Beetle Boundaries

With 18 million cubic metres of the land base having been attacked and killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle, the unprecedented and unsustainable salvage operation in the B.C. Interior continues.
What, exactly, will the future look like? That’s what “everyone wants to know,” confirms B.C.’s Chief Forester Dave Peterson. In my conversation with Dave on Friday, I learned that “there’s no doubt we’re coming closer and closer to the point where the cuts will be reduced.” And while annual allowable cut (AAC) forecast slides were a prerequisite of any super cycle presentation, I learned from Dave that definition of beetle-killed timber supply areas is highly region-specific, shaped by a number of variables.

  • Reality is “there will be less timber”
  • While we are “forward-looking as possible” we “don’t predict future AAC.. cuts are set area by area for 5-10 years at a time”
  • Cuts are very much predicated on the area, dependent upon definitive information including site conditions and also kinds of sawmills there (“are they well-suited for cutting small dead trees?”)
  • Beetle-killed trees last longer in dry areas – in wet areas, the roots rot and the trees eventually fall over (the “tipping point” where timber is no longer economic)
  • Timber Supply Review (TSR) of the 100 Mile House Timber Supply Area (TSA) and Mackenzie TSA most recently completed and AAC adjusted
  • Williams Lake TSR will be completed within two months (“still a significant amount of dead timber in Williams Lake and West Chilcotin”)
  • Quesnel and Prince George Timber Supply Reviews to be completed in 2015 or early 2016

“It is well to remember that there are no new forests to be found. All are known. From here to eternity, Canadians must do with what they have.”
– G. Herbert Lash, horticulturist. “A Walk in the Forest” (1966),
issued by the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association

One thought on “Beetle Boundaries

  1. It seems counterintuitive that the salvage program can exceed the pre-beetle harvest level by roughly 100 million cubic metres over a decade without impacting long term timber availability in the Interior. That is what the timber supply slide that you linked to indicates. Maybe it could be achieved by counting the future harvest of waste for co-generation and pellet production, but the component of sawlogs and peelers will be less and the industry and our economy will be much different.

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