Effective immediately, the new allowable annual cut for the Quesnel Timber Supply Area is set at 2,607,000 cubic metres, chief forester Diane Nicholls announced Friday morning.
While the new cut level is about 35 per cent less than the four million cubic metres set in 2011, it is close to the average annual harvest over the past three years of about 2.7 million cubic metres and consistent with the allowable annual cut set in 1996 – before the mountain pine beetle infestation began.
The new allowable annual cut sets limits to harvest maximums of 127,000 cubic metres from deciduous tree-leading stands and 1.25 million cubic metres to living trees. The remainder must be harvested from dead trees.
The mountain pine beetle epidemic and the salvage logging of dead pine are ending in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area. This new cut level reflects a transition to lower mid-term harvest levels that will allow newly reforested areas to grow.
The Quesnel Timber Supply Area covers approximately 1.6 million hectares. Dominant tree species include lodgepole pine, spruce and Douglas-fir.
Communities in the area include Quesnel, Red Bluff, Barlow Creek, Dragon Lake, Bouchie Lake and Wells, as well as 13 First Nations communities.
The chief forester’s determination takes into consideration winter range for ungulates, including deer, caribou and moose, as well as habitat requirements for other wildlife, including the American white pelican and blue heron, which are managed through wildlife habitat areas.
There are three sawmills, two pulp mills, a plywood plant and a medium-density fibreboard plant operating within the timber supply area.
“After considering all of the available information on timber and non-timber resources – including social and economic objectives – I am confident that this new cut level will maximize the long-term supply of timber in the Quesnel Timber Supply Area,” Chief forester Diane Nicholls said.
The chief forester’s allowable annual cut determination is an independent, professional judgment based on information ranging from technical forestry reports, First Nations and public input to the government’s social and economic goals.
Under the Forest Act, the chief forester must determine the allowable annual cut in each of the province’s 37 timber supply areas and 34 tree farm licences at least once every 10 years.