The province currently has two forest inventories underway, one in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area (TSA) and one in the Lakes TSA.
The re-inventory of the Quesnel TSA is expect to be completed sooner than the Lakes TSA. “We should be completed with the Quesnel TSA inventory in 2013,” said member of legislative assembly John Rustad. “The re-inventory work that is being done in Quesnel is showing some very encouraging signs. Work needs to be done to finalize things, but right now it looks like the amount of green wood left in the beetle infested areas is a lot higher than we anticipated.”
This ‘green wood’ contributes to an area’s mid-term timber supply. Recent mid-term timber supply projections had been very pessimistic. “The original work we did in May painted a grim picture,” said Rustad. “It depends on market conditions, but from a supply perspective I’m anticipating a much larger supply than anticipated.”
“Which goes to show,” Rustad continued, “if we had taken the approach that the NDP was calling for, to plow under those [pine-beetle affected] stands to get them replanted… we would have lost a significant volume of our mid-term timber supply.”
According to Vivian Thomas, communications manager for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, phase one of the two-phase inventory for the Lakes TSA will be completed by spring of 2013. “This analysis will provide reliable inventory information that the ministry will use to support short term decision-making”, said Thomas. The second phase of the inventory will not be complete until late 2014 or early 2015.
The Lakes TSA also has a Type-4 silviculture survey underway and will be completed by March 31, 2013. The completion of a Type-4 silviculture survey for the Lakes TSA was one of the recommendations of the special committee on timber supply.
Critics have been vocal that the province has not moved quickly enough to update inventories. They point to the existence of some inventories based on data that is 10 or 20 years out of date.
“Inventory is a baseline. It’s continually updated every year,” explained Rustad. “The landscape was changing on a year to year basis. What we did was update our baseline inventory every year. It’s not like we don’t know what’s going on in the forest because we haven’t had a new baseline for 10 years. We have been mapping the infestation and the changes that have been happening, and all of that information feeds into the annual allowable cut and the decisions that are made by the chief forester .”
Minster Steve Thomson had early in the week made the same point. “The rapidly changing situation in the forest necessitated that we hold off in our inventory and reforestation plans until the situation [with the mountain pine beetle] stabilized,” said Thomson. “Now we can proceed.”
Although no new money beyond the $11 million indicated in Beyond the Beetle: A Mid-Term Supply Action Plan announced, that money is part of the current budget, so these inventories will be completed. “We’ve got money in the current budget for the activities identified in the plan,” said minister Thomson during last weeks announcement. “Over the next three years we’re going to spend over $100 million dollars on reforestation and inventory activities.”
Rustad would not later elaborate on the details of the three year plan. “It would be inappropriate to anything to be announced in advance of the [February 2013] budget,” said Rustad.