Beetle-killed pine trees across the B.C. Interior will start to become uneconomical to log in the next two to five years, resulting a steep drop in timber supply and employment, according to a technical report prepared for the forests ministry.

Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson found a confidential draft version of the report that was mistakenly made public on the ministry’s website. It estimates that without opening up protected areas and harvesting lower-volume stands, as many as half of the forest industry jobs in the Cariboo and northern region will disappear.

The draft report reviews the sharp increase in the annual allowable cut in the affected region, and the “drastic” decline that would occur without changes. The Lakes timber supply area around Burns Lake would see a 67% drop, and the Quesnel area would see its allowable cut reduced by 51%. The beetle impact is less in the Prince George and Williams Lake areas, which would drop 32% without changing rules.

In the legislature last week, Simpson called on the government to announce what changes it will make to ease the impact of the timber supply loss. “In those technical appraisals it points out that in my area, in Quesnel, we have one and a half years of commercial timber left, and we may see 1,600 jobs lost if mitigation measures are not taken,” Simpson said. “But those mitigation measures are highly controversial and will completely change the face of forestry in this province, and yet the same report isn’t sure if this government wants to consult.”

From Houston Today: http://www.houston-today.com/news/147961885.html