Column: Impact of sawlog supply crunch reduced through co-operation

A recent article (May issue of the Logging and Sawmilling Journal) on highlights of a panel discussion.

A recent article (May issue of the Logging and Sawmilling Journal) on highlights of a panel discussion organized by the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) in Prince George proposes a co-operative approach between government, industry and consultants on how to best use the fibre remaining at roadside after logging.

COFI started by canvassing 19 interior forest companies to estimate what was happening in the bush.

Estimates of residuals left after logging varied from 12 per cent of the harvest to 30 per cent. The panel members emphasized that “we need that fibre” and to extract it requires a re-definition of forest management including integrated planning and harvest regimes.

The objective includes removing the different types of fibre in as few passes as possible.

The forest companies, government and consultants would be wise not to work in isolation.

“It would pay dividends to involve from an early date logging contractors who will end up investing in a harvesting  system and trying to make it work.”

It will also be important to include  logging equipment manufacturers to develop or modify a new range of equipment to effectively deal with the different fibre types.

The author also discussed the importance of working with  First Nations who control access to the use of their traditional territories.

The recent court victories have not necessarily brought justice and streamlining is needed in the land referral process.

As pointed out by one of the participants, it is critical to deal with the fibre issue now since it is predicted that in the next 10 years, two to three more mills in B.C. are likely to close in addition to the ones already shut down and slowdowns (shorter production hours per week) in the remaining mills are likely.

The most probable locations for the closures will be in the Prince George and Cariboo regions, followed by the Kootenays.

In the same issue an article by Tony Krazanowski “Advancing woody biomass inventory precision for forest residues in Canada” an  updated inventory (2013/14) of biomass was presented.

Using a new inventory of mills producing over 100,000 cubic metres of logs, mill and road side harvest residues are estimated to nearly 51 million oven dried tonnes.

When converted to energy equivalents it is over one billion gigajoules which at $4 per gigajoule represents a value of $4 billion for Canada. As expected, B.C. has the majority of forest residues with a 40 per cent estimate of this total.

A third article in the same journal describes a project in the village of Telkwa using wood waste from a small sawmill operation to heat a school, municipal building, local business and private homes within 200 metres of the boiler.

Support for the project came from the Ominica Beetle Action Coalition Committee and the Wood Waste to Heat Initiative. Wood slabs from the mill were chipped into useable fuel instead of burning as waste.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

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