end of sawlog quality wood is now in sight, says the report.

B.C. forests outlook not gloomy: minister

The outlook for the lumber sector in B.C. Interior, ravaged by the mountain pine beetle, isn't as pessimistic as an industry report would suggest, Forests Minister Pat Bell said Thursday.

Bell was commenting on a forecast published Wednesday by analysts at Vancouver's International Wood Markets Group, which warned the peak of sawlog availability will occur within three to five years, after which the Interior's industry is headed for serious downsizing.

The government is working on strategies to stretch the Interior timber harvest to preserve the industry, said Bell, who represents the forestry-dependent riding of Prince George North.

2010-03-18

Pine beetle epidemic will have continent-wide economic impact: report

A new report on the mountain pine beetle epidemic describes it as one of North America’s largest natural environmental disasters that will put an estimated 16 major sawmills out of business in B.C. and lead to long-term lumber shortages in the United States.

Canadian lumber production is not expected to recover for the remainder of the century, one of the report authors said Thursday.

“We sort of think lumber production has peaked forever, at least relative to our lifetimes and our children’s lifetimes.” said Russell Taylor, president of the International Wood Markets Group. The Vancouver-based consulting company is one of three consultants who prepared the report for lumber industry clients.

British Columbia’s first conference on rural tourism

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is joining with educators and researchers from Thompson Rivers University (TRU) School of Tourism as well as Shuswap Tourism, Aboriginal Tourism B.C., Western Diversification Canada, and the Tourism Research Innovation Project (TRIP), to sponsor an important conference to assist communities around the region in finding ways to develop their tourism opportunities.

The conference is being organized by the REDTREE Project – a research initiative based at Thompson Rivers University’s (TRU) School of Tourism. The project helps communities impacted by the mountain pine beetle to diversify their economies through developing tourism. Tourism operators, researchers, tourism officials and marketing professionals will hear experts in sessions on a variety of topics, including cultural tourism, aboriginal tourism, agri-tourism, geo-caching, mountain-bike tourism, trails systems, social media marketing, and a range of case studies. Major Sessions on global trends and sustainable tourism will be presented by internationally renowned futurist and tourism authority Anna Pollock. Interactive discussions, presentations and hands-on mobile workshops will allow attendees to return to their communities with practical and valuable information.

The conference is being held at the Talking Rock Resort and Quaaout Lodge on Little Shuswap Lake between Kamloops and Salmon Arm and is directly related to the work underway by the REDTREE Project and the ongoing work of the Tourism Research Innovation Project (TRIP). The event is being made possible primarily through funding from Western Economic Development Canada’s Community Economic Development Initiative.

Canadian lumber production off by 40 per cent

The recession has cut the Canadian lumber industry down to little more than half its peak size, according to a report by the International Wood Markets Group.

In its annual report on the top 20 North American lumber producers, Vancouver-based Wood Markets states that Canadian lumber production is down 45 per cent to 19.4 billion board feet from its 2004 peak of 35.1 billion board feet.

Much of that decline was in the last year, when production fell by 21 per cent in the East and 17 per cent in the West, the report states.

2010-03-15

What’s Killing the Great
Forests of the American West?

For many years, Diana Six, an entomologist at the University of Montana, planned her field season for the same two to three weeks in July. That’s when her quarry — tiny, black, mountain pine beetles — hatched from the tree they had just killed and swarmed to a new one to start their life cycle again.

Now, says Six, the field rules have changed. Instead of just two weeks, the beetles fly continually from May until October, attacking trees, burrowing in, and laying their eggs for half the year. And that’s not all. The beetles rarely attacked immature trees; now they do so all the time. What’s more, colder temperatures once kept the beetles away from high altitudes, yet now they swarm and kill trees on mountaintops. And in some high places where the beetles had a two-year life cycle because of cold temperatures, it’s decreased to one year.

Such shifts make it an exciting — and unsettling — time to be an entomologist. The growing swath of dead lodgepole and ponderosa pine forest is a grim omen, leaving Six — and many other scientists and residents in the West — concerned that as the climate continues to warm, these destructive changes will intensify.

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. ("WFT"): Completion of Timber Tenure Purchase

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. /quotes/comstock/11t!wft (CA:WFT 38.00, 0.00, 0.00%) announced today that, following an extended period of regulatory review, it has completed the purchase from Weyerhaeuser Company Limited of Tree Farm Licence 35 and Forest Licence A18694, and certain related assets, having an aggregate Annual Allowable Cut of approximately 682,000 cubic metres per year, which includes a temporary uplift under Tree Farm Licence 35 of approximately 200,000 cubic metres in response to the effects of the Mountain Pine Beetle.

These tenures, which are located in the Kamloops Timber Supply Area, will increase West Fraser's long-term timber supply and are expected to help offset anticipated declines in future timber supply as a result of the current Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. The acquisition is expected to benefit West Fraser's operations in 100 Mile House, Chasm and Williams Lake, B.C.

This News Release contains certain forward-looking statements about potential future developments, in particular those relating to the anticipated benefits from the tenures. These are presented to provide reasonable guidance to the reader. Their accuracy and the actual achievement of such benefits depend on and are subject to a number of assumptions, risks and uncertainties and other factors. Accordingly, readers should exercise caution in relying upon forward-looking statements and West Fraser undertakes no obligation to publicly revise them to reflect subsequent events or circumstances except as required by applicable securities laws.

2010-03-10

B.C. fuels fight with Ontario over bioenergy

British Columbia's quest to replace Ontario as the top destination for clean-energy investment dollars will now be headed up directly by Premier Gordon Campbell.

Ontario's new energy pricing strategy has left B.C. behind, with new contracts expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks under its "feed-in tariff" policy guaranteeing prices and long-term contracts for green power.

The B.C. Premier plans to introduce a new Clean Energy Act this spring to exploit his province's beetle-killed forests as a bioenergy alternative, and to open up new energy trading opportunities across Western Canada and into the U.S.