2014-05-27

Volume vs. area

In an attempt to help the forest industry get back on its feet in the wake of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is proposing to change how it deals out rights to cut down trees by shifting from primarily “volume-based” to “area-based” allotments.

At a glance, this change may seem like a small matter of semantics. It’s not. The final decision will have important implications not just for B.C.’s forests but also for the jobs and revenues that depend on them.

The government currently awards a mix of two types of forest tenures to companies and communities, but volume-based tenures dominate the landscape in the Interior, the area hit hardest by the mountain pine beetle. Under a volume-based tenure, companies compete for the highest value timber within a timber supply area. In an area-based tenure (also known as a tree-farm license, each company is guaranteed access to an area of forest. Further, these two types of tenures may be “replaceable” (renewable every 10-15 years) or “non-replaceable” (non-renewable). Sixty per cent of B.C. forest tenures are volume-based, of which two-thirds are replaceable and one-third is non-replaceable.

2014-05-23

British Columbia's Ashcroft Terminal expansion complete

Ashcroft Terminal, an inland transloading facility in British Columbia that is a member of the Canadian government's Asian Pacific Corridor, completed an expansion project designed to improve the flow of goods by rail and give local industry a competitive edge in international trade.

The terminal expansion project added a 1,500-meter (.93-mile) enhanced connection to the mainline with additional railcar storage, transload facilities and support tracks. These improvements will help the terminal to more efficiently handle manufacturing, industrial and mining materials and agricultural products. They will also allow shipments to move more quickly through the rail corridor. The project will also provide local producers and shippers with safer and better services, including greater road access to the terminal.

These improvements are expected to help to forge stronger shipping ties between British Columbia's natural resource sector and the Asia-Pacific region, providing competitive options to shippers from the Ashcroft area. The terminal expansion has served as an important step in helping to diversify the region's economy in response to the mountain pine beetle infestation, which has put the forestry industry at risk and threatened the stability of the regional economy.

2014-05-07

Warm, dry summer forecast for B.C., western Alberta

B.C. and western parts of Alberta can expect above-normal temperatures and less rainfall this summer, according to forecasters with AccuWeather.

"In Vancouver, British Columbia, the combination of high pressure and above-normal sea surface temperatures in the northeast Pacific will lead to a slightly warmer-than-normal summer with reduced chances for rainfall," said the season forecast.

But in the mountains they predict "the combination of increased heat and little rainfall, coupled with the ongoing Pine Bark Beetle infestation, will raise the risk for large wildfires along and west of the Continental Divide."

2014-05-05

B.C. government must stop unsustainable logging before forest-dependent communities collapse

Recently, we had the opportunity to tour the Interior to talk about the sorry state of British Columbia’s forest management and lack of regulation. We listened to the concerns of forest workers and residents in the heart of the mountain-pine-beetle zone.

While travelling to Prince George, Mackenzie, Quesnel and Williams Lake, we were shocked to see significant amounts of green wood on logging trucks and in the log yards of sawmills throughout the region. This clear evidence of the over-cutting of healthy forests under the pretence of salvaging beetle-killed forests is a very serious matter that demands immediate correction from the provincial government.

A recent forest practices board report says the B.C. government’s response to the unprecedented pine beetle epidemic was to increase the allowable annual cut in the beetle zone to unsustainable levels.