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.

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