Lindsay Chung photo

Lindsay Chung photo

FOREST INK: How to get more forest fibre in British Columbia

We tend to be wasteful when we have an abundance which is true in the forest industry as well

We tend to be wasteful when we have an abundance which is true in the forest industry as well.

For example when I first started working in the forest service in the 1970s some trees like pine were considered weed species while fir and spruce trees were the favourite with the bigger trees being the most desirable.

In the Cariboo and many other parts of the province as our forest inventory improved and we realized how much volume was attributed the smaller diameter trees especially pine, the industry evolved to use the so called inferior parts of the forest fibre basket.

It was all related to the tenure holders trying to convince the government that they could use a wider variety of species and smaller sized trees so a higher annual allowable cut (AAC) was feasible. Commercial thinning could be one of the ways for making up the recent losses due to beetle and wild fire.

READ MORE: Herbicide use in forests reduces biodiversity

As described in a July 1999 government document limited commercial thinning has been undertaken in British Columbia, the majority in the Sayward Forest on Vancouver Island.

The traditional objectives of commercial thinning are to obtain wood volume or revenue earlier than the final harvest as well as to improve the growth of residual trees along with the quality of the stand by removing dead, diseased and deformed trees.

A recent article in the logging and sawmilling journal author Jim Stirling provides some interesting background on commercial thinning potential in this province.

“British Columbia’s forest industry tends to apply silvicultural techniques only when forced. Now is one of those times. Canfor, West Fraser and Carrier Lumber are among the growing number of companies taking a serious look at applying commercial thinning techniques on appropriate stands in B.C.

“Selecting the most appropriate sites for commercial thinning will be an early and essential part of the learning curve for B.C. companies.

“Which stands will prove the best candidates for commercial thinning? How can they best be laid out and designed to contain costs as much as possible while meeting the forest company’s expectations for the amounts and quality of the wood extracted?

“Although unusual circumstances have combined to create the necessity of interest in commercial thinning techniques, they may well prove to have an accepted role in forest management.

“In Finland, for example, thinnings are considered an unavoidable part of the silvicultural care of a stand during its rotation period. Therefore, thinnings are not a separate problem but part of the system of growing stands and logging. It was no surprise to the Swedes to confirm commercial thinning harvesting costs are considerably higher than those associated with clear cutting.

“They also quickly discovered that selective thinning techniques were more advantageous to the remaining stand from a biological point of view than geometrical thinning, where the process follows corridors or rows. But the flip side was selective thinning cost more to design and implement.

READ MORE: Eight companies control 50 per cent of B.C.’s public forest tenures

“The main issue with selective thinning techniques is removing the desired stems while minimizing damage to the remaining stand. The working environment is narrow and restrictive.

“The standing stems get in the way, reducing sight lines and limiting machine boom movements. Winching out stems selected for removal demands more labour, and its effectiveness is influenced by snow conditions.

“The Swedish research concluded a new approach was required to commercially thin a stand most effectively, one specifically designed for operating in the restricted environment.

“Much has changed since the 1970s, of course. The knowledge and data gathering about the effects and costs of varying thinning systems on the remaining environment have been collected and analyzed. The experience with thinning systems in Scandinavia and other European countries with forest industries can only help Canadian forest companies. Conditions might vary considerably but the basic premises surrounding commercial thinning systems are as applicable to central B.C. as they are to southern Sweden.”

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.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society communications officer Brianna van de Wijngaard reflects on World Water Day March 22. (Photo submitted)
DOWN TO EARTH: World Water Day means something different for everyone

This year’s World Water Day theme was Valuing Water

Williams Lake Cycling Club president Shawn Lewis (from left), Jeremy Stoward of New Path Forestry, WLCC Boitanio Bike Park director Andrew Hutchinson accept a cheque from Williams Lake and District Credit Union investment specialist Abigail King. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake Cycling Club gets bike park donation to bolster upgrades, maintenance

Plans are to complete three rideable lines each year, he added

Forestry Ink columnist Jim Hilton. (File photo)
FOREST INK: Credit, COVID and climate crises facing the world

Concerning COVID, Mr. Carney feels we have had the proper response by showing solidarity

Columnist David Zirnhelt’s grandsons practice some fun roping on his granddaughter at the family ranch. (David ZIrnhelt photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
RANCH MUSINGS: Roping, is that an essential skill for a ranch hand?

We all know someone who has had a digit reducing accident while roping

School District board members discuss business at a regular board meeting prior to the pandemic. (Angie Mindus/Williams Lake Tribune file photo)
Ministry of Education gives special shout out to School District 27 at start of Education Week

District board and administration recognized for creating outdoor learning spaces

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Most Read