Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Tribune.

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Tribune.

FOREST INK: Plenty of changes happening in forest industry

A new process produces a biodegradable plastic-like product from wood waste powder

Thanks to readers’ comments and some recent articles there is lots to write about in the forest industry.

A new process produces a biodegradable plastic-like product from wood waste powder.

The trick is to get it to last long enough for the intended purpose and then let it degrade naturally, rather than end up like plastic in the oceans for hundreds of years. I recently got a restaurant takeout meal in what appeared to be a wood-fibre-based container that worked very well.

Drones are being used for many applications in forestry reforestation projects (mapping, planning and planting on difficult spots), as well as developing maps using lidar (light detection and ranging) for road building and inventory.

There is also a new drone on Mars doing similar mapping and reconnaissance functions. The drone is part of the Perseverance rover team that landed in February, 2021.

A previous rover became inoperative after its solar panels were covered with dust from a Martian storm.

This new, small-car-sized rover is powered by a thermal electrical generator running on the decay of plutonium isotopes that is expected to last two decades.

Perseverance will put on many kilometres along with the drone in search of life forms and accumulating samples to eventually return to Earth. How would you like a car that only needs filling up once every 20 years?

Susanne Simard has a new book: Finding the Mother Tree describing the root connections between many forest plant species. One of the items that caught my attention was the increased species resilience and production when there is a mix of conifers and hardwoods.

READ MORE: A year to remember for lumber prices

It is more proof that long-term stability and production is attained with increased biodiversity, and time to take a hard look at phasing out glyphosate use in forestry. Mexico is moving toward a removal of this herbicide from its various food production operations.

Jim Stirling writing for the Logging and Sawmilling Journal (April 2021) has an interesting article about the latest information on the Canada, U.S. softwood lumber agreement. Thanks to a recent document from an independent study of lumber imports and exports that shows Canadian producers are still being penalized with duties while our lumber exports to the U.S. have been decreasing (over a third in five years).

During the same time the exports of European lumber into the U.S. has been increasing from the long-term average of seven per cent up to 13 per cent. Maybe the high prices of lumber will finally convince U.S. builders to force a few U.S. lumber barons to drop the pressure to apply the tariffs.

The ongoing battles over the old growth forests needs to be replaced with new approach to managing the commercial forest land base.

In my opinion a partitioned AAC needs to be calculated on a portion of the commercial forest land base that will encourage long-term values that the existing old growth forests provide (i.e. older, larger trees).

This AAC would be considerably less than the cut on the second growth forests but it would provide the opportunity to look at the harvesting of some dead and diseased timber in the various reserves and set asides on existing landscapes.

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.

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