New plan means uncertainty: logging companies

  • Dec. 19, 2007 5:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Forestry companies on the islands face two levels of uncertainty now that the Strategic Land Use Agreement has been signed, says Western Forest Products chief operating officer Duncan Kerr. Although there will no immediate impact, Mr. Kerr said WFP does not know what the level of cut for the entire islands will be, nor how the level of cut in their tenure – TFL 39 – will change in the future. The agreement signed by the province and the Haida Nation Dec. 12, recommends adding approximately 254,000 hectares of land to existing protected areas and changing the management regime for the operational land. Mr. Kerr says that because the ecosystem based management objectives are not defined, his company does not have a clear view of the harvest options. He said the province and the Haida have given themselves a two-year window in which to define these objectives more clearly. “Then we will have to look at each valley on a case by case basis,” he says. The company will seek compensation for any impact on its timber supply but has no way of knowing what the dollar figure would be. He expects the new management regime will also cost the company more and this will be taken into account in any compensation sought. Western Forest Products said Dec. 13 that logs harvested from the islands are sent to mills on Vancouver Island. Reductions in log supply may affect these holdings as well. The company currently has a cut level of 510,000 cubic metres, representing 7-percent of the company’s harvest from crown lands in all their timber licenses. The company used to have an 800,000 cubic metre allowable annual cut. The new agreement calls for a total harvest level of 800,000 from all licensees on the islands. That said, Mr. Kerr says he still believes in the economic potential of the high-value timber on the islands and that the parties will have to work cooperatively to ensure the transition to the new objectives occurs in an orderly manner. He says he is interested in working with the Council of the Haida Nation and the community in moving forward. In September, Teal Jones forester Brian Fraser warned that Sandspit would cease to be the operational headquarters for the company if the Land Use Agreement was signed. He said then that Teal Jones would not have enough volume to support a stand alone forestry operation and that the company would have to merge with another to continue operating. When reached on Dec. 14, Mr. Fraser told the Observer that he hadn’t heard anything from either the province or Husby that would change that analysis. The Observer did not reach Husby Forest Products for comments by its deadline.

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