May 6, 2016
Volume 16, Issue 8
Warning: Some of the figures contained in this edition may be facts.
Forests Minister Brings Silviculture Service Providers into Compensation Fund
MFLNRO Minster Steve Thomson announced today the addition of $1-million to the Forestry Service Providers Compensation Fund, including a $500,000 sub-account intended to provide relief to silviculture service providers who may go unpaid by license holders. The fund established in 2013, and now totaling around $7-million in public funds, had previously excluded silviculture service providers, insuring only logging and road-building contractors. The Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association had lobbied the Minister, arguing that the silviculture sector suffered the same exposure to potential losses as the rest of the harvest sector. Minister Thomson made the announcement at the Interior Loggers’ Association (ILA) annual conference in Vernon. Both the ILA and the WSCA thanked the Minister for his support and ongoing commitment to forestry contractors. The WSCA will now work with the Forest Tenures Branch on the details and the timely implementation of the scheme.
Early Spring: The New Normal? So Far, So Good Says Forest Practices Branch
A spring of record-breaking temperatures across the West. Forecasts of continuing drought across British Columbia. Planters working blocks in the East Kootenay above 1500 meters elevation in April. Disastrous conflagrations dominating the news well before the historical wildfire season is supposed to begin. Despite these portents and prodigies, things planting-wise are going OK according to the MFLNRO Forest Practices Branch. This being the second consecutive year of unusually dry, hot spring weather, the Branch says there is no evidence reported, so far, that last year’s seedlings suffered unduly due to heat and drought conditions. Contractors, meanwhile, are saying optimal conditions for planting are passing quickly on many blocks already in the Interior. The ground is hardening up and planters have to cope with unusual heat as well. In some cases where blocks are open, the shaded roads aren’t—still blocked by last winter’s scant snow. This is the inverse of the situation a few years back where colder spring weather delayed the spring season and the Branch announced extensions to the planting deadline of June 21. There doesn’t appear to be a move to shorten the spring planting time frame to ensure trees are planted within the current shifting biological windows. That would bring a certain amount of logistical and contractual upheaval. But this being early May it is way too soon to tell how 2016 will turn out. Meanwhile, these interesting times continue.
Beehive-Burning Without The Beehive?
Bioenergy 2.0, a recently-formed association of bio-energy producers and strategists, can’t help but notice that each year we burn between 500 million to 800 million bone dry tons of piled logging slash. And this is only part of the unutilized biomass that could be used to create provincial prosperity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions they say. As an example, with existing technologies the piled logging slash now burnt each fall, could be distilled into renewable diesel fuel and dropped into the current B.C. diesel fleet, meeting its annual provincial transportation demand of around 2 billion liters. Likewise, the province could follow the example of Austria (AAC 22-million cubic meters), and some Scandinavian countries, by using biomass to heat communities and homes. In the Bioenergy 2.0 view it is only a matter of time before we adopt a stronger conservation ethic like the Europeans, phase out profligate slash pile burning, and put this wood fiber to more creative use.