The Burns Lake Community Forest has sent its new Annual Allowable Cut request to the provincial government. A decision is expected in April of 2020. (Blair McBride photo)

BL Comfor submits request for new AAC

The Burns Lake Community Forest (BL Comfor) has submitted its Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) request to the provincial government.

Its request is for 1.8 million cubic metres over a 10-year period, to be effective in May of 2020, according to its AAC Proposal and Rationale published in early November.

That amount comprises 1,267,510 cu m of green volume (with a small amount of deciduous) and 561,355 cu m of dead volume.

“We’re basically saying there is still dead out there but we don’t know the shelf life of it. So we’re asking for a sustainable green harvest,” as Frank Varga, General Manager of BL Comfor told Lakes District News.

“The dry dead pine may drop out of the market at any time in the next five years. So it’s not really volume you can rely on for long term sustainable harvest, and based on the market and what we are seeing, I don’t think the dry saw-log annual estimate or so will last for another five years. We are going to do our best to get value out of it, and keep the local facilities going.”

The Comfor aims to “salvage dead pine timber for as long as possible to help protect the mid-term timber supply while conserving non-timber resources,” the rationale paper says. “Such a practice enables the [Comfor] to increase revenues shared with communities and First Nations for social benefits, and conserves more living timber to support the AAC after the end of shelf life.”

BL Comfor’s rationale for the new proposed AAC took into account several factors including the current timber inventory, the damage caused by mountain pine beetle infestations, wildlife habitats, First Nations cultural areas, and recreation sites, among others.

Its current AAC of 900,000 cu m is for the period of May 1, 2016 to May 1, 2020.

The cut limits allowed Comfor to harvest 680,000 cu m of dead volume over four years, during which it has harvested 348,146; and 220,000 of live volume over the same period. It has harvested 111,539 cu m of live timber.

“They can be up to maximum of 10 years. Realistically that is long enough given the landscape changes that can happen, and so at all levels you should have a re-determination in progress by the expiry,” Varga said.

BL Comfor’s request comes just after the ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Northern Development (FLNRORD) released on Nov. 21 the new AAC for the Lakes Timber Supply Area (TSA).

LOOK BACK: New AAC 41 per cent lower than previous limit

As an area-based tenure, community forests are subject to a different AAC process than volume-based tenures, such as the Lakes TSA.

READ MORE: Community forests avoid main AAC pressures

With volume-based tenures, the chief forester gathers input from the public and stakeholders, analyses the data and makes the AAC decision.

Area-based tenure AACs involve the tenure holder making a request, submitting analysis and discussing with the government the details of the proposal. Regional executive directors with FLNRORD then determine the AAC levels.

A decision is expected to be made on BL Comfor’s request in April of 2020, said FLNRORD spokesperson Dawn Makarowski.

The Chinook Community Forest is preparing its AAC determination but will submit its request in late 2020, said Ken Nielsen, General Manager of Chinook Comfor. It expects to receive an answer from the government by the spring of 2021.

Chinook Comfor’s AAC is 150,000 cubic m.

“Chinook does not know at this time what we will be asking for, that will be determined through out the winter and next summer,” Nielsen said.

“This is Chinooks first AAC determination process. Chinook will review it’s AAC approximately every 10 years.”

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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