Jim Hilton discusses diversifying the lumber and pulp industry in this week’s Forest Ink. (Black Press file photo)

Jim Hilton discusses diversifying the lumber and pulp industry in this week’s Forest Ink. (Black Press file photo)

FOREST INK: Interior city working on forest diversity

Quesnel has been making the news lately about taking seriously the need to diversify

Quesnel has been making the news lately about taking seriously the need to diversify and develop business to compliment the dimension lumber and pulp industry which has been a major employer in the city.

In 2018 the city council, led by Mayor Bob Simpson, promoted the idea of the Forest Innovation Centre. The $160,000 centre located on the second floor of City Hall, was officially opened in the fall of 2019 at which time staff involved with the centre were introduced. Forestry Initiatives Manager Erin Robinson and Forestry Initiatives Co-ordinator Laci Scuff will be responsible for the operation of the new facility. While it includes offices and research space, the centre also showcases different wood products from the local area as well as some new innovative ideas about the future of forestry.

As described on the City’s home page, the centre will encourage experimenting with wood-fibre residues and other by-products of forest product manufacturing.

Some of these products include prefabricated construction materials, wood composites, biochemical, nanotechnologies, and biodegradable single use products. Simpson noted that these products could soon be in high demand. The province requires that engineered wood be used wherever possible for public infrastructure projects, including the new Royal BC Museum in Victoria and the new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. And there is currently a global shift away from single use plastic items like straws and bags, as well as “fast fashion” made from non-polluting fabric production.

Clothing and fabrics made from wood products are becoming more common. My daughter recently returned from Vancouver with a shirt made from certified renewable wood sources and Amazon has a wide variety of household fabrics also made from wood. The latest edition of the Logging and Sawmilling Journal (LSJ) February 2020 describes a number of innovations that could be added to the ones described above. Alberta Innovates has been working with Cellulose Nanocrystals CNC to make nanogel which resists removal by saliva thereby enabling better treatment with drugs for oral cancer.

The Forestry Initiatives Program (FIP) was created in Quesnel to address the multiple challenges facing the community in the forests adjacent to the city. This includes protecting the municipality, and the smaller communities surrounding Quesnel, from wildfire by encouraging home and business owners to Fire Smart their properties as part of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).

The FIP is working with the Province on a landscape level analysis and restoration project along with exploring ways to innovate the forest products manufacturing sector. A number of options are anticipated including the use of prescribed fires, forest management methods like pre-commercial and commercial thinning and utilizing more fibre including the volumes left after the conventional harvesting of insect and fire damaged timber.

These kinds of activities often create logging debris which has often been burned on site that could go into making a number of high-value products such as nanocrystalline cellulose, biochemical replacements for petrochemical use, or paper alternatives for single use throw-away items, as described above.

One item which was not mentioned is the production of biochar from logging debris. Also described in the LSJ there is a new biochar maker being marketed by Tigercat. As described in their brochure the 6050 Carbonator is an advanced, cost-effective and environmentally friendly wood debris conversion system. The 6050 accepts logs, limbs, brush, stumps, yard waste, pallets, clean lumber and other clean wood-based material. It has a high throughput rate with no material pre-processing required along with a large blower to regulate air for re-combustion.

READ MORE: Community forests have many advantages for rural communities

I would like to thank Erin Robinson for her comments as well as the following paragraph.

The Province of B.C. is facing significant challenges including: milder winters, increased insect occurrence (and other forest pathogens), longer and more intense wildfire seasons, and dramatically increased flooding events. Large scale disturbances have put pressure on traditional forestry methods and are forcing industry and land managers to reconsider how forest ecosystems are managed.

It’s important we have a road-map for moving from traditional forestry to new and innovative methods, and the City of Quesnel’s FIP, along with project partners, is creating a plan for their community that can be rolled-up to the regional and provincial levels. Learning from Quesnel’s FIP, over time will provide guidance on how forest product manufacturing processes can be innovated to respond to the types of fibre B.C.’c Central Interior forests provide now and into the future.

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.

ColumnistOpinion

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

Just Posted

Tl’etinqox will be going into lockdown at 6 p.m. Jan 20 due to COVID-19. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
House parties, impending lockdown and loss; Tl’etinqox chief grapples with COVID-19 challenges

Tl’etinqox Government west of Williams Lake declared a state of emergency Jan. 18

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson told city council Tuesday, Jan. 19, there have been no further cases of COVID-19 amongst the staff at Cariboo Memorial Hospital than the 10 nurses and two doctors who are off work.  (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA expects health authority to declare COVID-19 cluster for region

Lorne Doerkson updates Williams Lake city council at committee of the whole meeting

(Tribune file photo)
Marie Sharpe and Nesika elementary latest schools to have COVID-19 exposures

School District 27 superintendent acknowledges hard work of Interior Health staff

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb gives a COVID-19 update through a Facebook post Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Facebook image)
Williams Lake mayor urges residents to follow protocols as city awaits COVID-19 numbers

Isolation ‘means not leaving your home or other accommodations’: Mayor Walt Cobb

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Flags line the National Mall towards the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Joe Biden arrives at U.S. Capitol for inauguration

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

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

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper
B.C. photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Most Read