Monday, December 10, 2007

Polar Bears and Dogs video clip - having fun

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Interfor buys Pope and Talbot mills for 69 Million

A little late with this one, but in late November Interfor purchased three mills from cash-strapped P&T. The mills are in Grand Forks, Castlegar, and a third in South Dakota. Interfor was looking for some exposure to the southern BC Interior and in time this may look like a good deal. It also adds some stability and a more certain future for the communities involved. Much better than the uncertainty leading up to the sale announcement.

Link to story:

P&T has also received some heat from local politician Corky Evans regarding the potential sale of their private lands inside their Arrow TFL. In addition, many local contractors are wondering if they will ever see payment from P&T for work completed up to the P&T closure. Monies owed are reportedly in the millions, and it seems like any revenues P&T earns from crown or local resources should go first to paying off their contractors in the area.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Poor markets force closure of West Fraser mill

West Fraser mill shutdown affects 100 jobs in Terrace.

"This was a very difficult decision for the company to make, but unfortunately it has become necessary due to current market conditions," said Lou Poulin, general manager of Skeena Sawmills.

"These conditions include low U.S. housing starts and the unprecedented and rapid rise in the value of the Canadian dollar."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Science of Fire

Thanks to Janelle from KQED in San Francisco who sent me this email and video below.

I'm writing from KQED Public Broadcasting in San Francisco - We recently did a TV story on the science of fire for QUEST - our multimedia series on environment, science and nature.

We thought your readers might find this story to be a good background resource on fire science - it's posted in its entirely online and you can also embed the video in your site.

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego wildfires - huge evacuations

It's incredible that with all the resources in California, the wildfires are still large enough to force over a quarter million evacuations. This is what can happen with dry conditions and strong winds.

More than a dozen wildfires have engulfed the region, killing at least one person, injuring dozens more and forcing hundreds of thousands of evacuations. Overwhelmed firefighters said they lacked the resources to save many houses.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BC mountain caribou recovery plan released

BC plan includes spending 3 million dollars, killing predators, and protecting 2.2 million hectares of land. There are currently about 1,900 mountain caribou in 12 B.C. herds. It will be interesting to watch this plan unfold, because nothing has ever been attempted like this in BC.

Full story:

Groups to pay for Robson Bight wreckage check

Coast Guard thinks all the fuel has dissipated, but environmental groups are paying to check underwater wreckage.

On Aug. 20, a barge listed and accidentally dumped several pieces of logging equipment and a tanker truck carrying 10,000 litres of diesel fuel into Robson Bight, a protected killer whale habitat famed for its whale-rubbing beaches.

Several environmental groups will pay for an underwater look at sunken logging equipment in the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve off northeastern Vancouver Island.

Greenpeace, the Living Oceans Society, Orca Lab and two whale watching companies said Friday that $40,000 had been raised to fund the investigation, which is due to begin Oct. 30.

Full story

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Forestry Aid urged in Quebec

We could be seeing a lot more of this in other provinces if lumber markets don't improve.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's coming Throne Speech should include concrete measures to help Quebec's manufacturing industry, specifically the forestry sector, the leaders of the Bloc Québécois and the Quebec Federation of Labour said yesterday.

Emphasis should be placed on upgrading technology used by forestry companies and forming companies that create added-value products, Massé said.

Value added production would help, the problem is finding those who are willing to put in the great investment to start up facilities, and the guarantee of a steady wood supply to such facilities.

Global call for community Forestry

Participants attending an international
community forestry workshop organized by the Canadian Environmental Network
(RCEN) will be calling on global forest leaders to take action on community
forestry-a novel form of forest management and tenure which grants local
peoples rights over the management of local forest resources.

BC has been warming to the idea of community forests in the past few years, with ones established in places like Kaslo, Revelstoke and possibly Nakusp. There's definitely a place for community forests in the forest tenure system, although sometimes people within communities have a difference of opinion on how forests should be managed.

Full story:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Low food sources for Bears

Drought impacts on berry crops, fires affecting habitat, human development, all are playing a role this year in a lack of food for bears prior to hibernation. The same situation in the US west applies to many areas in BC.

Pushed from their homelands by a drought and pulled by the scent of human food, black bears across western US states are breaking into homes and tearing up garbage cans in a desperate search for nourishment ahead of hibernation.

Salmon spawn baby trout

Just when you think you've seen it all. Japanese researchers have found a way to spawn baby trout from salmon. This could have applications for declining stocks of various fish species. Expect a lot of debate on the ethics of this science though.

Japanese researchers put a new spin on surrogate parenting as they engineered one fish species to produce another, in a quest to preserve endangered fish.

Link to story:

Monday, September 10, 2007

New city trees suffer from drought

It was a tough summer for the City of Toronto. The city's newly planted trees along roads and sidewalks were seen to suffer from lack of rain and watering. I imagine it was the same for trees planted in cutblocks in parts of Canada that had a long, hot summer, like the Southern Interior of BC.

See full story here:

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Will the forest workers return?

Campbell River news reports that some skilled forest workers may not be returning to their jobs after the strike.

This makes sense in a hot economy. If you set your workers free into the job marketplace these days, can you really expect all of them to return? Mills and the forests are full of skilled management, trades people, truck drivers, and strong workers. Most have skills that are transferable elsewhere, into jobs that may be more stable and pay a similar wage. Construction is booming for the Olympics. Mining and Oil will be strong into the forseeable future. Families have to eat and bills need to be paid. So when the strike is settled and the workers are called back, will there be enough of them to keep things runnings?

But while the union and forestry companies are willing to wait to see who blinks first, skilled forestry workers are not. They’re leaving the coast to find jobs in the Interior logging industry or in the oil and gas industry in northern B.C. and Alberta.

Changing role of Forest Industry in Port Alberni

Interesting article on Port Alberni describing changing times for forestry. The influence of the forest industry seems to be moving down while other areas are picking up. Is this reflective of other areas on the coast? Forestry will always play a part in the economy, but other influences are moving ahead in BC like never before, such as technology, tourism, retirement, and people's desire for a less hectic lifestyle.

Two years ago, Mayor Ken McRae believed that if only a company with deep pockets would invest in a new small-log sawmill, the town's forestry future could continue.

Today, he sees the rising economic clout of first nations, tourism and the provincewide construction boom as playing a larger role. The valley's relatively low housing prices have made it an attractive alternative to higher-priced real estate on the Island's East Coast. New construction is booming.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fire season over in the Kootenays?

It looks like fire season may be over in the Kootenays, given a change to cooler weather. September is supposed to be clear and cooler, but dry, so we may have another few weeks before we are really in the clear. Lightning strikes over the weekend set off some hotspots in places, but nothing close to what the Sitkum, Argenta, and Pend D'Oreille fires were. Fire fighters can still be seen coming back to Nelson in the evenings, though most have now left the region.

I think we were lucky that things didn't get worse in summer 2007. The weather stayed so hot and dry, and we all see the increasing dead pine on the hillsides. Many pine you see now that are green may have beetle inside them, and will turn red next summer. On top of that, we were the worst area of the province for fires this year, and there are other parts of the interior with much larger expanses of dead pine than in the Kootenays. We might have gotten off lightly this year, but it may just be prolonging some real catastrophic fires waiting to happen.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rare coelacanth fish caught in Indonesia

Two months ago Indonesian fisherman Justinus Lahama caught a fish so exceptional that an international team of scientists rushed here to investigate.

It is only the second time this type of fish has been caught in Asia. They are only known to be located around waters near eastern Africa. The species dates back to the time of dinosaurs, and hasn't changed much since then. The fish also has legs!

Link to story:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Forest fires near Nelson BC

Smoke could be seen over the mountains to the north of Nelson BC in the afternoon on friday. From what I've heard there are two or more fires burning in areas near Nelson and Kaslo. Schroeder Creek and Sitkum Creek were two locations named. There wasn't really any smoke in Nelson, but tomorrow could be different. Hot weather is in the forecast for the next week at least. When you drive into Nelson from any direction you can see the dry, dead, red foliage of pine trees in the surrounding mountains. The conditions are almost perfect for forest fire activity. A forest fire fighter was interviewed on the news tonight, and he mentioned how difficult it was to fight fire in dead pine stands. The dry standing timber burns too hot and fast, making control efforts that much harder.

Herb Doman - Forestry Titan passes away

It was sad to hear that Herb Doman passed away this week. I used to work for Western Forest Products, a company owned by Doman Industries, back in the mid 90's. Western had interests in pulp and lumber. Some time after I left the company ran into problems with too much debt, and eventually went bankrupt before re-emerging with a new share structure. That must have been tough to take for a business owner. Herb Doman started out as a truck driver in forestry and slowly built his company over time, acquiring mills and tenures. He came to Canada as a young boy with his family, actually by mistake from what I was told. His family thought the boat was going to a different destination. With all the consolidation and turmoil in the forest industry these days, there won't be many more stories like Herb Doman's in the future.

Rare butterfly returns to habitat

Efforts to revive a rare butterfly population in California have paid off, now that these insects have been seen again in their native habitat after decades.

Though the surfers, skaters and beachgoers might not notice the butterflies fluttering by, conservationists are celebrating the return of the endangered El Segundo blue to its native habitat along Santa Monica Bay.

Link to story:

Monday, July 23, 2007

No cellphones in Slocan Valley

Canadian valley aims to keep cell phone-free quiet

Officials in a rural valley in British Columbia hope that keeping out cell phones will help attract residents and tourists who want to escape to the quiet of nature.

We are so used to cellphones now we expect that cell coverage will only keep increasing. Interesting to see a place (close to Nelson, BC) where the residents want to keep cellphones out. I wonder if all the residents feel the same way?

Link to story:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Extreme forest fire risk in southern BC

The forest fire hazard is at or close to extreme in southern BC, at least around Nelson where I live. We've had 30+ degree days for over a week now, and forests must be well dried out. If you look at the mountains from anywhere in Nelson, you can see the bright red trees that are dead from mountain pine beetle or douglas-fir beetle. I have some photos that I will be posting here in the next week that shows the red clusters on the hillsides. I haven't seen the news today to know if there are any forest fires in the area, didn't seem like there was any smoke outside today. Tomorrow there is thunder/lightning in the forecast, and yesterday evening a thunderstorm rolled through that didn't carry much rain. Unless we are real lucky or get a change in weather, the area is unfortunately ripe for forest fire activity.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Giant badgers new threat in Iraq

Interesting story on huge badgers in an Iraqi port city that walk the streets at night. Maybe there is some cellphone footage on youtube.

The Iraqi port city of Basra, already prey to a nasty turf war between rival militia factions, has now been gripped by a new fear - a giant badger stalking the streets by night.

Local farmers have caught and killed several of the beasts, but this has done nothing to dispel rumours of a bear-like monster that eats humans and was allegedly released into the area by British forces to spread panic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Danger from high cone crop on Fir tree

We have a huge Fir tree in our yard which appears to be having some problems. We had to have some limbs trimmed this year after the winter storms. The tree is now producing thousands of green pine cones, it is even leaning under the weight of them, and they are dropping continually. Is the tree in danger or is it just under a bit of stress from the trimming? I would appreciate any advice you can give me. I would hate to lose the tree but if it falls it will seriously damage the house, as it is quite close. Thank you for your help.


Here is my response to your question, if anyone else has some ideas please feel free to comment.

The annual cone production of conifers does vary, for example Douglas-fir trees have a high cone crop approximately every 5 to 7 years. Other years either have very poor or lower cone crops. When there's a heavy cone crop, that's when cone collections are done to provide seeds to grow seedlings for tree planting.

Conifers also produce a higher cone crop when they are under stress, the thought being to reproduce before mortality. So depending on how much pruning was done, the tree could be putting more energy into cone production due to stress, or it's just a coincidence that this is a heavy cone year. There could also be some other stress on the tree, such as root rot.

Since there is danger to your home and also to people, I would recommend consulting a tree specialist, such as a forester, forest technician or arborist, in your town. If you have a number of people to choose from, ask them for references for similar type of work - and check those references. High winds with heavy weight on the branches could lead to more breaking and falling limbs. It may be possible to just remove most of the cones, if that alleviates the problem. This is also a chance to get a general health status of the tree from the specialist. Large trees near homes and structures should be checked periodically to see how susceptible they are to blowing over and causing serious harm or damage.

I hope this helps.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lightning in BC

This article talks about the dangers of getting hit by lightning in some BC hotspots, but it also made me think of the possibility of starting forest fires.

Prince George, the Arrow Lakes and northeastern B.C. are the three areas of the province mostly likely to be hit by lightning, a meteorologist warned a week after a teenager survived a strike in one of these hot zones.

Link to story:

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lake Tahoe Wildfires

Some facts on this fire:

- covers 12.5 square km
- 225 buildings or homes destroyed, 500 more at risk
- over 1,000 people evacuated
- winds over 50 km/hr played a large part in the fire's spread
- almost 2,000 people working on containing the fire

They expect to have the fire contained by about July 3. This is a reminder what can happen under the wrong conditions when you have homes and structures in forested areas.

Stats from Bloomberg:

Can Vancouver Island Forestry Workers Avoid Shutdown?

Union negotiators are still at four different bargaining tables trying to get a decent deal for their members without a strike or lockout.

Talks involve TimberWest, Island Timberlands, Interfor and Forest Industrial Relations.

Link to article:

Usable logs cut and left to rot?

"Unconscionably high" volumes of usable logs are being left to rot in coastal forests, costing thousands of jobs and releasing carbon back into the atmosphere, according to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report released Thursday.

The report, by resource policy analyst Ben Parfitt, says that during the last two years 6.2 million cubic metres of timber was cut down but not hauled out of coastal forests -- enough material to fill 200,000 logging trucks.

Link to article:

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Virus in Forestry Manufacturing

Very interesting article describing a poor outlook for forestry manufacturing in BC.

The forestry sector in Canada has been especially hard hit. Mills are being knocked down like ten pins in Northern Ontario, Quebec and elsewhere. And now it is BC’s turn. Forestry towns in the province like Port Alberni, Terrace and others, are already suffering the effects.

Link to story:

Flood watch still on for BC

The problem is mainly in the North, but the warm weather we've had over the last week (melting snowpacks), along with expected rains starting Monday, are renewing fears of rising rivers.

the Upper Fraser, the Bulkley and the Skeena rivers will be above local flood stages soon. The Upper Fraser River in the Prince George region is expected to hit flood level by Sunday or Monday. It could stay there for a week or more.

Link to story:

Forest worker rescued by military helicopter on Coast

This man is lucky to be alive, and not seriously injured.

The wrong part of a tree came down for a 40 year old logger on Nelson Island this week, taking him with it for a 60 to 80 foot drop.

Link to story:

Friday, June 1, 2007

Loch Ness Monster spotted on video?

Always fun to see news footage of loch ness, sasquatch, and new creatures never before seen. See for yourself:

An amateur scientist has captured what Loch Ness Monster watchers say is among the finest footage ever taken of the elusive mythical creature reputed to swim beneath the waters of Scotland's most mysterious lake.

Link to news and video:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Forest Fires already?

We're not even into June, and already there have been large forest fires in Ontario and Quebec.

In Quebec, 1,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, and there are 28 forest fires, with 5 out of control. Some of the fires in Ontario and Quebec are dozens of hectares in size, and the largest in Ontario is over 800 hectares.

BC has sent over 200 fire fighters to help out. It is probably only a matter of time before things heat up in our province too. The forecast for the next few weeks is warm weather, and we have thousands of hectares of dry, beetle killed pine that is very susceptible.

And we thought Grizzly Bears were Big...

Working in the woods, you sometimes think about running into bears, and how big they can get.

This hog would probably dwarf most bears in BC.

An 11-year-old boy used a pistol to kill a wild hog his father says weighed a staggering 1,051 pounds and measured 9 feet 4, from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail. Think hams as big as car tires.

Link to story:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rising Canadian dollar and Forestry

Recent reports predict that the Canadian dollar will stay strong, and could reach parity with the US dollar. This ofcourse places pressure on Canadian forest companies who sell to the US, because they receive less in exchange when they convert their US sales to Canadian dollars. It could be a rough road ahead for lumber companies, as the outlook is not good for the US dollar, and the Canadian dollar is expected to stay strong as long as metals and oil remain in a bull market.

Signs that commodities are at all time highs?

When these kinds of things are happening you know that we are in a bull market for metals.

Police in New Westminster are investigating the theft of $10,000 worth of copper wire from the lamp standards at Mercer Stadium in the Lower Mainland city overnight.

Unstable slopes and landslide risk

Be careful where you buy or build your home!

A new geotechnical report has concluded 27 North Vancouver homes were built on an unstable slope, and that nine of them are at very high or extreme risk from landslides.

Deputy City Engineer Douglas Pope said the nine homeowners at highest risk would have to spend up to $200,000 on slope stabilization work by fall.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Raymond Royer - the Green CEO

Here is an interesting article about Raymond Royer, the CEO of paper company Domtar who recently attended the Green Living Show in Toronto to hear Al Gore speak, and to mix with the attendees.

He seems to enjoy hearing all sides of environmental issues, and talks about sustainability in forestry. I think he has a pretty good attitude and is dealing with the realities in today's markets, where many customers want a product from a sustainable forest.

Royer is quoted as saying "this is an industry that has been very traditional, where people have been doing the same thing successfully for 25 years. They figure: Why should we change? The difference I see now is the world market, but not everybody sees it"

Link to full article:

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Continued Flood risk for BC

With warm temperatures forecast for the start of May, it looks like flood warnings are going up for the north and central areas of BC, and the Lower Mainland. A warm May could also bring an early start to this summer's fire season.

Low-level flooding has already begun in the Houston area of northern B.C. and some parts of the Peace River region.

This past week, the Federal government gave B.C. $16.5 million to help control flooding along the Fraser River.

Link to more on this story:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BC Timber Sales Registers with BC Forest Safety Council

Safety is an ever present issue in the forest industry, and the new drive affecting many companies this year is WORKSAFE and the BC Forest Safety Council. Many companies, including licensees and consultants, have registered in the early part of this year. Contractors and consultants working for BCTS will need to register as well for contracts advertised after April 1, 2007.

Here is an April 24 announcement from the government:

VICTORIA – In its commitment to improve safety for forest workers, the BC Timber Sales program has registered with the BC Forest Safety Council, marking its intention to achieve SAFE Companies certification within six months.

“As the province’s largest public land manager, BC Timber Sales has made safety an overriding principle in its activities,” said Forests and Range Minister Rich Coleman. “This move towards certification is an important step in meeting the Province’s commitment to improve safety for all those who work in our forests.”

Under its new safety program, all BC Timber Sales fieldwork contracts advertised after April 1, 2007 require operators to be registered with the BC Forest Safety Council. All employers working on fieldwork contracts, such as road building or silviculture, must be registered.

In addition, all timber sales licences advertised by BCTS after April 1, 2007 require all persons or companies working on a timber sales licence to be registered in the SAFE Companies program, which signals its intent to be certified within six months.

“BC Timber Sales is promoting safe worksites and safety improvements,” said Coleman. “This step and other actions across the industry are helping create a culture of safety and helping ensure workers arrive home safely at the end of the day.”

The SAFE Companies program of the BC Forest Safety Council provides registrants with clear, practical standards so they can establish and maintain successful health and safety programs that fit their needs. To date, over 1,000 forest licensees in B.C. have voluntarily applied for SAFE Companies certification.

As part of the Province’s forest safety commitment, BC Timber Sales and the Ministry of Forests and Range continue to work closely with the BC Forest Safety Council and WorkSafeBC on a wide range of operational and policy issues aimed at improving worker safety.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

TimberWest selling some prime Vancouver Island land

Seems that land on Vancouver Island is becoming more valuable as real estate, than as managed forest land. If you are in the business of forest products, what does it say when you are willing to sell off over 10% of the land you use for growing trees?

TimberWest is the province's largest landowner, with 334,000 hectares, mostly on Vancouver Island. The company conducted a strategic review of its property in 2006 and identified 38,000 hectares of forest lands -- an area more than three times as large as the City of Vancouver -- that have greater value as real estate.

Full story here:

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sealers boats stranded in Atlantic

About 100 sealers boats have been locked up in ice flow jams in the Atlantic ocean. It could take up to a week to free the boats, while the sailors deal with food and fuel shortages. Many captains don't want to leave their vessels, even though they could be rescued. The heaving and moving ice has the potential to lift the boats out of the water, and even crush them. Icebreakers that were sent in to help free the boats have become trapped themselves. I could see this happening to maybe one or a few boats, but in this day and age with all the technology and reporting we have, it's amazing so many were affected.

Full article here:

Williams Lake Harvest increased due to Mountain Pine Beetle

from BC goverment news release, April 18, 2007:

Effective immediately, the allowable annual cut for the Williams Lake timber supply area will increase to 5.77 million cubic metres in response to the mountain pine beetle epidemic, chief forester Jim Snetsinger announced today.

The new allowable annual cut represents an increase of two million cubic metres per year from the previous allowable annual cut of 3,768,400 cubic metres.

“To reduce the impacts of the beetle and speed the recovery of new forests, the allowable annual cut should be increased,” said Snetsinger. “However, the majority of the increased and current harvesting must be directed towards the most heavily infested areas west of the Fraser River to preserve as much of the non-pine for future harvest as possible.”

In his determination, the chief forester emphasizes that harvesting must be focused in areas west of the Fraser River and in stands containing more than 70 per cent pine trees. The new harvest level also provides flexibility to address other forest health issues such as the spruce bark beetle.

The determination incorporates the requirements of existing land-use plans and forest practices legislation. Ministry of Forests and Range staff will continue to monitor the infestation and advise the chief forester if it subsides or expands beyond projected levels, in which case further examination of the timber supply may be required.

Under the timber supply review, the chief forester must determine how much wood can be harvested in each of the province’s 37 timber supply areas and 33 tree farm licences at least once every five years. The chief forester can determine new allowable annual cuts in response to abnormal situations, such as the mountain pine beetle epidemic, or postpone a decision for another five years if a harvest level is not expected to change significantly.


Comments: This is not a huge surprise, but it results in quite a significant increase in annual allowable cut (just over 50%). I think this will help address pine forests that would have died out and remained unproductive for a long time, or worse, would have been highly susceptible to wildfire. Important to note that this increased cut is supposed to focus on pine forest types, and that non-pine types should remain unharvested in the meantime.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

BC announces 11.5 Million for forestry marketing

The Premier of BC announced an $11.5 million injection into forestry marketing to ensure B.C. maintains a competitive edge.

Breakdown of how the dollars will be spent:

- $9.9 million for marketing, product development and research through the Forestry Innovation Investment fund.

- $1.59 million for 18 projects to address mountain pine beetle issues such as adapting pulp bleaching processes to use blue-stained wood chips, determining optimum processes for production of ethanol and other bio fuels, and investigating protective coatings for soy-oil treated siding and blue-stained lumber for home construction.

The Premier noted that recent trips to Japan, Korea and China have revealed specific markets for products such as flooring, doors, trusses, and panelling.


The way Asia is booming now I'm surprised that most of our wood products aren't heading that way already. I think this is a positive move by the government to help develop and expand trade with Asia.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A look at Quesnel and the mountain pine beetle

The CBC recently did a piece on the town of Quesnel that discussed the current economy of the area, and touched on the expected future of the town after the mountain pine beetle infestation has passed.

I once did some work in Quesnel and was surprised that pine accounted for a high amount of the timber harvest in the area - something like 80% or 90%. When you consider that the MPB will kill virtually all of the pine, you have to wonder about the future of forestry in Quesnel. The focus of jobs will likely turn to silviculture and stand re-establishment, and away from mills and harvesting jobs.

Risk of landslides evacuates homes in Lower Mainland

We're not out of the woods yet in terms of this spring's slide events from high water levels and rapid snow melt.

In Mission, four homes had to be evacuated because of slide risk, and it turns out these homes were built on unstable land fill. A few weeks ago two other homes had to be demolished in the same area because they were left on the edge of a slide. I wonder if any other homes in the area will be affected by these events.

Mission officials said more families could soon be forced out of their homes.

Engineers will soon be assessing eight other houses in the neighbourhood that they believe may also be at risk.

Full story here:

Saturday, April 7, 2007

For all those who love to fish

I couldn't resist posting about this story about a 100 year old rockfish caught in Alaska. This rock fish might have been the oldest living creature in Alaska.

A commercial fishing boat hauled in what may have been one of the oldest creatures in Alaska — a giant rockfish estimated to be about a century old.

Check out the great photo in this news report.

Friday, April 6, 2007

New climate change report with more detail

A new climate change report was approved today by an international conference in Belgium attended by scientists and representatives from over 120 countries.

The report breaks down the climate change effects through regions of the world, and tells us what kind of events we could expect to experience. It also says there is still time to change this future if correct action is taken.

It was interesting to see that there was some government influence on toning down the report. Many scientists were upset by that, but in the end there was agreement on the final version.

Some major predictions:

The world faces increased hunger and water shortages in the poorest countries, massive floods and avalanches in Asia, and species extinction unless nations adapt to climate change and halt its progress.

The poorest of the poor in the world — and this includes poor people in prosperous societies — are going to be the worst hit.

Areas in drought will become even more dry, adding to the risks of hunger and disease. The world will face heightened threats of flooding, severe storms and the erosion of coastlines.

North America will experience more severe storms with human and economic loss, and cultural and social disruptions. It can expect more hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires, it said. Coasts will be swamped by rising sea levels.

Africa will be hardest hit. By 2020, up to 250 million people are likely to be exposed to water shortages. In some countries, food production could fall by half, it said.

Full story here:

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Forestry fines increase in Alberta

It looks like governments are starting to get more serious about decreasing the risk of forest fires and environmental damage caused by human activities. Alberta has increased fines for open fires, collecting firewood, and improper atv use.

I wonder if these fines will really have an effect, most people won't even know about it until they are actually fined for the offense. And I'm not sure why firewood collecting isn't allowed. In BC, you can get a free firewood collecting permit, drive into the forest, and take anything by the roadside that is dead or on the ground. At least that is what I see people doing every fall.

Starting May 1st, fines for starting an open fire within a kilometre of forested public land in the province will rise to $500 from $50.

Anyone caught taking firewood will face a fine of $250, up from $75.

And if you operate a quad or snowmobile outside of designated areas expect to pony up $250, instead of the current $75.

Full story here:

Monday, April 2, 2007

Climate change effects on forest companies

It was reported today that Western Forest Products has been hit with production problems over the past year, related to weather events and likely even climate change. I can relate to these issues because I worked on the coast for WFP in the mid-90's.

Both logging and lumber production were off significantly for WFP. Winter storms caused delays in delivering timber by water, which created log shortages at mills. Summer 2006 was long and hot, and the threat of forest fires caused logging shutdowns.

Timber supply shortages have also caused companies to temporarily close their mills. Over the past winter, roads on coastal forestry roads have washed out, slopes became too saturated to log and tow boats have been slowed by bad weather. In Port Alberni, one of WFP's mills was forced to shut down when a creek burst its banks and flowed through the mill.

Are these signs of things to come? Long, hot summers shutting down logging operations. Wet and unpredictable winter weather causing further production delays. Warmer temperatures supporting insect populations. Storms damaging forests by windthrow and breakage. Logging on the coast is already an expensive undertaking, with air and water travel the only access in many areas, and many years of low pulp prices.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Is ethanol blend 'greener' than gasoline?

Does commercially available ethanol-blended fuel produce cleaner emissions than regular gasoline? Most people would think so.

The federal government has committed $2 billion in incentives for ethanol. Ethanol is made from crops such as wheat and corn.

What do the scientists say?

'Not much difference' say scientists at Environment Canada, who ran tests on four different vehicles. Looking at the tailpipe emissions from a greenhouse gas perspecive, there wasn't much difference between regular gasoline and 10% ethanol blend. They did find a reduction in carbon monoxide (which helps produce smog). Emissions from other gases, such as hydrocarbons, actually increased in some cases.

If you look at the big picture instead of just tailpipe emissions, however, there may be some benefits. Ethanol comes from a source that is a renewable resource (like forestry), and that has to be taken into account. Even at a 10% blend, that is 10% less oil and gas that has to be discovered and manufactured, which isn't a clean process itself. Almost anything that reduces the world's dependence on oil is probably a good thing at this stage of the game.

Also, if we are already at 10% blend, who is to say it can't get to 20%, 30%, etc. What will the results be then? Blended-fuel technology has to keep moving forward.

A year ago I never would have thought there would be this much public debate going on about green and environmental issues. It is one of the dominant issues in mainstream media now, probably because people are demanding change.

So in the end, it does help to look at the big picture.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Denver Post article on uses for Beetle killed trees

Interesting article from Colorado in the Denver Post - Dead trees turned to new uses

We want fires suppressed, loggers barred, our forests undisturbed. But the forest needs disturbance, says Ron Cousineau, assistant district forester for the Colorado State Forest Service.

Now we are faced with the dilemma of what to do with more than half a million dead trees on over 700,00 acres and a bare-bones logging industry. Property owners have nowhere to take infected trees. Slash piles burn everywhere.

local entrepreneurs have started turning blue-stained lumber into paneling, landscaping timbers, rails and posts - refusing to believe beetle-kill wood is worthless.

Biomass heat is one of many green options being considered for the new Grand County Courthouse due to break ground this spring.

Link to full article:

Strange Humanoid Encounter in Tofino?

Just heard about a possible 'bigfoot' sighting in Tofino. There is a short video clip of it on YouTube, which I've included below. It took place in July 2006. It's hard to make out what is in the clip, maybe a bear, but I thought I'd post it here for fun.

Humanoid encounter in Tofino

Pine Beetle education kits in BC Classrooms

Recent BC government news:

The Province and the Council of Forest Industries have teamed up to develop education kits for teaching secondary school students about the mountain pine beetle and how British Columbia is responding to the epidemic.

“Students want to know what’s happening with the mountain pine beetle,” said Forests and Range Minister Rich Coleman. “These kits provide the learning tools to teach them everything from how a beetle attacks a tree to the economic impacts of the epidemic and how to mitigate them.”

A teacher’s binder, classroom posters, video, slide show, vials containing adult beetles and larvae, and bark and wood samples are featured in the kits. The teacher’s binder includes a lesson plan, curriculum connections, activities list, glossary of beetle-related terminology, background notes, and links to other learning resources.

Students will learn through suggested activities such as research, written and oral reports, visual presentations, class discussions, guest speakers directly involved in pine beetle management, and field trips.

The mountain pine beetle education kits have been distributed to more than 90 school districts across the province.


This is a perfect opportunity to help students learn about bark beetle populations and their impacts on forests, especially while it's happening right in our own backyard. It's easier to learn something when it has a direct impact on you, or people you know.

Cariboo Chilcotin gets Mountain Pine Beetle funding

Recent news from the BC Government:

Communities in the Cariboo-Chilcotin will benefit from another $900,000 to help address the economic impacts of the mountain pine beetle infestation.

The Province is working closely with communities affected by the mountain pine beetle infestation to help them deal with the short-term effects of the infestation and encourage long-term economic stability.

The Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition will receive $900,000 to support economic diversification efforts. The Coalition received $1.6 million in 2005. Since then, the Coalition has worked to develop a comprehensive package of background reports and strategies to manage the beetle’s environmental, economic and social impacts. Most recently, the Coalition has developed a Secondary Wood Products Strategy, which aims to double the size of the sector by 2017.

The additional funding will allow the Coalition to complete its comprehensive Regional Community Economic Diversification Strategy for the Cariboo-Chilcotin region.

“The CCBAC is determined that our communities will not only survive the mountain pine beetle infestation but that we will prosper,” said 100 Mile House Mayor Donna Barnett, also the chair of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition. “This support and funding from the Province strengthens our ability to meet that challenge.”

The Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition includes representatives from the municipalities of 100 Mile House, Quesnel, Williams Lake, the Cariboo Regional District, and First Nations, and from the forest industry and conservation sectors.

The Province’s comprehensive Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan is designed to mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of the infestation. For more information, or to download a copy, visit online.


It's great to see provincial and local governments thinking in the medium to long term. Many interior BC communities will start to feel pressure on their economies when the mountain pine beetle threat has passed, and lodgepole pine stands are depleted. Forestry drives the economic engine of many interior BC communities through mill jobs and logging jobs, and all the spinoff employment for companies that serve the forest industry. These communities should be working now to diversify their economies into non-forestry related industries, so the impact won't be so great from the expected downturn in forestry.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Mountain pine beetle benefits?

I just wanted to put out a question today and see what kind of response there is.

Is there any benefit to the mountain pine beetle?

We all know there are many negatives associated with the MPB, such as large amounts of dead forest, lost habitat for deer and wildlife, loss of pine trees in urban areas, effects on hydrology in watersheds, effects on visuals, economic effects, and so on.

Does anyone know of any instances where the MPB has had a positive impact?

The only examples I can think of are benefits to insect populations that invade the dead timber, and in turn this must provide more of a food source for birds and small mammals.

Anyone else, please comment?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

BC Government new Bill affects forest fires, forest activities

Here is some recent government forestry news that I thought was worth posting. It seems the government is focusing on three 'timely' subjects; forest fires, First Nations, and mountain pine beetle.

Announced on March 15

Under new provisions of the Forest and Range Practices Act, people causing damage that adversely affects an ecosystem, such as driving four-wheel drive vehicles in wetlands, or riding ATVs irresponsibly in alpine terrain or range lands, will face penalties of up to $100,000. Cases prosecuted in the criminal courts carry maximum fines of $100,000, up to one year in jail, or both.

Bill 18 also contains provisions to other statutes, including the Forest Act, Wildfire Act, Range Act and Forestry Revitalization Act to:

· enable local governments to reduce the threat of interface wildfires to their communities through changes to the Forestry Licence to Cut;

· streamline government’s ability to increase the volume and area of a First Nation tenure, and to protect potential Aboriginal rights and title;

· provide woodlot operators with greater operational flexibility to improve their economic stability; and

· make changes to provisions governing cutting permits to facilitate the prompt harvesting of mountain pine beetle-attacked timber.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bald eagle nest discovered in Philadelphia

The first bald eagle nest has been found in the city of Philadelphia in more than 200 years. The location of the site is not being released because they don't want the nest disturbed. However, the site is being monitored. Officials aren't yet sure if the pair will successfully breed.

An official said that a nest within the city "demonstrates the resilience of this species and its apparent growing tolerance to human activity." Last year they had confirmed more than 100 bald eagle nests in the state of Pennsylvania for the first time in over a hundred years. Bald eagles have a threatened status in the state.

In April 2006, an eagle nest on Hornby Island in BC was broadcast over an internet webcam and attracted millions of online visitors wanting to see if the eggs would hatch.

Like the beaver in New York story earlier this year, it's great to see wildlife returning to areas where they have't been seen in a long time.

Ontario's boreal forest and global warming

A report released last week by Vancouver-based ForestEthics said continued logging of the intact boreal forest is contributing to increased carbon dioxide levels and accelerating climate change. It also suggests Ontario has to change its logging practices if it's serious about cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Ontario Natural Resources minister David Ramsay countered that only two per cent of trees in northern Ontario are logged each year. Ramsay did clarify that the province does recognize the role the boreal forest can play in halting climate change, but he said the province doesn't have to change its logging practices.

Canada's boreal forest stretches across the northern part of Canada, covers millions of hectares, and contains spruce, fir, pine, and larch trees.

A few things I would consider in this debate include:

- Forestry is a renewable resource. All the areas harvested by companies must be restocked with new trees that will continue to benefit the fight against global warming. True, it takes time for the small seedlings to grow and reach the level of CO2 uptake from the previous forest. But consider that every year previously harvested areas are coming online with older forest, there is likely minimal net loss over the entire managed area.

- Wood and fibre create necessary products and jobs. This shouldn't be an overriding factor, but if there is less supply of wood to produce lumber, for example, where will companies turn to get their building materials? Steel? Cement? Plastic? Or some other chemical based product? Personally, I am more comfortable knowing that the wood I use for my own projects is coming from an area that is being managed to produce a new forest. Wood is also more easily recycled than other building materials. As for jobs and the economy, how can we fight global warming if we have a poor economy, especially due to job losses in a renewable sector?

- Harvesting below a sustainable rate leaves more forest available to insect attack and forest fire. We already know the mountain pine beetle is in Alberta, and threatening to enter the boreal forest. Spruce and fir have their own bark beetles too. Is it better to leave more aging forest standing than necessary? Older forests generally contain more fuels and are more susceptible to insect attack - while newly harvested and planted areas have a reduced fire hazard and less fuel to burn. If harvest levels are reduced, I think it could lead to more forest fires and more dead timber from insect attacks. And when wildfire and insects have passed through areas, who will restock them? Nature can take a long time to reforest areas on her own. The environmental groups? The government? It will take a lot of resources and money to reforest large areas where there has been no economic gain, and where there is standing and fallen dead timber to work around. How much CO2 is lost from forest fires and dead forest? With harvested areas, the company uses some of the revenue from the timber to manage and restock the area.

We have already seen what can happen with aging pine forests in BC in terms of insects and fire, and we will probably see more of it in summer 2007. Provincial and National Park boundaries mean nothing to fire and pests.

At this time, when global warming, insect attacks and wildfire are interacting and their effects on forests becoming more common, I would seriously consider what benefit is gained from preserving more susceptible forest in the hope that it will be there for decades to help fight global warming.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New Leopard species discovered in Borneo

Who says there is nothing left to discover in this world?

I just read today that a new leopard species has been discovered, the clouded leopard of Borneo. It is an entirely new species that is unique to Borneo's rainforest.

Genetic tests showed that the clouded leopard of Borneo is a unique species of cat and is not the same as the leopard found in mainland Southeast Asia. Experts have known about the leopard for years, but never thought it was unique.

Another interesting fact about the clouded leopard is they have the longest canine teeth relative to body size of any cat.

In addition to the leopard, scientists recently identified over 50 new species of animals and plants in Borneo.

A total of 5,000 to 11,000 clouded leopards are estimated to live in the jungles of Borneo, and the total figure in Sumatra could be 3,000 to 7,000 individuals.

When I read a story like this, I wonder what else exists in our forests and oceans that still remains unknown?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mountain Pine Beetle news

News out today has forestry specialists commenting on mountain pine beetle activity in BC. I would say some of the information reported is commonly known by most in the forest industry, but I thought it was still worth noting.

Attacking earlier: The pine beetles used to start their flight in July and August to begin their attack on pine trees. Now with the warmer winters, they start their flight as early as May, and may have more than one flight per year. When the flight started later in the year, attacked trees used to hold their green foliage over winter and start to turn red the following summer. When the attack starts earlier in the year, the foliage turns red in the same year.

Attacking younger pine stands: It used to be that the pine beetle would only attack mature pine, which generally have larger diameter and are 80 to 100+ years old. Researchers have found that the beetle now attacks younger and smaller pine trees. This means that areas with younger pine stands that were once thought to be safe are actually vulnerable.

Past the point of no return in BC: Researchers said that the pine beetle is now very well established and has spread too far for there to be any way to stop them. The populations have built up and the only thing that will end the infestation is the lack of pine forests. Unless there is some unforeseen event that stops the beetle, they will continue to attack the majority of the remaining pine forests in BC.

Hope for Alberta: Researchers said that although the pine beetle has become active in Alberta, it is still possible to suppress them if enough resources are employed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Heavy rainfall, floods and washouts in BC

I guess it is that time of year again.

Heavy rainfall over the past weekend has caused flooding and washouts in the lower mainland and southeast parts of the province. A number of highway closures are in effect. Rainfall was measured at up to 200mm over a two day period around Vancouver.

Rivers around Vancouver were rising at a rate of 10 to 13cm per hour on Sunday. Environment Canada issued a flood warning for the Coquitlam and Nicomeckl rivers.

The weather has now changed with a dryer forecast ahead, but this is a good reminder to check the highway and weather reports if you are doing any traveling in BC at this time of year. Especially if there has been a period of continued rainfall. For example, two highway sections near Hope were closed for rockslides and mudslides. The highway between Golden and Revelstoke was closed for similar concerns.

Spring appears to be coming early, and snowpacks in the mountains are at their highest levels in years, if not decades. If we have a prolonged period of warm weather and rains, we could be in for another round of high water levels and debris slides.

As a side note, the logging industry usually slows down at this time of year, because roads become too soft and rains are more likely to cause runoff and sedimentation. Activities like ground based harvesting and hauling are normally shut down until dryer weather comes and forest roads firm up.

Friday, March 9, 2007

New Energy - Ground heat, Waste wood, Underground CO2

Every time you turn around these days you learn of new technologies being developed to encourage cleaner energy and less waste. A year ago I never would have thought that clean energy would be such a hot topic in mainstream media.

Just today, three stories on seperate news channels caught my eye.

The first was a story about a former BC environment minister who is building a house in BC. Instead of using only natural gas or electricity to heat the house, which would cost hundreds of dollars per month (it's a 9000 sq ft home), they are using ground geothermal heat. Once you get a few feet underground the temperature remains constant year round, and well above freezing. Basically, they are digging trenches in the back yard about 6 feet deep, laying pipes that contain liquid, and the system will be used to heat the home at a cost of under $100 per month. And the ground heat is always there, an endless source of clean energy. I've heard of this being done in the US, but not in BC. If this were done on a large scale imagine the energy savings, both in dollars and environmentally.

The second story was about using waste wood, say from mountain pine beetle killed timber, or wood scraps from sawmills, as a source for clean energy. They are developing ways that wood can be used to create energy without causing the harmful smoke and CO2 emissions normally associated with wood burning. We have a huge potential supply of waste wood as a result of harvesting in BC. This is wood that is not large enough to mill, or has rot, leftover pieces from mills, and wood that is not suitable for cutting or wanted by pulp mills. Currently, we use the wood that is economic and the rest is discarded, burned, or left on site. Forest operations could become more efficient in the future - we'll continue to use what's conventionally economic, waste wood can go to create clean energy, and a new forest gets established on logged areas that will help to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The third story involved the oil industry. Again, new technology is coming along that will allow CO2 emissions produced by the oil industry to be pumped underground. The news story said once the CO2 is underground, it would stay forever. As a bonus, the CO2 can also be used to help extract oil deposits - which may put less pressure on water or natural gas, two compounds that are used now to help extract oil but can not afford to be wasted.

I am not a specialist on these new clean energy strategies, but I look forward to seeing them used on a large scale.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Mountain pine beetle and hydrology

Just heard on the news today - researchers have reported how the mountain pine beetle epidemic is affecting hydrology in our watersheds.

Researchers have shown that when pine trees are killed, more light reaches the ground which in turn kills mosses on the forest floor. Mosses are responsible for retaining up to 50% of moisture that falls through the forest canopy. When the mosses are gone, the excess water runs off hillsides, creating more erosion and sedimentation than previously occurred. This will have serious impacts in areas where watersheds are used for drinking water, or where fisheries values are high.


For my own side note, when pine forests are killed off their root systems no longer act to soak up moisture from the ground. This causes water tables to rise and compounds the problem identified by the researchers. That is the benefit of harvesting these pine stands where possible - forest companies are legally required to reforest areas they have logged, so forest cover will return sooner and hydrology will gradually improve. If areas of dead pine are left on their own, a new forest can take many more years to establish, plus you have the threat of a high amount of dry forest fuels that could lead to wildfire.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Pine Beetle infestation doubles in Alberta

Recent news reports that the mountain pine beetle infestation has doubled in Alberta, from 1.5 million trees to 3.0 million trees, in just the past year.

The increase is blamed on strong winds last summer that helped carry beetles from BC into Alberta. Also, warmer winters are no longer able to kill off enough of the beetle population.

At that rate, you have to question what the Alberta government can do to mitigate the problem. How fast can they plan to build roads, harvest areas, and utilize the wood? Do they have the resources to deal with huge wildfires that will likely occur in the dead, dry forests that can't be harvested? Human resources are already tight in Alberta due to the oil boom, so where will the forestry workers come from?

What's more alarming is that infested trees have been found near Slave Lake, which is close to the boreal forest. If the beetle is able to advance farther north and east, they could spread all the way to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Forestry is the third lasgest industry in Alberta, behind oil and agriculture, and the continued spread of mountain pine beetle will have massive impacts on forest companies and communities that depend on the forest resource.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Careers in Forestry - shortage of workers

What is the future of the forestry worker?

From everything I've heard, we will have a huge shortage of forestry workers in BC in the coming years. How did this come about?

Firstly, many people currently working in forestry are nearing retirement. Those baby boomers are starting to hit the retirement age, and there are lots of them! As they leave the workforce, they will create many openings. This is also happening in other industries and will be a Canada-wide problem.

In the early 2000's, the forest industry entered one of it's cyclical downturns. There were too many workers and not enough work. Many people exited the industry and found jobs in other areas of the economy. The future outlook was bad. Young people entering college and university didn't see forestry as a viable career. Who wants to graduate and not find work, when there are so many other options?

Declining enrollment in forestry programs has now led to many educational institutions cancelling or cutting back their forestry faculties.

So now we are left in the position of a huge retirement wave coming, along with lesser capabilities of producing the qualified, educated forestry workers the industry will need. Right now it seems that we are just at the beginnning of this scenario, and already I'm seeing and hearing about companies that can't find extra workers. I believe the worst is still to come.

A similar case can be made for the workers who actually go out and build roads, cut trees, and haul wood. Who will replace them when they enter their well-deserved retirement years? Interesting, on one road building crew last year I met one individual who was well into his later 60's, if not 70's, but he is still there because he loves the forestry life!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

2007 Gypsy Moth Treatment Planned in Courtenay, BC

I just read a news release on a planned gypsy moth treatment in BC. I've included parts of the release below, in between the dashed lines. With environmental awareness the highest it's probably ever been, aerial spray programs usually get people concerned about the pros and cons.


The Ministry of Environment has approved aerial spraying for an isolated infestation of gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) in Courtenay this spring.

The planned treatment consists of three aerial applications of Foray 48B between April 15 and June 30, 2007 to control the moth. Foray 48B contains Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki (Btk), a naturally occurring, soil-based organism that only impacts caterpillars that eat sprayed leaves. Btk is naturally present in urban, forest and agricultural soil around the province. It has been approved to control gypsy moth larvae since 1961.

Treatment dates are weather-dependent and will be advertised closer to the first application date. Each treatment application will be completed before 7:30 a.m. The Ministry of Forests and Range will advise of spray dates one week and 24 hours before spraying begins.

Large gypsy moth populations defoliated sections of forests and residential areas in Ontario and the eastern U.S. in recent years and pose a threat to the province’s forests, orchards and urban trees. The moths are unintentionally brought to B.C. on vehicles, trains and materials from affected areas in eastern North America on an ongoing basis. The presence of moths can pose a quarantine threat and in 1999 resulted in the U.S. threatening to refuse shipments of trees and plants from B.C.’s nurseries without additional certifications.


According to wikipedia, Bt is included in specific insecticides under trade names such as Dipel and Thuricide. Because of their specificity, these pesticides are regarded as environmentally friendly, with little or no effect on humans, wildlife, pollinators, and most other beneficial insects.

It seems that Bacillus thuringiensis is really not a threat to anything but the moths. Carefully planned aerial spraying, especially on such a small scale as this, shouldn't pose any harm to people or animals. I remember living on campus at the University of BC in the early 90's, when some similar spray programs were going on over the Point Grey area. It was a bit unsettling hearing the planes flying overhead and knowing they were broadcast spraying, but knowing the science behind Bt helps. Much better than risking the spread of the gypsy moth to BC's orchards, city trees and forests. We've already seen what the mountain pine beetle has done to pine trees in urban and rural areas, and we don't need a repeat scenario with an insect that attacks other species of trees.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

British Columbia Clean Energy Plan

Today the government of the province of British Columbia outlined their Clean Energy Plan.

The news release states that the Province will require zero net greenhouse gas emissions from all new electricity projects and will support the development of clean energy technology.

Many targets were announced relating to clean energy, and the target dates ranged from 2010 to 2020. The highlights that stood out for me include:

Zero greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity generation.
Coal has always been thought of as a dirty energy source, but new technologies will allow coal to be used more efficiently and cleanly.

An ambitious target to acquire 50 per cent of BC Hydro’s incremental resource needs through conservation by 2020.
They had set an earlier target of about 30%, but now it is bumped up to 50%. According to the government document, current per household electricity consumption for BC Hydro customers is about 10,000 Kwh per year. Achieving this conservation target will see electricity use per household decline to approximately 9,000 Kwh per year by 2020.

The new BC Bioenergy Strategy will take advantage of B.C.’s abundant sources of renewable energy, such as beetle-killed timber, wood wastes and agricultural residues.
It is great to see a positive proposal for wood fibre that previously would have gone unused. The wood quality of lodgepole pine killed by mountain pine beetle deteriorates within a few years if it is left standing in the forest (if timber is harvested soon after beetle attack the wood quality is still fine). Beetle wood that is no longer suitable for lumber may still prove useful in bioenergy.

I am not sure how realistic the government's targets are, but it's encouraging to see them presenting some large scale initiatives towards energy conservation and cleaner fuels. Future governments will have to continue addressing these targets, as the bar has now been set.

For more information on the BC Energy Plan visit:

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Beaver seen near New York City

Just read that a beaver was seen swimming up the Bronx River near New York City, the first time a beaver has been seen in the area for about two centuries.

A beaver specialist stated that beaver populations are expanding, but their habitat is shrinking, so it isn't too big a surprise. Most people probably didn't think that this could happen in a heavily developped area and non-pristine river.

The first thing that came to my mind is that you can never count wildlife out, that a species will find a way to persist if at all possible. Efforts have been underway to clean up the Bronx River, and this should give even more incentive. It also made me think of the mountain caribou populations in Southern BC, and how the herds are shrinking. Will they be able to persist like the beaver, and what can be done to help them?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Welcome to the

This blog will be about forestry related issues, mostly in Canada and the US, but these days we know forest practices in one part of the world can affect another.

I live in British Columbia, Canada, and this year we are expecting to see more impacts from mountain pine beetle attack on lodgepole pine stands. I have been working in and around lodgepole pine stands for the past few years and have seen the impacts firsthand.

Mountain pine beetle attack is expected to continue for at least three more years - until 2010 - at which time the majority of lodgepole pine stands in BC are expected to be dead. This will have huge environmental and economic impacts on the province, especially in areas where lodgepole pine stands dominate the landscape, such as the central and northern interior of the province. The summers have been much hotter in recent years, and the dry, dead pine stands are conducive to creating large scale forest fires.