Some commentators said they were taken by surprise when Tolko announced last week that it will be closing its Merritt sawmill.
Perhaps they should have attended a workshop given Tuesday of last week in Clearwater on the timber supply review recently carried out for the Kamloops Timber Supply Area.
If they had done so, they would have learned that annual allowable cuts (AAC) throughout much of B.C.’s Interior, including around Merritt, are being drastically reduced following the end of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
The AAC for the Kamloops TSA, for example, has been reduced from 4 million cubic metres per year to just 2.3 million – and it will be further reduced to 2.1 million in five years.
“With the pine beetle gone, we knew we were in for a pretty significant drop,” said Al Card, acting resource manager at the Thompson Rivers District with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
He and Ron Van der Zwan, the district’s stewardship officer, gave the workshop.
Card noted, however, that the AAC before the mountain pine beetle epidemic had been 2.4 to 2.5 million cubic metres, indicating that the decrease was mostly made up of wood that was being salvaged.
Now that the salvaged wood is pretty well all gone, things are more or less returning to where they had been – or somewhat below.
The chief forester sets the AAC for each of the province’s timber supply areas at least every 10 years, said Card.
Doing the timber supply review on which the AAC is based takes about two years.
Factors such as the landbase, growth and yield data, management practices and inventory all go into the model used.
Determining the forest harvest landbase, for example, means taking out such things as parks, private land, tree farm licences, lakes, swamps, alpine areas, inoperable or problem areas, wildlife habitat or corridors, riparian areas and old growth management areas.
A base case forecast is developed using the best available information and assumptions. This is then tested to determine how sensitive it is to variations before it is used to determine actual cut levels.
The timber supply review team spent two days going through the determination with the chief forester and her staff in December of last year.
This led to the announcement about the new AAC last May.
“The annual allowable cut is a professional judgement, not a calculation,” said Ron Van der Zwan.
The determination is for the whole Kamloops TSA, he noted, adding that he cannot say what impact it will have on the North Thompson Valley.
“Where the licensees feel is the place to harvest, that’s where they’ll go,” Van der Zwan said.