Forestry Ink: What changes are needed in B.C.’s forest tenures?

Regular columnist Jim Hilton looks into forest tenure and diversification

Jim Hilton

Observer Contributor

As pointed out in the Engage discussion paper for the Interior Forest Sector Review, there are over a dozen forms of tenure, most focused on timber harvesting, but also associated activities like road building, each with their own specific administrative requirements.

In general terms, forest tenure is the right to access fibre and is often sought out to secure investment, provide operating certainty through fibre flow and community benefits through employment, taxation and, in some cases, revenue-sharing.

One of the questions asked in the discussion paper was “With the declining harvest levels and fully allocated AACs (Allowable Annual Cut), what approach should government take to diversifying tenure?”

As shown in the document, the majority of logs are harvested by a few large companies through volume-based replaceable forest licences.

As described above, the large forest companies used these licences to help secure investments for the mill construction and provide a certainty of fibre flow. The profits from these licences not only built the mills but also allowed for upgrades that produced more lumber with less people, and any extra profits allowed purchases of mills outside of the province.

In my opinion, all log volume associated with recent mill closures should be returned to the Crown to make up for anticipated deficits in the AAC.

Any future forest licences should have more flexibility, with at least some review periods to allow both sides to make changes. For example, the forest licence should have a timeframe related to the payoff period of the investment costs (usually about 15-plus years). After that, the licences should revert to the Crown so it could be issued for the encouragement of a type of facility that is needed to use another part of the forest biomass profile. This would mean we would move toward more lumber processors buying logs from the open market, which would put us in a better negotiating position on the softwood lumber deal with the U.S.

There should also be more area-based tenures like community forests, with the allowable annual cut calculated relative to the population of the community. In the case of the Williams Lake Community Forest (WLCF), it should be at least doubled from the current 40,000 cubic meters to accommodate forest protection plans around the city and surrounding communities.

I calculated the log profit from the WLCF was about $10 per cubic meter based on the $2 million in dividends returned to the two shareholders from the last cut control period ending in 2018. In addition to more profits staying in the community, the forest management on the community forest has been more focused on beetle salvage, improving fire preparedness and trying to deal with the utilization of residual material following logging, as well as getting the most profit from the logs.

As a member of the select standing committee for the WLCF, we have also been involved with funding scholarships and a variety of community projects submitted by a wide cross section of individuals and groups in the immediate community.

Area-based tenures also need some flexibility to take into account the more limiting features of the smaller remote communities where they will be a critical factor in getting logs and residual material to local manufacturing facilities or the more remote centralized mills.

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.

READ MORE: Forestry Ink: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world



editor@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Central Mountain Air suspending flights, effective April 11

The airline is suspending scheduled flights through to June 7

UPDATED: Rocky Mountaineer delays season until July 1

The popular luxury train had previously suspended operations through April due to COVID-19

COVID-19: Four weeks of downtime coming for Cariboo Pulp and Paper mill employees

West Fraser announces additional temporary production reductions in response to COVID-19

COVID-19: Caring for your mental health during a global pandemic

Canadian Mental Health Association Quesnel offers advice, resources to deal with anxiety and stress

Quesnel family pinning autism awareness onto community

Laura and Matthew Hender have sold thousands of autism awareness pins over the past eight years

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

Most Read