B.C. needs to ensure supply of quality timber

Re: “Axe marks divide between two islands,” column, July 10.

Jack Knox’s playfully amusing column about the sport of recreational axe-throwing in Canada’s cities, from Vancouver to Halifax, has a serious edge.

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Knox refers to the declining economic contribution of forestry in Vancouver Island communities. By 2006, this decline was to four per cent in Sooke-Port Renfrew, 14 per cent in Duncan, 21 per cent in Port Alberni, 23 per cent in Campbell River and 32 per cent in Port Hardy.

We must stop doing what is not working, and innovate to conserve and create value. Without a supply of high-quality timber, there is simply no foundation for attracting investment in our timber economy. Several B.C. forest companies now have major mill investments in the U.S. southeast and Pacific Northwest.

A big part of B.C.’s solution will be growing high-quality wood — logs that are straight, round, dense, with tight rings and tight knots on well-managed timberland. Stocking standards in new plantations must be increased to 2,500 trees per hectare from the current density of less than 1,400. This also means extended forest rotations (more than 100 years), with or without commercial thinning.

This new way of managing forests would be beneficial for both timber and non-timber values, including a more rapid transition away from logging the small amount of remaining old growth, less clearcutting, less visual impact, improved habitat for some wildlife, hydrological benefits, increased carbon storage from larger trees and a stronger forest economy.

Ray Travers

Retired professional forester

Victoria

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