HaiCo pays $11.6-million for TFL 60

  • Oct. 18, 2011 1:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–After two years of negotiations, the Haida finally own Tree Farm License 60. The forest tenure covers 136,000 hectares on Graham, Moresby and Louise Islands and will be managed by Taan Forest, a subsidiary of Haida Enterprise Corporation (HaiCo). The license was purchased from Western Forest Products on Oct. 11 for $11.6 million. Taan Forest president Bob Brash says the company has been operating as if the TFL were theirs for some time, but now that it’s a done deal, the company can really move forward. “Now we can move towards the things we want to do on our business plan,” he said. He says that making capital investments in equipment, developing contracts with interested markets and securing financing were challenging without that long-term tenure. Islanders will begin to see incremental change as the company now works to get up to full harvest levels over the next few years. “With a long term annual harvest of over 500,000 cubic metres, we can now leverage some of the world’s best tree growing lands and renowned wood products into more local businesses and value-added forest products,” he said in a news release. When the Observer spoke with him by telephone, he said it will take a few years for the company to reach the peak of that cut. As well, they are looking at value-added products, such as a custom wood cutting program for high-end lumber. “We’re doing our homework to start that program over the next few months,” he said. The goal is to deliver locally as much as possible and then reach out further south. He said Taan is also in discussions with Old Massett and Skidegate about on-island manufacturing ventures they are considering. Mr. Brash says the combination of the Haida Gwaii brand and the forest certification the company is seeking puts a good message into the marketplace. “We have a pretty good story compared with some of the other ones out there,” he said. For example, Taan Forest has been on the leading edge of sustainable harvesting and forestry practices with its new approaches that meet the stringent objectives of the Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement. According to a statement released by WFP, “as the average annual timber harvested off TFL 60 by Western over the past five years has been modest, the sales will have no impact on our long term operating rates at our eight lumber mills.” Chairman and CEO Dominic Gammiero goes on to say that the “proceeds from the sale will further strengthen our balance sheet and provide us with additional flexibility to pursue strategic initiatives.” As part of the deal, WFP retains certain ongoing rights to cedar logs harvested by Taan.