Canfor is completing a shadow analysis to protect their timber rights and verify forest inventory.
On March 16, the Ministry of Forests announced a 26 percent timber harvest cutback over the next ten years. The harvest was cut 12 percent for the next five years and another 16 percent in 2020.
At a Public Advisory Group (PAG) meeting April 2, Canfor planning coordinator Greg Yeomans said the Annual Allowable Cut was good news overall.
“It was not the magnitudes that we were originally expecting,” he said.
In early-2014, Canfor hired Ecora Engineering and Resource Group as a consultant to create a shadow analysis, or a model that captures a sample of the forest and mimics the Ministry inventory.
Yeomans says they did that in order to “analyze the data and constraints to see what the cut would be and to hold the government accountable in that regard.”
Canfor Silviculture Manager Carl vanderMark agreed.
“What we are doing is trying to protect our interests in the timber harvesting land base,” he said.
The last complete government inventory of the Morice timber supply area (TSA) was in the mid-1990s, said Ministry Public Affairs Officer Greg Bethel.
He says the Ministry maintains and updates the forest inventory each year, and started a complete re-inventory in 2014, set to be complete by 2017.
The Canfor shadow analysis based their model on information from high quality forest images from the Ministry of Forests.
Consultant Jay Greenfield, Ecora Resource Analyst, said they analyzed 504 polygons (13,000 hectares) of forest in the Morice timber supply area.
“We’ve gone through a process to get our model as close to the Ministry’s as we can…. Our results are pretty close to what the Ministry has done, but not exact,” Greenfield said.
Their analysis of the timber found 20 percent dead wood overall, which is close to the 22 percent from the Ministry, Greenfield said.
He says their study discovered one key difference from the Ministry inventory.
“Over half of the mortality that we saw, wasn’t even pine. It was spruce and balsam,” said Greenfield.
He says the Ministry inventory overlooks a significant component of spruce and balsam mortality, and it overestimates the mountain pine beetle related mortality.
Yeomans said this explains part of their struggle to meet the 75 percent pine requirement over the past few years.
“We were up against a wall trying to meet the pine partition… [we were] struggling and struggling, and the inventory says there is 29 million cubic metres of pine out there,” Yeomans said.
“This helped us verify and quantify the obstacles we were against.”
Another thing that the Ecora inventory program showed was the diversity in the Morice timber supply.
“There are lots of mixed-species stands on the TSA and even though all the pine or spruce might be dead, there’s a significant component of green timber in these mixed-species stands,” Greenfield said.
Andy Meints, PAG member and owner of Andy Meints Contracting, said that with what they log, there seems to be a lot of dead wood.
“Do you guys really believe that there’s not that much dead out there?” he asked.
Lars Hobenshield, Canfor Planning Supervisor, said part of the dead is inaccessible or in reserve areas.
VanderMark said Canfor has been finding less dead then what is in the inventory.
Yeomans said Canfor sent their findings to the Ministry of Forests and they were factored into the new Annual Allowable Cut (AAC).
Instead of requiring licensees to harvest a certain amount of pine, the new AAC simply limits the amount of live wood, Greenfield said.
The first five years, harvest is at 1.9 million cubic metres per year, but no more then 1.6 million cubic metres can be live wood. The other 300,000 must be dead wood.
“This basically recognizes that there is a sustainable harvest of green timber on the land base and then 300,000 [cubic metres] over and above that can be dead volume,” Greenfield said.
“But if that volume isn’t there, it doesn’t restrict your ability to harvest green volume.
“If we get two years down the road and realize that the dead volume is no longer economically viable… it’s not going to affect the green timber harvest.”
Greenfield says dead pine is expected to be worth harvesting for the next five years.
Projecting into the next 250 years, he says they expect the harvest level to climb again in the long-term.