Monday, December 8, 2008

BC Company Turns Wood Waste Into BioEnergy

NORMAN LAKE Dec. 5 – Pine Star Logging has started grinding wood waste for Pacific BioEnergy’s wood pellet market after investing $750,000 in a new wood grinding machine, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced today.

“The work Pine Star and Pacific BioEnergy are doing highlights the potential for wood bioenergy in forestry’s future,” said Bell as he toured the Norman Lake site. “The forest sector has an important role to play in advancing B.C.’s green energy advantage, and Pine Star is an excellent example of a smaller, local company finding new ways to obtain more value from our forests.”

“Now that local companies are seeing the advantage of utilizing the wood waste and residue left over at logging sites rather than burning it, we have the opportunity to build a new culture around dealing with forest debris,” said George Stedeford, manager of commercial operations for Pacific BioEnergy. “A reduction in the burning of logging debris will decrease the amount of fine particulate released into the air, creating a better air shed and air quality for Prince George and its surrounding communities.”

When used to generate energy, wood waste is considered carbon-neutral because it releases no more carbon into the atmosphere than it absorbs during its lifetime. As a result, bioenergy can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere if it replaces non-renewable sources of energy.

“This is the beginning of a brand new industry because what was once considered waste now has new value,” said Keith Brandner, manager of Pine Star Logging. “We’ve made this significant investment because we see a future in bioenergy. Plus, the portability of this operation means we can go wherever we need to and harvest what has previously been left behind on the forest floor.”

The hog fuel that Pine Star is creating from grinding wood waste and other logging debris left on logging sites will be used to create wood pellets for Pacific BioEnergy’s overseas fuel markets. Hog fuel is processed through a “hog” – a large mechanical shredder or grinder and consists of pulverized bark, shavings, sawdust, logging residue, low-grade lumber and lumber rejects from the operation of pulp mills, saw mills and plywood plants.

Pacific BioEnergy, a privately held company, has its corporate office in Vancouver and its manufacturing plant in Prince George. The company only sources wood fibre from certified companies that practise sustainable forest management. It has been manufacturing high quality wood pellets since 1994 and exporting overseas to international utilities since 1998.

Supporting the development of new bioenergy opportunities is a key step in the BC Bioenergy Strategy. For more information on the strategy, or to download a copy, visit


contact: Communications
Ministry of Forests and Range
250 387-4592

Province Honours BC's Oldest Living Forester

VICTORIA Nov.27 – Lorne Swanell, the province’s oldest living forester, at 100 years, was honoured today, with the creation of a $1,500 bursary to the University of Northern British Columbia’s Ecological Science and Management program in his name.

Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell, created the bursary to recognize and thank Swanell, who was the province’s chief forester from 1965 to 1972, for his contributions to B.C.’s forest industry.

“The creation of this bursary in Lorne Swanell’s name is a fitting honour for a man whose dedication and commitment to our forest industry is to be commended,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. “We thank Mr. Swanell for his long service to his province and his country.”

“Lorne is a true icon in the forest industry and has advocated for sustainable forest management as far back as 1932 when he worked at the site of the province’s first reforestation project on West Thurlow Island,” said Bell. “This bursary has been created to thank Lorne for his dedication and service to B.C.’s forest industry and to hopefully inspire and encourage upcoming forestry students to follow in Lorne’s large and illustrious footsteps.”

Lorne Swanell was born in Victoria on Sept. 2, 1908. He attended the University of British Columbia and completed a bachelor of arts degree in May 1930 and a bachelor of applied science (forest engineering) with honours in May 1931.

He began his career in Victoria with the Land Branch of the B.C. Forest Service, became a ranger for a year and then started work as a junior forester in Kamloops, which was experiencing a serious mountain pine beetle epidemic. He moved to Prince George in 1939 to become the assistant district forester. From 1939 to 1945, Lorne served in Europe during the Second World War as part of the 2nd Survey Regiment.

Upon his return from the war, Swanell resumed his duties as assistant district forester in Prince George, eventually becoming district forester. While in Prince George, Swanell met and married Grace, his lifelong companion for 55 years until her passing in 2004.

In 1965, he became chief forester of B.C., holding this prominent position until retiring in 1972. His designation as Registered Professional Forester #6 (retired) now makes him the oldest living forester in British Columbia.


contact: Sophia Proctor
Ministry of Forests and Range
250 387-4592

Canadian forestry firms lost more than a half billion dollars in Q3; PwC report

Pricewaterhouse releases report today showing state of Canadian forest companies.


Canadian forestry companies had losses totalling $552 million in the third quarter as the U.S. housing market continued to deteriorate and companies adjusted production in response to weak demand for North American building products.

Montreal-based Domtar was the only company of the six largest public forest firms included in the survey in Eastern Canada to report positive and improved earnings in the most recent quarter.

The $552 million loss for the companies studied in the third quarter included restructuring costs and asset impairment charges of $302 million compared to $14 million reported a year earlier.

Link to full article:


One of the positives for forest companies and exporters is that the Canadian dollar has fallen to around the 80 cent US level in recent weeks, which gives a 25% premium in Canadian dollars for any US sales.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Creston Community Forest news

Here is a recent news release from the government regarding the Creston Community Forest agreement. Creston is a small town located in the southeast part of BC, near the US border, in between the east and west Kootenays.


CRESTON – A community forest agreement sets the foundation for environmentally sustainable, long-term economic benefits for Creston’s residents and businesses, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell announced today.

“Forestry succeeds when all parties share in its success,” said Bell. “Strengthening the link between communities and surrounding forest resources leads to all kinds of benefits, including having a stable source of fibre for local businesses.”

The community forest agreement offers an annual harvest of 15,000 cubic metres over 17,639 hectares of Crown lands north and east of Creston and includes the area around Arrow Creek and its main tributaries. Arrow Creek is a source of Creston’s drinking water and serves local orchards and the Columbia Brewing Company. After the initial five-year probationary term, the agreement can be replaced with a long-term agreement of 25 to 99 years.

“The community forest provides the corporation with a long-term role in our economy and is the direct result of the teamwork and dedication of all involved,” said Creston Mayor Joe Snopek. “It brings extended certainty and security to our water quality, while continuing to support local mills and contractors.”

The agreement was issued to the Creston Valley Forest Corporation, which has directors from the Town of Creston, Regional District of Central Kootenay, the Creston Area Economic Development Commission, and Wildsight. The corporation has used light-touch silviculture and harvesting methods in its operation of a non-replaceable forest licence since 1997, contributing about $1.5 million to Creston’s economy each year.

Community forest agreements are a form of legal tenure that enable communities to more fully participate in the stewardship of local Crown forest resources. They are area-based, and give communities exclusive rights to harvest timber, as well as the opportunity to manage other forest resources such as botanical products, recreation, wildlife, water and scenic viewscapes. There are more than 50 community forests operating or in the planning stages in British Columbia.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Impact of Pine beetles on First Nations way of life

I just read an interesting article in the Nelson Daily News yesterday about the impact the mountain pine beetle is having on the traditional way of living of First Nations in BC.

The impacts to forests, culturally modified trees, wildlife patterns, archeological sites, hunting, and vegetation are significant to First Nations traditional use of the land.

The safety of more than 100 bands is threatened by fire because the dry, red trees surround their communities, aboriginal leaders say.

Animals that natives have hunted for generations no longer take the same paths and berries and medicinal herbs don't grow where they once did beneath the thousands upon thousands of hectares of dead pine forest.

Chief Leonard Thomas of the Nak'azdli Band, near Fort St. James in north-central B.C., is also worried about retaining jobs and keeping communities together once the infested trees are removed.

"It is a huge cultural impact on First Nations people, simply because now we have to hunt a little harder to try and get the animals we used to sustain ourselves," Thomas said.

"A lot of these patterns are going to change because of the mountain pine beetle."

Some bands have their own logging firms and have already cleared the dead trees and brush from around their reserves homes and buildings.

But most have only just begun making fire protection plans.

Thomas said many communities don't have the equipment or the manpower to do the work that will protect communities and their only plan is to evacuate if a fire draws near.

"The pine beetle is the deadliest threat right now," he said.

Link to full article:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Forest Fire Season again in BC

Lately we've seen all the wildfires in California, and some in other parts of Canada. There have already been more fires in BC this year than most people probably realize (379), and most of these were caused by people.

Nelson BC had an incredible thunderstorm on Sunday night that had many loud lightning strikes. Luckily, there was about a half hour of rain that followed the storm. It doesn't seem like it's taken long for the outdoors to dry out, we've gone from cool, rainy periods in late spring to 30+ degree weather at the end of June. And the next two weeks look to have weather in the high 20s and low 30s.

Here is a recent news release from the Ministry of Forests on campfire safety, which is a good read for anyone taking their holidays this summer in the woods.


June 26, 2008
Ministry of Forests and Range


VICTORIA – Although British Columbia has experienced cooler than average temperatures so far this year, the potential for fire starts still exists due to low amounts of rainfall this spring, said Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell today.

“During the long weekend and throughout the year, I encourage the public to practise campfire safety,” Bell said. “Remember that once you start a campfire, you are legally responsible for making sure it doesn’t escape and is completely out before you leave.”

Since April, provincial forest firefighters have responded to 101 abandoned campfires, 28 of which caused a forest fire. To date, abandoned campfires have burned over 70 hectares of forests, and have cost the Province nearly $160,000 in direct firefighting costs.

Fire crews have responded to 379 fires provincially since April 1, nearly 85 per cent of which were caused by people.

Although the 2008 fire season has had a slow start due to the cold spring, some regions are already experiencing very dry forest fuel conditions due to low precipitation. Fine fuels including grass are drying, raising fire risks especially when people underestimate conditions.

Practise campfire safety by never leaving your fire unattended. Use an existing fire pit, or build a proper one by placing a ring of rocks around the fire to prevent escape. Individuals are reminded to have water and hand tools close by, and to saturate the fire with water until it is completely cold to the touch before leaving.

For the latest information on fire bans, fire danger ratings and weather information, visit the Protection program website:

Please report all grass and forest fires to 1-800-663-5555, or *5555 on the cellular network.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What to do with pine on your property?

A reader submitted the following question to me by email:

Hello - we own a cabin in the Kootenays with lots of old pine trees not yet affected by the pine beetle. Should we take some of these down now and sell them? We assume the costs will be very high to have them removed once they are devasted by the beetle. Also do you happen to know if the BC govt. (or Canadian govt) is covering any of the costs for removal costs of these dead trees? Thank you for any comments / suggestions. - DT

There isn't one easy answer to this, but here are some points to consider that will help you make a decision.

1. How many pine trees are there and what kind are they? Lodgepole pine and White pine are readily attacked by the mountain pine beetle. Ponderosa pine are less susceptible to MPB, but still may be attacked; and there is another type of bark beetle that attacks ponderosa pine. Are there 10 trees or 100 trees? The more trees you have the more likely you can find a company to buy them for lumber, especially if they are easy to access. If there are fewer trees, you might be better off to use them for firewood, or to find a small outfit that can mill them for you if you want to use the wood yourself (could make for an interesting story, to use wood from your own property to build something). It will be cheaper for an outfit to come and deal with the trees in one shot, rather than multiple trips (e.g.: removing some this year, then again next year).

2. The cost to remove dead pine shouldn't be different than live pine, especially if they are removed soon after the beetle hits. Pine that are hit by beetle in summer 2008 will stay green until summer 2009, when the crown will start to turn red. After the beetle attacks a blue stain appears on the wood, and right now most mills don't want the blue stain wood, they prefer live pine wood that hasn't been attacked (and is more of a yellow/white color). So you would get a lower price for wood, or even have trouble selling, if you sell it after the beetle attacks (though markets could still change). The exception is that some artisans like the blue wood for their specialty products, there is a good article about this in the latest BC Business magazine.

3. As far as I know, there is no government aid to remove pine trees from private property. But it is worth looking into before you make a final decision. Right now Kamloops is in the middle of some heavy attack by pine beetle, so it might be worth contacting an official in Kamloops to see what they are doing for the public. If there is no assistance now, it could be worth waiting because the government may come up with some sort of program to help, but there is no guarantee of this.

4. If the trees add value to your property now, through qualities like shading and aesthetics, and you would keep them if there was no threat of beetle, then I would not remove them yet. Although the main wave of mountain pine beetle hasn't hit the Kootenays yet, I've read that 80 to 90% of all pine will be killed by the time the beetle has run its course. So there is a chance (however small) that your trees may not get attacked. But it's good to have a plan ready, ask around for a good tree removal or tree falling company that can handle the whole job for you. Find some leads on who might want to buy the wood, if you want to sell any. The beetles are starting to fly now, so have an experienced person check the trees in mid-July, and again after summer, to see if there has been any attack (you can do it yourself if you know what to look for - pitch holes). Luckily, it's easy to see the pitch holes in the trees after a beetle attack - they look like popcorn pieces made of tree resin. It's possible that some trees could get hit, and others not, in the same year. If you decide to remove some or all of the trees, it can likely be done in September or October. You don't want dead trees on your property, especially if they could fall and hit a person or a structure. If you have any non-pine trees on your property, you'll have to assess whether to keep those or not if you remove the pine. For example, will removing the pine make the other trees more susceptible to blow down?

I hope this has helped, the key will be to contact somebody in your area who has experience dealing with the beetle and tree removal.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Omineca Beetle Action Coalition receives funding

From news release of June 4.

The Province of BC is providing the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition with $870,000 to continue planning that will sustain mountain pine beetle-impacted communities into the future, Forests and Range Minister Rich Coleman announced today.

“The Omineca Beetle Action Coalition has made good progress identifying new ways to diversify and help stabilize beetle-impacted communities,” said Coleman. “The mining and alternative energy strategies recently completed by OBAC are prime examples of the excellent work the coalition is doing for the Omineca region.”

“The Province is investing in communities in a way that reflects local aspirations and economic prospects that will grow over time,” said Prince George North MLA Pat Bell. “The work being led by OBAC will help accelerate the development of other resource sectors such as agriculture, oil, gas, mining, tourism and recreation.”

OBAC has now received $2.57 million from the Province since September 2005 to plan for the future stability and diversification of affected communities such as Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, Granisle, Houston, Mackenzie, McBride, Prince George, Smithers, Telkwa, Valemount, Vanderhoof and the regional districts of Bulkley-Nechako and Fraser-Fort George.

Link to news release:

Annual allowable cut decreased in Kamloops TSA

News release from the BC Ministry of Forests and Range (May 28). I think this is a good example of the effects the mountain pine beetle and fire are having on BC interior forests, in general.


VICTORIA – The allowable annual cut for the Kamloops timber supply area will be decreased by about eight per cent to four million cubic metres, chief forester Jim Snetsinger announced today.

The previous allowable annual cut (AAC) was 4.35 million cubic metres. Roughly 1.67 million cubic metres of that AAC was from temporary increases introduced in 2004 to help manage the mountain pine beetle and to salvage fire-damaged timber. The beetle has attacked a cumulative total of about 30 million cubic metres of lodgepole pine in the Kamloops timber supply area.

“Since the last AAC determination, most of the fire-damaged timber in the Kamloops timber supply area has now been harvested,” said Snetsinger. “The new AAC has provisions in place that will continue to focus harvesting in beetle-damaged stands while protecting non-pine timber for the future.”

The new allowable annual cut includes:

· 1.994 million cubic metres per year concentrated on harvesting pine, to help manage the beetle’s spread and support the salvage of attacked trees while they’re still merchantable.

· 200,000 cubic metres per year for harvesting in older cedar and hemlock-leading stands.

· 86,000 cubic metres per year for harvesting in pulpwood agreement area 16.

· 20,000 cubic metres per year for harvesting deciduous-leading stands outside pulpwood agreement area 16 in the Headwaters Forest District.

· A maximum of 1.7 million cubic metres per year for harvesting non-pine outside of the cedar and hemlock, pulpwood agreement, and deciduous partitions. This will be mostly Douglas-fir, spruce and balsam, giving licensees the flexibility to address customer demands. The maximum limit helps protect environmental sustainability and sufficient levels of non-pine stock for mid to long-term needs.

The Kamloops timber supply area covers approximately 2.77 million hectares in south central B.C. Administered by the Headwaters and Kamloops forest districts, it spans several communities, including Ashcroft, Barriere, Chase, Clearwater, Kamloops, Logan Lake, and Vavenby.

Link to news release:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Prescribed Fire - coming to an area near you?

Springtime is finally here, and along with the fall, it's one of the times of the year when burning can be more safely used as a forest management tool. If you live in or drive through rural areas, you may see smoke on the hillsides, or smell it in the air.

One of the reasons prescribed burns are done in BC is to reduce logging slash levels after harvesting so that areas may be more easily planted. Sometimes you get more natural regeneration after fires, especially with pine species, which is an added benefit. Some plant species also regenerate well after fire, such as huckleberry shrubs. Burning the slash in the spring or fall, when conditions are moister and safer, also reduces the risk of a summer wildfire for the area (because you've reduced the fuel load on the site).

Another reason these burns are sometimes prescribed is to reduce the amount of woody debris and forest fuels within standing forests. Some southern, drier areas of the Province where large Ponderossa Pine or Douglas Fir grow can benefit from the elimination of understory fuels in the spring or fall, to reduce the chance of a more destructive wildfire in the summer (that may cause the larger trees to burn up).

One thing I personally believe, is that we haven't seen the worst of the wildfires that will result from all of the dead mountain-pine beetle killed forests in BC. There have been some big fires in recent years, such as near Princeton, but in my opinion we've been lucky so far. There are currently vast areas of dead forests in BC, and the early predictions I've heard are calling for another hot, dry summer. Any fuels that can be reduced through prescribed burns, especially near population centers, will be a benefit.

Here is a fact sheet on prescribed burning that was attached to a Ministry of Forests news release out of Cranbrook (see link below). It will give you an idea of why prescribed burns are done, especially if one is occurring near you.


• Fire is a normal, natural process in many of British Columbia’s ecosystems. Many species of birds, insects, plants and animals depend on fire for its regenerative properties.

• Fires help control insects and diseases in forests, and lead to forest succession (younger forests replacing older forests) to create a patchwork of forest ages, which supports biodiversity.

• Prescribed fire is one of the tools used by forest professionals to achieve certain objectives for land management. For example, using fire is appropriate for habitat enhancement, to improve forage for cattle, deer, elk and moose, and to reduce fuel loads for interface fire risk reduction.

• Prescribed fires are carefully planned so that their intensity and size meets the land management objectives contained in the Kootenay Boundary Land Use Plan in the section for fire maintained ecosystems.

• All prescribed fires must comply with the Environmental Management Act’s Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation, which is in place to minimize the amount of smoke created. For example, burns may only be ignited on days when the venting index indicates smoke will not be trapped close to the ground. The regulation also requires the open flames to be out in 96 hours.

• Prescribed fires are ignited weather permitting to ensure the fire does not create excessive smoke, and to help ensure the fire does not get out of control. Elements important in determining the date of a burn include the venting index, temperature, humidity and forecast winds.

• Prescribed fires are ignited and continuously monitored and attended by trained crews. The Burn Boss responsible for making sure prescribed conditions will be met on ignition and to ensure the fire is extinguished to reduce unnecessary smouldering and to ensure it doesn’t reignite.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hard times in BC Forestry

Global TV did a segment on tough times in the BC forest industry last night. Analysts are saying these are some of the toughest times in two decades for forestry. Some of the contributing factors are:

- high Canadian dollar vs US dollar

- low lumber prices

- US lumber agreement kicking in 15% duty

- slumping US housing construction

- high fuel prices

It almost seems like everything that goes against the forest industry is happening at the same time, with no positives. Many mills in the province are facing shutdowns or aren't operating. For example, six out of eight mills in Mackenzie aren't in operation right now.

Also consider, two years ago lumber prices were around $400 US, and the Canadian dollar was worth about 80 cents US. Today, lumber prices are around $210 US, and the Canadian dollar is just over par. I can't think of any other industry that has been hit so hard in the price of it's product.

Analysts expect the downturn to last at least a year, but it's hard to say how long lumber prices will stay low, and when the US housing market will turn.

If the industry does turn around, it also might have a harder time finding workers.

A new report out today warns of Canada's aging workforce.

The workforce in Canada is aging significantly, prompting concern from analysts about the impending threat of labour shortages across the country.

For the first time ever, there are just as many workers in Canada over 40 as there are under 40.

The 2006 Census findings, released Tuesday by Statistics Canada, show 15.3 per cent of Canadian workers are 55 or older and nearing retirement.

link to article:

A final factor to consider is that we are in the midst of a pine beetle outbreak that will kill most of BC's lodgepole pine within the next few years. If lumber prices stay low and mills shut down, then a lot of the pine that is dead or dying will remain in the woods and will be lost to fire or rot. It's a shame, because this pine could have provided jobs and wood products, and the logged areas would have been managed to ensure new forests were established.


Friday, February 22, 2008

BC government Budget 2008

On February 19th the BC government released it's budget, with some new measures aimed at the environment. Excerpts from the budget news release, titled Greener Future, Stronger Economy include:

To help reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2020, Balanced Budget 2008 includes a revenue-neutral carbon tax, provides $440 million for a one-time Climate Action Dividend, and over $1 billion for a broad range of climate action programs and tax incentives.

Effective July 1, 2008, subject to approval by the legislature, British Columbia will introduce a fully revenue-neutral carbon tax with built in protection for lower income British Columbians. The tax will begin at a low rate and increase gradually to give individuals and businesses time to adjust. It will apply to virtually all fossil fuels, including gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal, propane, and home heating fuel – making it among the broadest and most comprehensive in the world.

“The principle is simple,” said Taylor. “Tax carbon‑emitting fuels to discourage their use, and give the money back to people, back to businesses, so they have control. They can make their own choices about how the tax affects them. At the same time, by making greener choices more commercially viable, it will stimulate innovation and open up new economic opportunities across British Columbia.”

The carbon tax is forecast to generate approximately $1,849 million over three years.

This revenue will be returned to businesses and individuals through a new Climate Action Credit for persons with lower incomes ($395 million) and reductions to personal income tax rates ($784 million), the small business income tax rate ($255 million), and the general corporate income tax rate ($415 million).

In addition to the revenue-neutral tax reductions, every British Columbia resident will receive a one-time, $100 Climate Action Dividend to help people adopt greener lifestyles. At a total cost of $440 million, the dividend payments will be issued in June, before the new carbon tax takes effect. It is the government’s hope that British Columbians will apply the funds toward purchases that can help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and, by doing so, the amount of carbon tax they would otherwise pay.

The budget also provides, over four years, more than $1 billion to encourage energy efficiency, implement new regulatory requirements, undertake cutting-edge research and make low-carbon investments. These climate action initiatives include: new funding for home energy audits and retrofits; sales tax exemptions for ENERGY STAR appliances; up to $2,000 in reduced sales tax on the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles; a new biodiesel production incentive; an expanded venture capital program aimed at clean technology companies; and funding to reduce emissions at B.C.’s ports and commercial truck stops.

“While the economic forecast sees British Columbia continuing to outperform Canada and the U.S., weakening conditions south of the border and international uncertainty show how important it is to maintain a prudent approach,” said Taylor. “It’s also a reminder that we must always explore new ways to make B.C.’s economy more competitive, innovative, and diverse.”

Link to BC Budget 2008:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pine beetle run it's course?

Heard on the local radio today...

The forest health specialist for Kootenay Lake MoF stated that the mountain pine beetle might reach the end of it's food source in the West Kootenays within the next year or two.

Lodgepole pine is the main species attacked by the beetle, and it forms about one quarter of the forest inventory in this area. Temperature conditions required to kill the beetle over the winter have not been reached (-30 degrees C or colder for 2 to 3 weeks). The West Kootenays are fortunate to have a diverse mixture of tree species (often called a 'Kootenay mix') because no single pest could wipe out the entire forest area. There are other areas of BC that have up to 90% pine forests.

Conditions this year are expected to be suitable for the pine beetle to infect the remainder of available pine in the West Kootenay area.

What does this mean?

The pine beetle will eventually move on in search of new, live pine forests in other areas. We'll be left with the challenge of dealing with the dead pine. Where it's mixed in with other live tree species, you might not notice a change. Areas that have closer to pure pine stands (and don't get harvested) will be a source of fuel for wildfire, or possibly create soil erosion and water quality issues, since the forest cover isn't there anymore to intercept and take up rainfall.

For one, it will be interesting to see what happens in the mountains above the city of Nelson. All the red areas you could see up there last year will be turning grey this summer, the final stage of tree mortality from beetle kill.

Forestry woes in China

Canada isn't the only country in the world suffering from problems in the forest industry.

The past winter's storms in China that you probably saw on tv have cost their forestry sector 57.3 billion yuan ($8.01 billion) in losses.

The worst winter in five decades in some areas damaged 20.86 million hectares of forests, one tenth of the total, setting back efforts to meet a national 20-percent forest coverage target by 2020, according to the administration.

Link to article:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mining exploration in Ontario forests

Article in the Feb 13 Toronto Star - Mining threatens northern forests, activists say

The price for many metals has been going up for a few years, which has increased exploration in Canada for mineral properties. Now, some groups are concerned about the impact of this exploration on forests.

The inside joke in forestry has always been that if you are a forest company, you are held to very high standards in regards to your impact on the environment, and that all logged areas must be reforested. But with mining, you can build roads and explore and not be held to the same standards. I don't know how true this is, but that is the thought out there.

From what I've read, environmental groups seem to be focusing less on forest companies these days, and more on oil and metals exploration and production. In a way this makes sense. If you were in one of these groups, would you chase the company who cuts down a forest and makes sure it's stocked with trees again through planting and natural regeneration, or the company that digs a big hole in the ground?

Highlights of the article include:

The group ForestEthics said it's concerned that the opening in a few weeks of the province's first diamond mine, De Beers Canada's Victor mine, will open the floodgates to overdevelopment in the north and threaten the environment.

An average of almost 400 mining claims have been staked in each of the last four months in the northern boreal forest, and Gillian McEachern of ForestEthics said she's concerned it's just the start of a growing trend of prospectors running rampant in search of precious metals and minerals.

Michael Gravelle, the minister of northern development and mines, said so many claims are being staked across the province because the mineral sector is currently booming. He said it represents a great opportunity for the province, but added the government is ensuring environmental and community interests are addressed. Gravelle said the claim-staking process has a very small effect on the environment and only grants companies temporary use of Crown land.

Link to article: