Richard Vossen, Babine Forest Products woods manager presented preliminary independent report findings on timber supply.
Vossen said, “Since the Burns Lake meeting we’ve completed our own analysis of the lakes timber supply area to determine if we could see improvements to the mid term timber supply forecast by modeling a number of mitigation scenarios to help improve the base case predictions. It’s our primarily findings that we can maintain an annual allowable cut in the lakes timber supply area at a million cubic metres on a sustainable basis, if we do some changes to how we project timber supply and some changes on the land base.”
He said Hampton Affiliates asked Tesera Systems, a timber inventory consultant who’s well known in the industry, to lower the current annual allowable cut from two million cubic metres to one million cubic metres to conserve as much green timber as possible for the mid-term.
“Recent harvest data indicates that 27 to 40 per cent of the stands harvested have green fibre and have been harvested annually while the dead pine is being liquidated. In the Lakes timber supply area, as the volume of dead pine drops, the percentage of green non-pine timber harvested will increase. Lowering the short term annual allowable cut to one million cubic metres can conserve 300,000 cubic metres of green fibre annually in the Lakes timber supply area for mid term timber supply.”
Hampton Affiliates also modeled the harvest prioritization of pure leading-pine stands, or stands that have the highest percentage of pine, to utilize as much of the dead pine remaining and conserve as much of the green fibre that is on the land base. “We also increased current utilization standards and changed the minimum harvest volume from 140 cubic metres per hectare to 100 cubic metres per hectare. This increased the timber-harvesting land base, or the number of hectares within the timber supply area available for harvest.”
Vossen said that improving the utilization standards will increase the use of dead pine in the short term and facilitate better use in the mid-term. “This did show us the biggest results for increased mid-term timber supply. While this will increase logging costs, improved lumber markets in the future will, hopefully, cover these added costs.”
He said they also modeled some modest changes to land use constraints. “We didn’t remove anything; we still want to maintain high environmental standards. We just did some relaxation. On visual quality objectives we relaxed the visual quality objective by one management class. This maintains the presence of visual quality objectives in the Lakes timber supply area, ensuring blocks still employ good visual design at a reasonable size and scale. A modest change will allow for better use of the dead pine in beetle devastated landscapes while still protecting scenic values, which are so important to us.”
They also looked at modifying the way old-growth management areas are managed. “Like many other timber supply areas in the province, we strongly believe that old growth management areas should be managed non spatially rather than spatially. Rather than having a static footprint on the land base, our analysis considered the management of old growth values through non spatial targets. We made no changes to restrictions in place to protect key environmental values related to water, important wildlife habitat or soils. Essentially, we only proposed mitigation strategies that would not jeopardize our high standard of environmental stewardship and provide the greatest return for timber supply mitigation.”
They used updated growth and yield data tables to estimate and project growth on the land base.