B.C.’s Interior forestry industry is counting on cutting-edge sawmill technologies to soften the blow of the heavily reduced annual allowable cut anticipated in the wake of the mountain pine beetle infestation.
“The worst-case scenario is that the [annual allowable cut] might drop as much as 30% to 40%,” said Doug Routledge, acting president of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI).
Routledge said the sector hopes to reduce that number to 5% or 10% by harvesting trees in the right order – using affected pine trees first, for example – and reforestation.
But he said that improvement would be impossible if companies hadn’t also invested heavily in technology that allows them to process wood that would have previously been viewed as worthless.
“There really isn’t an aspect of our business in B.C. that we haven’t focused on and either applied a strategy or a technology to utilize the mountain pine-beetle logs,” said Ray Ferris, vice-president of wood products at West Fraser Timber. Ferris said his company has spent between $3 million and $10 million to update the technology at each B.C. sawmill it operates.