A call for change was the message at the Council of Forest Industries convention Thursday morning in Prince George. The relationship between sawmill operations and the newest addition to forestry: bioenergy, was the focus of a morning panel at the convention.
Everyone agrees, there will be a reduction in the Annual Allowable Cut is on the horizon now that the Mountain Pine Beetle wood has been harvested. BC will eventually have to cut between two and three million cubic metres of supply.
Consultant Murray Hall believe regions will feel the brunt more than others. “The one region of the province where it’s acknowledged that there needs to be some way to reduce consumption of saw logs is the Cariboo region,” says Hall. “In Prince George here, it could be done with operating rates, where they slow down somewhat or another mill could shut down. But we’re predicting that mills will slow down.”
Another prevalent theme to today’s presentations was around the relationship between the primary producers, like the saw mills, and the secondary producers, like the bio-energy sector. Acknowledging the two industries will require a change in mindset. “So there’s a strength to that perception in that the real global strength to the industry in BC is that we have a very, very robust saw, timber industry and then we built the secondary users, the pulp mills, the pellet mills, around the fibre that’s left over”, says BC Chief Forester, Dave Peterson. “So we don’t want to lose that strength, but we do want to recognize that our opportunity is more than just saw logs.”
Peterson says there will be policy changes in the offing to address some of the changes in the landscape, especially with the government’s mandate to find ways to “enhance security of fibre supply for secondary and non-lumber users.”