Wake up and shake up needed in industry board rooms

Article starts with encouraging predication of a strong period of long-term growth.

Tony Kryzanowski, in a recent Logging and Sawmilling Journal article, “Taking action now to avoid hitting the fibre wall” starts with an encouraging prediction of a strong period of long-term growth in the Canadian forest industry.

Some of the following reasons are given: The increased exports to China (3,500 per cent in one decade), devalued Canadian dollar and technological changes (high speed computer grading in sawmills).

Also helping are impending changes to the National Building Code of Canada allowing for all wood six-storey buildings along with new modular construction products like “cross laminated timbers and structural insulated panels.”

He goes on to give examples of how our forest industry is much more diversified in its export markets and product mix.

The author describes some advances in the bio-economy, like the huge pellet plants and biomass energy plants being constructed in Eastern Canada and a potential bio fuel industry.

“Canada hasn’t even scratched the surface regarding the production of green gasoline and diesel from wood fibre yet  which now appears as possibly the next big leap in technological advances.”

For one of the first times the market will not limit the growth of the forest industry but the main problem will be the supply of raw materials due mainly to the impact of the pine beetle and global warming implications.

He uses the term “hitting the fibre wall” to describe the impending shortage of wood fibre. The recent announcement of the Williams Lake TSA AAC reduction is a good local example of the pending fibre shortage close to home.

He also reviews the need to take steps toward developing silviculture practices which help  mitigate the impact of global warming on the future establishment of our forests.

Scientists have been tracking growth and yield projections for seedlings and they have evidence that climate change is having an impact in some areas of reforestation.

“Looking at maps being generated by scientific experts on the likely impact on Canada’s commercial forest should global warming continue , there is only one word to describe the outcome, scary.”

The solution is the proper planting of species better able to adapt to the predicted warming trend.

He also believes we should be encouraging more commercial tree farming on private land along with a well managed carbon and credit trading program.

He ends with this warning.   “What concerns me is that while I hear a strong and growing voice from researchers on this issue, I hear very little coming from forest company boardrooms.

That has to change  — and sooner rather than later — or forest companies might find themselves short of commercial fibre a lot sooner than they think if demand continues to grow and there is no action taken to adapt to climate change.”

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.