Province grapples with forest health and harvests after pine beetle

When Burns Lake logging contractor Klaus Posselt hears of the shortage of wood caused by the mountain pine beetle and provincial efforts to ensure enough sawlogs to keep the Interior’s major sawmills in timber, he shakes his head in dismay.

There’s no question that the beetle has struck a horrendous blow to Interior forests. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations estimates 20 per cent of the timber supply has been affected. Despite those losses, Posselt said, wood that could be salvaged is still being wasted because government policy has not adapted to the new reality of B.C.’s dying pine forests.

When Posselt’s company, Tahtsa Timber, logs a stand, his crew will leave 30 per cent of the volume of timber behind because it’s too decayed or dried out for sawmilling. He sees it as a symptom of a deeper forest management problem that the devastation caused by the beetle has exposed: The primary resource from B.C.’s Interior forests has always been sawlogs and at a time when forest health is declining, forest management policies still revolve mainly around sawlogs. Little is known about how much wood is really left because inventories are a decade out of date. But as the quality of the timber declines, the waste log piles grow bigger.