Another war in the woods?

In the Prince George Timber Supply Area, the pre-beetle allowable annual cut was 9.3 million cubic metres.

“In the Prince George Timber Supply Area, the pre-beetle allowable annual cut was 9.3 million cubic metres. The current AAC is 12.5 million cubic metres and the mid-term timber supply projection is 6.4 million cubic metres per year. It is possible to increase mid-term timber supply to 9.2 million cubic metres per year by removing the Prince George old growth order. This increase is projected to maintain 1,915 more direct, indirect and induced person years of employment (potentially limit the decline from 13,371 pre-epidemic total jobs to 8,763 total jobs instead of 6,848).  Alternatively, it is possible to increase mid-term timber supply to 8.9 million cubic metres per year without affecting the Prince George old growth order if licensees are able to harvest stands where the minimum volume is 140 m3/ha and access the entire timber harvest land base.”

So states the confidential Mid-Term Timber Supply Report presented to the minister of forests in February.

While dire in its predictions for the timber supply for the Prince George area, and the rest of the Interior, these predictions really aren’t anything new.

When the mountain pine beetle epidemic was raging, cut levels were elevated throughout the Interior in order to salvage as much wood as possible before it became un-merchantable.

Everyone knew that at some point, the cut levels would have to come back down. In addition, a report was published about six years ago that suggested cut levels would have to come down to below pre-beetle infestation levels once the beetle-killed wood could not longer be harvested.

The report issued in February suggests that we’ve got five more years in the Prince George area, but only 18 months in Quesnel.

The question then, is what really have we done to prepare ourselves for the reduction in cut levels? Not much, it seems.

It appears that local politicians are now scrambling to try to keep cut levels elevated. On the block are old growth forests (the ancient forest east of Prince George?), viewscapes, and anything else that can be cut to help keep cut levels elevated. And, it appears the volume-based versus area-based tenures debate will re-surface.

“The analysis indicated that without mitigation, timber supply would decline by 67 per cent in the Lakes TSA, 51 per cent in Quesnel TSA, 32 per cent in Prince George TSA and 32 per cent in Williams Lake TSA compared to pre-beetle timber supply levels. Regionally (all TSAs combined) these reductions would lead to a timber supply that could support about 53 per cent less employment in the area than pre-beetle,” states the report.

The report also outlines several ways in which government can involve communities in a dialogue about what is happening. We’ve known for a decade that this was going to happen, dialogue should have begun long before now. Government’s inaction is likely ignite another War in the Woods … and that won’t help anyone.