Legislative Session: Fourth Session, 39th Parliament
Special Committee on Timber Supply
This is a DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY of debate in one sitting of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. This transcript is subject to corrections, and will be replaced by the final, official Hansard report. Use of this transcript, other than in the legislative precinct, is not protected by parliamentary privilege, and public attribution of any of the debate as transcribed here could entail legal liability.
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2012
The committee met at 8:05 a.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our continuing meetings on the Special Committee on Timber Supply. Today we are here to look at a variety of options that we can consider to help to mitigate the issues that have arisen from the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
We have a lot of people in the room, and I just want to start off today with some introductions. So I'm going to start off with the members of the committee, starting with Eric on my right.
E. Foster: Eric Foster. I'm the MLA for Vernon-Monashee.
D. Barnett: Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.
B. Stewart: Ben Stewart, MLA for Westside-Kelowna.
J. Rustad (Chair): John Rustad. I'm the MLA for Nechako Lakes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Norm Macdonald, the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke.
H. Bains: Harry Bains, MLA, Surrey-Newton.
B. Routley: Bill Routley, MLA, Cowichan Valley.
J. Rustad (Chair): With us today as well is Kate Ryan-Lloyd, who is our Deputy Clerk and Clerk of Committees. We have a number of people that are here today presenting. I'm not going to try to get everybody's names. I will actually turn it over to Susanna to perhaps introduce the crew that is here with you today presenting.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Good morning, Mr. Chair. It's my pleasure. Kevin Kriese is going to lead the conversation today and walk you through their presentation. He's going to talk a little bit about how, probably, we can accomplish going through that quite substantial amount of information we have on this day.
Then when we start the more detailed discussion around these various options, we have a number of staff here who can support the discussion on those. There is our chief forester, Dave Peterson. We have Albert Nussbaum, who is the director of forest analysis and inventory branch. We have Atmo Prasad, who is the manager of the forest analysis section. We also have staff person Doug Stewart, who is the director of forest tenures branch, and Gerry MacDougall, who is the regional executive director, Cariboo region.
I think we have two more staff members who will come: Peter Jacobsen, who is the director of business and compensation branch; and Grant Loeb, who is the manager of the pricing section, just in case we have many questions that might lead to pricing and other issues. We want to be able to fully support the committee.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you very much. We also have Larry Pedersen here, who is one of our special advisers, and on the phone we have Jim Snetsinger, who is calling in from Prince George, who unfortunately had some flight challenges this morning and wasn't able to join us.
I think that has got everybody. With that, if everybody is ready, this is a rather extensive presentation and information that we'll be going through today. I will turn it over to Kevin to start off the presentation.
Briefings: Ministry of Forests, Lands and
Natural Resource Operations
K. Kriese: Thank you, and hello to those I haven't met. I guess we have a couple other of our ministry staff also joining us. Allan Lidstone is the director of our planning branch, and Tom is the ADM of resource stewardship.
I guess that's actually a good intro, because this is a team. I'm the point person, so just in terms of what I can bring to the presentation, I'm the assistant deputy minister for northern B.C. I've got the area from Smithers over to the northeast, so I can talk with some local knowledge about what goes on in those management units. Of course, Gerry is here, a lot more familiar with the southern area.
We also, as Susanna mentioned, have a pretty big team. If I have a brain moment and I can't answer, we'll be drawing in everybody, but I'll try and knit it together for you.
This first slide of the presentation is just to remind us that this is back to where the forests are. There's actually a photo of a mountain pine beetle landscape with lots of grey trees between Prince George and Mackenzie.
In terms of the way we structured the presentation, what we thought we'd do is there's a fair bit of background that really tries to make sure we're all on the same page with respect to what is a little bit of history, the current status, the impact on communities, the impact on the industry.
The background section we propose would probably run through with a lot of detail to make sure we're really comfortable with where we are before we start to look at the options. The way you understand where you are helps you define which of the options are relevant and sort of where they make sense. A suggestion that I discussed with John was to have lots of dialogue and engagement around the background section.
Then when you get into the options, what we've done is identified the top five suite of options that really represent…. From a timber supply perspective we call it the levers that you can pull. You can pull these in different ways in different management units, but to go over them sort of generically and say: these are the kinds of things that can be looked at to increase the timber supply and mitigate the impacts.
We would propose that we then quickly walk through it so you get a flavour of what all those five are and then go back to them individually and have a much more detailed conversation around each of them in that order. Sometimes until you know that that fourth one is going to come later, you might want to talk about it in the first one.
So our proposal is a fair bit of time on background, lots of discussion, and then we'll try and run through it very quickly and then go back to each of them individually.
In terms of what we are presenting, with respect to timber supply, there are bazillions of options, and every option plays itself out differently in each area. What we've tried to present to you are those that have been discussed actively and those that are the most likely ones to be feasible.
There are probably other options that we haven't identified, and they haven't been identified because either they don't have a lot of potential gain or they just haven't been actively a part of the conversation. These are the ones that have been the most commonly described as the ones that have the potential to really help address these issues at play.
One thing I want to emphasize is that the work that was done with respect to Burns Lake and the Babine situation is very similar to this with a couple of specific differences. First off, there are a couple of options here that weren't specifically identified for the Babine situation, so there are a couple of additional options. Because you're in bigger area, there are other options that are relevant inside the bigger area that weren't as relevant to the Babine situation.
Secondly, in the Babine situation we weren't looking at just increasing timber supply but also at options to try and secure the timber supply and basically provide some certainty to the operators there. There was a second lens attached to the work that was happening with respect to Babine which isn't part of this process here. We aren't presenting those. We're really focusing on those options here around increasing the overall pool of timber supply.
In terms of the presentation, then, maybe where we'll start is into the background. This is something that you've seen in various iterations before, but it really tries to get back to that idea that there are some areas where the impact of the pine beetle is more advanced, it's more severe, and therefore, the impact on the communities is either happening faster or is more significant. That's the colour-coded map.
It really describes the heartland of the mountain pine beetle infestation in terms of its impact on timber supply and on communities. That's the Lakes, the Vanderhoof part of Prince George timber supply area and then the Quesnel timber supply area, followed by the Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.
Behind that is the third tier, which are the Morice, Fort St. James and Prince George districts and Mackenzie and then other parts of the province up in the northeast, the Bulkley and down into the south, where there are impacts to timber supply but because of the composition of the forest, they're not as significant.
A lot of our analysis that we're going to present has really been focused on those red blobs, because those are the areas where the impact is biggest. A lot of our analysis we're going to present will sort of focus on the very specific results in those areas. But some of them are also relevant in some of these other management units. We just haven't done the homework as much. Part of the discussion will be: how relevant are some of these scenarios as you roll them out into other parts of the province?
The next slide. This is a really complicated one. There is a story behind this which is really trying to present a discussion I believe the committee had over the last few weeks. John asked that we prepare something that really tries to tell this story.
The black line down the middle describes what you'll call the provincial scenario. If you roll up all of these mountain pine beetle–affected management units and you try and describe on one side what the proportion of the pine is that's been killed…. Across the other side is when it was killed, and 2010 is essentially our base point. You'll see that black line climbs up to around 60 percent. Today we're at 55 percent. So in that scenario, we're still seeing pine die across the province. We're not done. Through the beetle, the pine is not entirely dead yet. The epidemic is still running itself out.
You'll also see that on a provincewide basis, when you roll all these management units up, you end up at around 60 percent of the pine that ends up dead. In some senses, this is not as bad as some of the predictions that were made three, five, seven years ago, where we were predicting higher amounts of pine beetle kill. So there's a good-news story behind this, that we're seeing less pine killed than what might have been anticipated.
Part of the story, as well, when you actually break down all those other coloured lines are the individual management units. If you look at the top, I think that one's Quesnel, and then the next two colours down — I'm not that great with my colours — are Lakes and then Vanderhoof. You'll see numbers as high as 80 percent, 70-some-odd percent. What you get are really high numbers in some management units, so really severe impacts in some places. And then down at the bottom of the curve you get some places where it's much, much lower.
Your provincial average is not bad — not as bad as we would've thought. I mean, it's still quite a significant issue, but it's not as bad as you might have predicted.
But in some areas the impact is still really, really high. Those are those top management units, largely in that beetle-infested area, where you have just a lot of pine in the management profile.
The second thing that's interesting on this, and you'll see it in the next curve, is that some of the management units there have basically a flat line. In other words, the infestation is essentially done. We're no longer killing pine, and that becomes really important when you talk about your management responses, because of the shelf-life issue with respect to pine.
That means we're already into…. The stands are dead; they're already getting old. Whereas, in some of the units we're still seeing green turning to kill. It means you're not into the shelf-life problem yet.
An example would be where I come from in Smithers-Bulkley. We're still on the edge of the infestation, so we're still actually harvesting green pine attack. We'll actually be out harvesting stuff that hasn't yet died or stuff that's just red. We're not into just killing the grey. So the sawmill problems and the shelf-life problems aren't as acute in a management unit like that, which is on the edges of the infestation.
J. Rustad (Chair): Kevin, just one quick question on this, if I may. The "percentage killed, by management unit" that's in there — that's the percentage of pine killed. It's actually not the percentage of the timber supply in that particular unit.
K. Kriese: That's right. And then, I guess, to put that into context, you have to look at how some of these management units have way more pine as a total overall.
So I guess the other layer would be to sort of roll that in and say…. In Lakes it's 70 percent or something like that. It's very, very high. If you've got 80 percent of 70 percent, you've got a really big problem. Whereas, if you had 80 percent of 40 percent, you'd have a different size of problem. There's another layer that you'll see rolls into how big an impact it has on your overall timber supply.
We should take questions on the way through.
H. Bains: Just to understand that. At the very bottom is a thick purple line there. Can you explain that?
K. Kriese: I'll ask Atmo to explain that one. He's the….
Which unit is that?
A. Prasad: That's Cranbrook. Cranbrook has got about 45 percent pine. But the pine is scattered amongst…. It's very dispersed. The pine is dispersed among all the other species, and the infestation hasn't really shown up there. It's just starting there now, and we don't expect it to be pretty bad because the pine is not pure pine stands. There is that plus the topography as well. On those areas out in the eastern part of the province we haven't seen the infestation.
H. Bains: So the expectation is that by about 2020 the infestation will get there? Is that what we are saying? It's not there yet?
A. Prasad: Well, that's what the model is showing — that because it's got pine in there, there is that possibility. But I don't think….
J. Rustad (Chair): I think you should note — and this is your presentation, not mine — that the scale on the side is 40 percent. So there's probably some percent killed in that area today. It's just not up to that 40 percent level, so it's not on the slide.
D. Peterson: And then if you talk to the managers there, they actually fully expect that they will be harvesting all of that. Their harvesting will be directed at the pine, and the pine that the beetle is getting into won't end up becoming dead and just standing. It'll actually be harvested as the beetle is moving into it. So they believe that they will be on top of, completely, the infestation in that area.
H. Bains: So we don't know what the damage is there today.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: The next slide helps you to see that. It's really busy, but….
K. Kriese: Maybe this is a good slide to jump to and see if this answers the question. This one takes a different perspective in terms of on the left-hand side is the total volume killed, and along the bottom is when it was killed.
You see the infestation starting at 1999. Then across, some of the management units peaked around 2005. So the top of the graph, I think that's Quesnel, Lakes…. I can't remember all the management units underneath it. But in the centre of the infestation, the very peak of it, when most of the pine was being killed, was around 2005. Then as the graph goes down, what you've got is the stands are dead, and the beetle is at its maximum. It rapidly starts to run out of food, and the infestation essentially disappears.
Then what you'll get is…. On the right-hand side you'll have some management units on the very right-hand side of the curve. I'm not sure which…. Is the purple again…?
A. Prasad: Cranbrook looks like it's on the bottom there.
K. Kriese: Yeah. Cranbrook looks like it peaks around 2009?
A Voice: No, it's not. Cranbrook is actually kind of a brown, so it's farther to the right, even.
K. Kriese: It looks like Cranbrook peaks around 2012.
H. Bains: Is it district Arrow?
J. Rustad (Chair): Arrow is that little yellow line way down at the very bottom that hardly registers.
H. Bains: Then, comparing this with the previous one, this one is only starting around 2020 or 2019. Here you're showing there's pretty well nothing there, because that thing is going up, at 2024, to 45 percent. It's still going up.
K. Kriese: I think, as John said, on this one, if you look at the scale on the left-hand side, it starts with the proportion of the volume killed at 40 percent.
H. Bains: Yeah, but by 2020 it will be 40 percent. That's the way I read it, unless you explain it to me differently.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Well, I think part of the problem is that we have too many colours here.
A. Nussbaum: We can pull them out. I actually have the spreadsheet that created all of this, so if you want I can pull this out later, and we can look at any one unit as one line, and we can study them individually.
H. Bains: That thing shows 25 percent up there — right? On the left-hand side.
J. Rustad (Chair): No. That's not percentage. That's millions of cubic metres. Different scale.
H. Bains: Hard to compare, then, those two.
K. Kriese: What you're seeing here is in some management units you're still getting pine killed very slowly at sort of low amounts right through till 2024. There are still stands coming, and the beetle kind of rattles around and keeps killing a few stands. That's why on the previous slide you're still seeing the total cumulative volume growing.
But part of the issue here…. This is percentage, whereas this is gross. What one of the key punchlines would be…. This is Dave's point. When you have very low overall gross volumes in a management unit of pine that's killed, normal forest management can handle it. The licensees can hunt around and get at that volume and get it while it's either still green and before it dies, or when it's red attack, or they can salvage it quickly.
It's when you get into these kinds of units where you have this massive volume that it's really hard for normal forest management to go and get this kind of volume before it goes stale.
J. Rustad (Chair): Maybe if I could just ask around that. I think the question that Harry's thinking about is when he's looking at those numbers in the Lakes, and it looks like we've got a significant amount that's going…. That's probably only about…. Out of the overall Arrow Lakes supply area, there's probably only 1½, two million total cubic metres of pine that would be in the area.
Based on this chart here, it hardly even registers the Arrow Lakes. It doesn't get up above a million in terms of the kill. So that's why there's that difference — right? It's a percentage of a very small amount compared to in the Lakes TSA, where you're talking about probably 60 million cubic metres of pine, or whatever that number is in the Lakes.
H. Bains: Fair enough. I'm looking at that diagram. On that particular district it continues to go up, where everywhere else it levelled off by 2024.
So what's the difference? That's what I'm trying to understand. Why does that continue to go up? The others are levelling off.
A. Nussbaum: My sense of it is that it's a unit that's really very…. If we're talking about Cranbrook here, the unit is really….
H. Bains: I don't think it's Cranbrook — is it?
A. Nussbaum: Is it Arrow you're looking at?
J. Rustad (Chair): It's Arrow Lakes.
A. Nussbaum: Arrow Lakes. Arrow currently sits today at 2.4 million cubic metres of kill — that's certainly fairly small in terms of percent — and 31 percent of that is dead. That's the situation today. And over time it grows. In 2022, ten years from now, it is 3.4 million cubic metres of kill, and it's in the 40 percentile of that volume. That's 43 percent of the pine.
These are units that have very little pine. And you know that percentages…. It depends on what the denominator is. So it looks like a very high percentage, but it's a very low amount of pine.
If you take a look at the Lakes TSA, for example. That unit, as we discussed, is in the 70s. The pine proportion is very high, and the kill is very high. They're just totally different units with a totally different composition. The key is to understand that each unit is unique, and the amount of pine really does matter.
Percentages, to me, are always a bit misleading in that the denominator is so important. It makes it look as if the Arrow was a disaster, when in reality it's brushed by the beetle. Then you have the Lakes, and it is decimated by the beetle. So just be careful we understand the absolute amount of pine in each unit.
K. Kriese: The other thing this brings up is…. We're going to paint you sort of a picture with some general trends and themes. One of the questions that we'll be putting forward is: what further information will you need when you go to each community to understand these things more specifically for that particular management unit? There are all these kinds of variables that are different in the Lakes versus in Cranbrook and others. We'll leave that as a hanging question for how you get briefed when you actually get into each community.
The punchline here. First, it's complex. We can rerun these numbers in different ways, so we could rerun the numbers that they have and give you a specific answer on each individual management unit. But what we're trying to describe here is this issue that some management units are very, very bad, while some aren't so bad. Therefore, it makes the provincial average look okay — or better than people had heard.
We want to make sure…. And this becomes the area of focus. It becomes these management units where your issue sort of exceeds your ability to respond in a normal management sort of scenario. In some of these, as Dave said, the managers are confident they can go in to hunt and get the beetle and keep it, without having these big community impacts, mid-term timber supply declines and those kinds of things.
There's the annual kill. The other one I want to point out here, too, is the question of shelf life, which you're familiar with. If your stands essentially all started to significantly die — you peaked in 2004, '05 and '06 — and your shelf life is only five, six or seven years, then you'll get to the point we're going to talk about later, which is that your impact on economic timber supply starts to happen around 2012, '13 and '14. Whereas, if you're in a unit like Mackenzie, where the epidemic has just peaked, you've got more time because your shelf life hasn't hit yet.
This time of peak becomes really important in terms of when it translates to an impact on the economic timber supply and, therefore, on the community.
E. Foster: Kevin, does the shelf life change based on the different areas and that sort of thing, ground type — all that kind of stuff?
K. Kriese: Yeah. That's actually one of the things on which there has been a lot of work in the past decade: to try and predict what the factors behind shelf life are. And it comes down to variables like even how moist the individual site is. You can be in one valley, and the shelf life is really good on these stands on that hillside, and it's really bad on those stands on that hillside. That's one of the hard things to predict.
It also depends on your sawmill response. One log going into one mill will produce you a product, and if it goes into a different mill, they won't be able to get as good a product out of it. So it's not just our ability to predict the shelf life, but it's our ability to predict what the milling response is to that identical physical product. It can be different, depending on which operator and how well they've optimized their ability to make a product out of it.
Okay, so on the next slide, we'll try and shift to what this all means to the industry. First off, this is sort of the historic context. I think everybody knows there was a lot of effort for the industry to adapt and reduce the impact on mid-term timber supply and for the industry to basically focus on pine. Not only was there the increase in harvest levels to try and maximize the economic benefit, to not leave the stands to basically go unutilized, but we also tried a number of tools to get the industry to get into the pine and stay out of the other species.
Now, that's not possible to do 100 percent. Occasionally, they have to take spruce and balsam as a by-product. When you're actually operating, there are just physical realities there. But there was, starting ten years ago, lots of effort to put the industry into pine first. They would basically get that and leave the others as green, to deal with their mid-term.
The second thing is that industry, then, had to…. If you think about an industry that was set up to manage a certain log profile and a certain species diet, they had to shift their needs. Because if they go from milling 50 percent spruce and 50 percent pine and you move them into 75 percent pine, their mills have to respond.
That tended to be smaller piece size and sometimes longer haul distances. Particularly in places like Vanderhoof and Burns Lake they had to shift down to the south, where the epidemic started. They had to, you know, put more trucks on. There was a lot of industry response to try and get at the pine.
And on the milling side, we mentioned sort of their need to respond to a different diet at mills — drier, older, more checked — still trying to get a viable product out the back end. That required a lot of adaptation for the mills, to try and see that they could maximize the value. That's still, in some ways, underway.
D. Peterson: Before you go on, Kevin…. This actually touches on Eric's question. We will come back to this later, because you will see that the standards that the mills are using are very different from one area to another.
It really comes down to that there are parts of the province where that picture didn't look a lot different than what they were always already used to using. In other parts of the province they were used to a completely different species, much bigger logs. So the whole industry has to adapt much more in some of the parts of the province.
The classic will be when we get to Williams Lake. That's more or less what the logs looked like since the '50s in that area, where they certainly didn't usually look like that in Burns Lake or the Vanderhoof area. So much more of a transition, then, to be able to get at this wood.
K. Kriese: The next slide starts to move us into where we're seeing the real impact in terms of declines. First off, where are we at? A lot of the AACs — I'll call it the elevated beetle AACs — have already started to decline. Management units in the Lakes, Prince George, Cranbrook, Kamloops, Lillooet, Merritt, Quesnel, as well as a couple of TFLs — Kamloops, West Fraser and Dunkley — have already seen declines in their AACs.
Some of those temporary uplifts have already started to step down, so we're already seeing the movement back towards what's called either your mid-term or to back out of the beetle uplifts.
The second bullet point, though, is that we're already starting to get to the place where the economically available pine is starting to decline. It's getting hard for licensees to find stands that they believe they can harvest economically and that they can put through their mills successfully.
I speak, again, from my experience in the north, in Burns Lake. We call it the south side. Down across the reservoir — you have to get to it with a barge — there are lots of grey trees. Enormous stands of the pine are virtually…. Well, the pine is all dead there. It's been dead for…. It was the earliest part of the epidemic.
They went in there and harvested as hard as they could until they got to the point where it was no longer economic, partly because it's remote — high transport costs; you've got to go on a barge — but, also, it started falling apart first. So they've already moved out of that even though there is lots of grey wood.
What you're starting to see is that gets a larger and larger part of your timber supply, and the licensees are signalling that in some management units we're only a couple of years away from the point where they can no longer find as much standing timber as the AAC signals could be out there.
We're getting to that point where the economically available timber supply starts to become curtailed. The units where that happens first are Burns Lake, Quesnel and Williams Lake. We figure that's as early as 2013 that they will start to encounter that inability to locate physically and economically operable stands.
Now, the next slide starts to talk about…. If you look at the mid-term timber supply and what the needs are of the licensees, what they're used to….
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Sorry. Did I miss the last bullet here? I was just wondering.
K. Kriese: I just glossed over that one because I was thinking about the next slide.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. What does that mean?
D. Peterson: Sure, I'll help. Really what that is saying is that you end up…. We're seeing that now in some of the TSAs, where everybody is looking at the same stand. The traditional sawmill producers are gradually changing their technology, etc., so they can use poorer and poorer quality, and the users for bioenergy are basically looking at the same stand. So while there is a significant amount of dead pine available, if it gets committed for new users, it actually will reduce the available supply for the existing industry. That's just trying to flag that.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: The other aspect of that is, of course, because a lot of the fibre for these various bioenergy uses is actually residuals. So if the sawmilling industry is not able to go and harvest these stands anymore, we also won't have the residuals available for bioenergy. That's the other aspect of that.
K. Kriese: The best examples would be pellet plants where they go and they…. You know, the waste. If you're logging in a stand that's mountain pine beetle, you get a lot more waste than you would have had in a green stand. There'd be very large waste piles, and Pinnacle, which operates throughout the corridor of interest, basically goes and chips that. The trucks show up. If we decline our harvest level, there's less waste, and there's less for them to chip, so there's a supply impact on them to feed their pellet plants.
B. Routley: As the years click by, the economic viability of harvesting that wood becomes more and more difficult. It really stretches my imagination to try to figure out how you can mitigate harvesting in those zones. You're not going to make the trees any newer, because you're looking at visual quality areas or old-growth areas or biodiversity zones. You still have the same problem. The pine in those areas — at least my assumption would be — was hit at the same time, and so you've got the same age class and, therefore, the same problem.
How are we going to find…? The whole goal of this committee is to try and find extra timber. How are you going to do that when the trees are dead and they're dying?
J. Rustad (Chair): Actually, why don't we wait until we get the presentation around that. That will be addressed in the future. It's next.
K. Kriese: I think in terms of the context, there's one piece I can answer now, which is that you're right. Once a stand is dead, in the first year it's very valuable, but after that, it slowly starts to decline, and there's a bit of a curve where it declines rapidly. At some point it's got a lot of sawlog and a little bioresidual, and then it's got a little sawlog and a lot of residual, and at some point it's got no sawlog. So you get to a point where, essentially, it only has value as a bioenergy or some other low-value fibre.
We don't know where, on that curve of decline — because it does depend on a whole bunch of issues — its economics are no longer available for a sawlog operator to go in. They can handle some waste, for sure. Some of them are really good, and they can handle a lot of waste, but you get to this point where we have a hard time predicting when it is that it's lost enough value that it's just simply not economic from a sawlog perspective.
The next slide. This again comes back and focuses…. The analysis here is just on four of the most directly affected management units — Prince George TSA, Lakes, Quesnel and Williams Lake. I should say that some of our analysis on Prince George focuses on the timber supply area, which includes three districts. Prince George is the biggest timber supply area in the province. Sometimes we break it down. Vanderhoof, as one of those most affected areas, is part of the Prince George timber supply area.
The first line shows you what the allowable cuts were before the beetle. You might have considered that sort of normal forest management, or what we thought was our normal forest management scenario. Then the current allowable annual cut, which in cases like Prince George is actually lower. At the peak of the beetle, it was, I think, 14.9.
Then the next line is what we currently project the mid-term timber supply to be. You'll see lots of graphs around that later. Then the next two lines are really trying to get at what the current mill capacity is that we know of on two criteria. One is a two-shift capacity, which is generally what you consider a company needs to operate on to be viable economically. A three-shift capacity is when things are going great guns, and things are really robust. They can find the extra wood. That's useful, but it's generally not considered what's required to operate a mill and basically turn a reasonable profit.
What becomes interesting is if you look at the two-shift capacity and you either compare it to the mid-term or the current, what you'll start to see is that it's not far off of the current, or it tends to be below the current, which would sort of mean they're still running three shifts in some cases. But your real gap in terms of your community expectations is that gap between the two-shift capacity and the mid-term timber supply.
J. Rustad (Chair): I notice in the Lakes, the two-capacity is 1.3. Of course, that's pre-January 20.
K. Kriese: That's correct.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: And that's a challenge, because we have done this now based on our latest mill survey, and then we have done the best we can to try to adjust it for various mill closures and everything. But we left that one now there.
J. Rustad (Chair): And same with in Prince George — the Lakeland capacity.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Yes. This is, of course, not quite exact science when we actually calculate these numbers, but it gives you the magnitude of the issue anyway.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): It's just a terminology question. You're using SWE. That's an acronym for solid wood equivalents. I don't know how commonly used that is. Often people use different terms there. I presume it's an attempt so that we can see sort of the equivalence of oranges to oranges, but is it straight oranges to oranges? Are you talking about something different with SWE metres as compared to the cubic metres that you'd use in harvesting, or is it exactly the same?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: I don't believe that it comes to the decimal point the same, but it…
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): But it's close enough.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: …is close enough that we were able to calculate.
K. Kriese: Another thing about the comparable. That two-shift capacity — we're comparing that mid-term timber supply from our timber supply areas. There's private land. There are other timber supply sources as well. So there's another reason why they're not going to be exactly, but they get you into the ballpark range of what the balance is between supply and….
J. Rustad (Chair): Just following up on that. Do you want to carry on? I just wanted to ask, because I'm just wondering. For the mid-term timber supply number that you have in there, does that include TFLs without licences, community forests, First Nation tenures, area tenures?
A. Prasad: It's just the TSAs.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just the TSAs.
H. Bains: Maybe you could explain to me how SWE is different, measuring that, compared to the AAC? Norm asked that question, so if you could just…?
D. Peterson: I'll start on that. The capacity of a sawmill is all designed around the amount of board feet that they can produce. When you ask a sawmill owner what the capacity is, it's in board feet. We have to translate the board feet measurement back to AAC cubic metres, which is how we measure standing trees. So it's just a translation from board feet back to standing tree cubic metres.
H. Bains: When you talk about board feet, that is the finished product, and that doesn't reflect the intake. We are only measuring the output, not the input.
D. Peterson: No, when they come up with their capacity, they do it on input. They come up with it based on input. They translate between their…. It enters the sawmill, then it's rough cut, then it's planed down, etc. They take that into account, the sawmills do, when they say: "Here's what our board foot capacity is." They don't do it just on output.
B. Routley: Maybe I can help. Is that the volume that they actually consume to run two shifts?
Some Voices: Yes.
K. Kriese: And the reason it's not identical to this is that…. Well, it's hard to say, but if you take a really big log, you get a lot of 2-by-4s out of it. If you take three really small logs that have the same number of cubic metres, you get less 2-by-4s out of it. So that's why we can't directly translate a cubic metre of standing timber into their mill output, because it depends on what kind of die it is.
There are a bunch of variables as to whether or not this would match that. I think the key point would be, given those technical conversion issues, this solid wood equivalent of cubic metres is very, very similar to what we're trying to measure here, which is cubic metres a year of actual harvest. So that's, I think, trying to get at: are they comparable? The answer is yes, with a couple of technical difference that, in the wash, don't really matter.
H. Bains: Did they always use SWE?
K. Kriese: From an industrial perspective?
H. Bains: Going back into the history? Because when I was in the mills, when we sat down with different operators and they would tell us, "This is the cubic metres we need to keep our mill going," they never talked about SWE.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: This is a product of how the mill survey goes out and how the actual companies answer them. Because they answer in board feet, for this purpose, we had to back-calculate and try to turn it into cubic metres. Now, it's close enough, in my mind, especially if you consider, as Mr. Chair pointed out, that TFLs are not included. There is significant fibre flow between the management units anyways.
It's not that everything that is harvested necessarily in Prince George gets milled in Prince George. There are significant timber flows between management units, so this just kind of gives the flavour of the situation.
H. Bains: So that I understand, did that number include the chips that are produced and the sawdust that is produced in the SWE?
K. Kriese: This turns into a punchline. This is the base data that tells you, therefore, what's your potential impact on communities.
We'll jump to this next slide — really starts to translate that into community impacts. This is, again, focusing on the area of greatest, sort of deepest, impact from the beetle. The size of the square is essentially the size of what the projected impact would in terms of on communities.
Again, we've done this by electoral districts in terms of our analysis — Nechako Lakes, Prince George North, Prince George–Valemount, Cariboo North and Cariboo-Chilcotin.
Essentially, right now in this corridor there are 24 large mills, and they consume roughly 23 million cubic metres of timber a year. If you add up all the mid-term timber supply projections, that will decline to around 13 million cubic metres a year from the current 24.
Based on what we project — now, there are a bunch of other things in terms of our projections, which is the supply from private lands and all of those kinds of things factored in — the best guess is that out of those 24 mills, eight large mills would probably close.
We're also making some assumptions. We talked about, for example, that some mills are running at three shifts a day. So our prediction is that a mill would stop running three shifts and run two but still operate. There would be some employment losses attributed to that. That's why it's not just….
You would go from 24 to 13. You don't just drop out an equivalent number of mills, because some of them would just reduce their capacity. We've tried to factor that in. It's a little bit of a guessing game, because we don't know all the industry responses. But best guess is that in this area you would see approximately eight of those large primary manufacturing facilities close.
We haven't articulated or estimated the number of associated facilities that would also close, but you could anticipate that there are reman facilities that take the trim ends. We talked about the bioenergy that takes some of the waste. There are other users who take the secondary products who would also be impacted.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just to that end, obviously, our pulp mill industry is pretty critical and requires the chips that are processed. What do you think the impact would be on the pulp industry?
K. Kriese: That's a good question. I haven't done that. I don't know where….
D. Peterson: There's actually one factor that's very, very relevant there. Clearly, as the trees get older, as Kevin said, they reach a point where you can't produce lumber out of them. But you can still use them for pulp chip, if that's economical.
The pulp sector could transition to a higher and higher diet of whole log chipping, not just sawmill residual, if their economics can improve. There's actually a fair amount of work going on within that sector right now to see if they can do some transformational thing to improve their economics so they can directly bring in the dead pine rather than just use residuals from sawmills.
That's one of the reasons why it isn't quite as kind of a linear relationship, even though, as Kevin explained, even in the sawmills it's not purely linear. But in the pulp mills there's a significant other factor. If they can increase their economics, they can use a lot of the dead volume.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you.
B. Routley: Just quickly on that. I ran into some pulp workers yesterday, and the folks in Powell River reminded me that they felt that they were actually impacted by the work that we're doing, because the diet of wood that they require comes almost entirely from the Interior. So it's all pine.
J. Rustad (Chair): That's a good point. Thanks.
As a matter of fact, maybe just make mention to them that there will be that opportunity when we do the provincial consultation, or through written submissions. It would be nice to hear their particular comments around that supply.
K. Kriese: One thing people sometimes ask us, too, is: can you predict which mills are going to go? Of course, we try and stay out of that business. But you can start to think about geographically — wood can only flow so far economically. So at some level what you're going to get is…. If there's a cluster of mills geographically together — say, there are three mills here or two mills here — and the supply is reduced by 50 percent, it's likely that one mill out of those two would go down.
We try not to get into the business of predicting which ones, but you can start to show that the impact would be spread across, kind of based on where the overall reduction is to the timber supply.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): None of this is particularly new. I mean, you're up there. The companies have known about this for a long time. Have they made investment choices? Is this ten years on, and they've planned, and they've got their strategies? Is that your sense — that that's something that's been done?
K. Kriese: Yes. I mean, of course they don't tell us that, but you can see…. I'll give an example. West Fraser, in their facility in Fraser Lake, is investing in a bioenergy facility that only can exist for a $40 million dollar investment — John? It's part of the phase 2 call. That can only exist if there's a primary breakdown facility there.
They know all the numbers. They pretty clearly believe that they can sustain that operation into the mid-term or they wouldn't be spending $40 million in capital or whatever it is. So we know the companies have knowledge and they're making capital investments, but we honestly don't have all the information on what that would look like.
D. Peterson: Each one of them has individually…. And the larger companies like West Fraser or Canfor, you can then see it reflected, as Kevin said, in where they're investing.
Where it gets less easy to see is where it's smaller companies and there is a mix in any one community. So then it's not quite so obvious which would be the mill that would remain in that community and which wouldn't be.
But within each of the bigger companies, absolutely. You can just see it quite easily. West Fraser, again, put a huge investment in a sawmill in Quesnel based on the premise that they would be able to get a fibre supply for that mill in Quesnel.
H. Bains: I'll just try to understand this mill closure scenario. Do you have numbers — the pre–pine beetle number of mills that existed? Then there's uplift. The uplift was accommodated by just adding shifts? Or were there some new mills that were brought in — brand new mills that weren't there before — just to deal with this uplift in the AAC? Do we have some information on that?
K. Kriese: We don't have it at our fingertips. We could get it. I'll maybe try and summarize what I think we know, which is there weren't…. We don't know of any new mills that were added to deal with the beetle.
J. Rustad (Chair): Not on a large scale.
D. Peterson: Well, yeah, there are actually lots…. And again, I'll use the example of West Fraser, where they had an existing sawmill in Quesnel. They built a new one with significantly more capacity than their old one. So that was an increase.
The other thing that happened is every one of the mills not just increased their shifting, but they increased their throughput. They didn't necessarily build a new mill, but they substantially increased the throughput.
We do have the numbers. We didn't bring them with us, but we can certainly go back to pre-beetle and the capacity at that time.
K. Kriese: I would say the punchline would be that if you look at the numbers, pre-beetle meaning almost a decade ago, for those reasons and because of all the other challenges with the markets, virtually all the mills have significantly increased — either put in big capital dollars or increased their capacity to decrease their costs and make themselves more competitive. So you see them both running more volume, but also running down their costs quite a bit.
That's right through from, you know, Houston, Fraser Lake. Mills across the north are better, bigger, more efficient operators, and they put more volume through than they would have in a single facility before.
J. Rustad (Chair): And some companies have also…. For example, L&M Lumber in Vanderhoof designed their mill around being able to actually handle very small wood, the type of wood that typically would not be targeted by some of the other mills. They have increased their planer speed, etc., and been able to actually process that and make that economical.
So there are different strategies that have been deployed around the impact and the type of fibre supply that they were looking at.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Now, what you've given is sort of based on that mid-term timber projection. We had the timber harvest land base that is there. But I guess part of that, the industry has said, is not commercially viable anymore.
So when we're looking at the mid-term, are we talking about areas that, as it stands now, are commercially viable? Or are we talking about an area that presently might not be commercially viable? That switches numbers a lot. So maybe just….
K. Kriese: The numbers we're going to present to you try and take into account the economics as we know it. You're right. If we know that an area or a stand type simply isn't economic, we've tried to reflect that in the models. Maybe I'll let Albert respond to how well we are predicting that. That is probably one of the questions.
A. Nussbaum: We've sort of got two things going on, the way I see it, Norm. In terms of economics, in the pine component, in the high pine stands, the value of those stands is deteriorating — okay? So in a sense, some stands are sort of checking out. We always knew that would happen. We wouldn't get to them before the time was up.
When we go into the mid-term, we're kind of talking about a different cohort of stands. They're stands that are…. They may be somewhat impacted, but they're more or less intact. So they're more or less the green component. We didn't exclude…. Those stands have a different economic profile than the pine stands that are on this sort of tick-down scenario.
We have adjusted the THLB but not significantly for the mid-term. What we've done is say the green component, the green stands, are still viable, because they haven't been impacted that much. But when licensees say they're running out of wood, they're finding it harder to find economic stands that have enough value left in them, that they can still interoperate in heavily impacted pine.
There are two components we're going to talk about. In the near term the problem is dead pine and the economics of dead pine. In the mid-term it's back to green. You have to sort of switch in your head: what are we talking about in the near term? Why are they having a hard time in that dead profile? When they go into the mid-term, what will they do when they get into the green profile again? — in a sense, because they return to green stands. Okay?
D. Peterson: Then one of the difficulties…. I know you will hear this from some of the industry members when we get together. There are all sorts of people that are predicting — whether they call it a supercycle — that we'll get back into better market conditions. So this year's economics won't necessarily be the economics two years out.
The marginal stands are right on the edge, so that could significantly redefine that sort of immediate-term economic opportunity. That's one of the things that we just have to try and factor into this.
K. Kriese: So we also tried…. As part of this is we're always focusing on the fibre side. We've got to remember to present some information on all the other folks out there.
The tourism one is interesting, because clearly they are impacted by beetles and from a bunch of different factors. They use it for access. All sorts of issues when we either harvest or don't harvest with respect to tourism. But clearly their biggest concern around this is the impact on their business from increased harvest levels and changing scenic resources and those kinds of things.
You're aware of those. We just wanted to make sure we flag that that's part of the equation.
J. Rustad (Chair): If I could just ask around that — the estimated $1.5 billion on natural resource tourism business annually. That's a number for B.C., not a number for just the pine beetle–impacted area. Is that correct?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Yes, that is the B.C. number.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay, so obviously, what would be in the pine beetle–impacted area is significantly smaller than that total number. Thank you.
E. Foster: On that, when they about the viewscapes and so on, what's the feeling…? Whether it's harvested or not harvested, it's ugly if it's dead. I guess the question is: what's their ask? Or is it just an information thing?
K. Kriese: Well, really there are two questions. Their ask, certainly from their perspective, is it's just better to have it way more scenic. The question becomes how much impact can you have before it really drives away their business. What you're trying to get at is: is there a place where people just say: "I just can live with it"?
We have, actually, some perception studies that show where you start to get to the point — and we could probably present this later — where people are saying: "Yeah, I see it. It's not wilderness, but I'm okay with that," versus: "I really don't like it." Both from a tourist perspective and from a resident perspective, we can present where you hit those kinds of thresholds.
It is interesting, because it gives you a really good sense of where there might be some sweet spots for making changes while still meeting their values. So we do have data on that.
E. Foster: I can see the difference between a nice pristine green forest and a cutblock, but I really can't see a whole lot of difference between 2,000 acres of grey bug kill and having it logged. Really, from a….
A. Nussbaum: Eric, when we're talking about mid-term timber supply, we're talking about taking — so we're going to be moving into mid-term — constraints off the remainder of the green stands.
E. Foster: Oh, I see. Okay. Gotcha.
A. Nussbaum: Again, remember: near term is the dead, and the mid-term, we're back to green They've already got a disturbed landscape now, and now you're going to add to it, and that's where it gets testy.
D. Peterson: I also think, Eric, and you will hear this when you get around to the communities, it partly depends on how close you are. A hillside across a lake that has a lot of dead trees isn't necessarily anywhere near as bad-looking, if you want to call it, as a hillside right beside your lodge, kind of thing. That makes a big difference.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just to understand the visual quality. There's logging in these areas — right? It's just that it's done in a particular way.
D. Barnett: It's basically that selective logging, if it's done properly, is acceptable. I think the best thing to do would be if we could have some really good visual pictures of some of this so people can understand where the issues lie. I have lots of them in my riding.
K. Kriese: The next one we present is just a quick summary that there are also impacts on the range resources, both the harvesting…. An increased level of harvesting removes range barriers, and that creates fence maintenance costs, cattle management costs. So as you go in and harvest, particularly at accelerated levels, it's harder on the cattlemen.
We also have things like introduction of weeds, the impact on water. There is evidence that's fairly conclusive that in some of our most-impacted beetle stands there is a change to the water balance, both naturally, which is also exacerbated when you go after those significant salvage harvests. That does have an impact on the range resource, where they can't get at water as easily. There are those kinds of impacts which are part of the equation as well.
J. Rustad (Chair): I didn't notice in there — and it probably should be on the list — is that a lot of the cattlemen that have range in pine beetle areas are having difficulty having their cattle just get through the pine because of the trees that are falling down and stuff as well. The stuff that's left behind is just as problematic as the other challenges that are being created.
D. Peterson: I mean, it's similar to Eric's point where the beetle infestation itself has an impact on other users — whether it's tourism, recreation, ranchers — and then there's an impact from the harvest activity. It's kind of a two-pronged impact.
K. Kriese: We're almost getting through the background part. We did want to present, and you've seen some of this, around some assessment of the economic diversification is. Obviously, if you have a very diverse economy, the impact of losing a single mill may be significant, but it's not as deep in terms of all the other triggers in terms of impact on a community.
What this slide shows you on the green is the most recent numbers that we could get around community economic dependency. The green is their dependency on forestry and wood processing.
I should note that this is out of date. If you note, up in the very far right-hand corner it shows Fort Nelson. This is from 2006. Well, Canfor has shut down in Fort Nelson. It is no longer a forestry-dependent community. It's now an oil-and-gas-dependent community. It just goes to show that these things do cycle and change.
The key message here is that the areas that are most significantly impacted by the beetle also happens to be the most forestry-dependent parts of the province. Your community impacts are increasingly higher. That's an interesting piece to keep track of.
The slide on the right also just correlates back. We tried to, as part of the information package that you have, describe where are the major projects which could be opportunities to diversify communities relative to those beetle-affected communities.
You'll see lots of little dots that are various projects, whether they're IPPs or proposed mines. You'll see a big swath of them both down the right-hand side, which is up in the northeast coal belt, up in the far northwest around Highway 37, as well as scattered throughout the middle. So that's projects like Mount Milligan and some of the projects down here. It does show that there are other opportunities to diversify.
The last set of our…. Make sure I catch up with my slides here. In terms of just summarizing the background, a couple more slides before we get into options — two more slides.
This is also just trying to, then, summarize what we know about the timber constraints. I think you've seen a presentation from Allan on sort of the land use planning background. So this is composite slide that shows you all of the mapped constraints inside the most heavily affected beetle management units.
A couple of points arise here. One that really strikes you is the difference between the different parts of the province in terms of their approach to managing land use and the kind of planning that they have.
You'll see, down in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, because of the history of the Cariboo-Chilcotin land use plan and the approach that was taken there, that there are lots of mapped constraints. So lots of little dots, whereas if you go across the border, you see less little dots.
That doesn't mean that they don't have land use objectives. What it means is they are not mapped at a spatial level. They tend to be what are called word objectives, where licensees can move the objectives around; they haven't actually nailed it — particularly with respect to old growth.
That's one of the biggest ones, where you have a choice under policy either to — we'll talk about it later — lock them down and really define where the old growth is, or where you can let them rove around the landscape over time, and the licensees…. You haven't formalized where they exist, but you know that they exist because old growth, particularly in these kinds of ecosystems, did move around.
What's important is that every land use plan and every management unit has a slightly different flavour based on the choices that were made over those ten, 15 or 20 years of planning. But don't assume, because there's white, that there aren't constraints. It just means we don't have explicit maps.
The second thing that starts to pop out is you get some really interesting trees. This one I found interesting because you really see lots and lots of constraints that are mapped over in this part of Prince George. Well, that's driven, I think, because of caribou.
I didn't have my detail, but that's mountain caribou habitat. So obviously, the province made decisions to protect mountain caribou, and we have very explicit planning around that. So you've got lots and lots of detail around where mountain caribou are.
Down in the centre here, Gerry, I'm going to guess, just based on my lack of experience in Cariboo-Chilcotin, that that's probably deer-ungulate winter ranges down the centre of the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Trends start to pick up around issues like that, and you get different themes.
The other thing that I wanted to emphasize is this. This is a really tricky one, when we talk to the public and we talk to our staff. The language that's being used from this particular discussion is around timber constraints. But also, our ministry and foresters and everyone is responsible for managing these other values.
So we also introduced the issue of non-timber values. While this may be a constraint to timber supply, it's not a constraint to the caribou. It's a valued component. So we've tried to introduce the term "non-timbered values." This is actually essential to their life cycle.
It's an interesting language proposition when we talk about constraints, because that's the fibre-centric view, which is critical if you're talking about the need to supply communities.
But we also have to put on our hats and talk about what the values that these produce for all the other things that are going on out there. Of course, that's a big part of the conversation, then — which of those two pieces, and how do you balance those two off. So we'll talk more, when we get into the options, about more detail around what these actually look like in certain areas.
The last slide around background is…. Before we get into the options, we wanted to introduce that all of the options we've tried to consider — those due-regard statements that are part of the process that we're involved in. That's the fiscal considerations, environmental standards, community health, competitive forest industry, First Nations and softwood lumber and other trade agreements.
When we talk about moving into the options we're going to present, these are some of the due-regards — things that we've taken into account in trying to present. We'll try to identify them for you when we move through them.
H. Bains: Can you explain the fiscal part?
K. Kriese: Sorry, before I move off of it…. You'll see later that some of the options that are under consideration have a fiscal impact. Either they require funding, or somewhere else they require a change in the fiscal framework in order to make them real.
What we've tried to do is to sort of identify those. If you go down that path, that will have either a fee or a program cost or, in some other cases, an impact on ratepayers or prices somewhere down the line. We tried under each one to figure out which ones have that kind of cost.
That's the background piece. What I was going to propose to do next is to quickly walk you through, almost flip through the slides really rapidly so you get a flavour for what the five options would look like and then how we roll them together, and then come back to each of the individual options and have this kind of conversation on each of them as we go through.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just before you go into the options, I just want to make sure…. Does anybody have any other questions or thoughts around the background stuff that you wanted clarified before we move to the next step?
H. Bains: Just going back to the shelf life that was talked about. I think the explanation was based on the moisture in the area and also based on the sawmilling ability to convert them to a useful product. The same product can actually…. If there was a desire to change technology, then they could use the same stand and make some product out of it.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: And as Kevin said, industry has done huge amount of development in terms of technologies — like, for example, how they scan the logs when they go into the mills to see where the checks are so they can optimize the yield from that. All of that has been already going on.
B. Routley: Before we get into the mitigation options, have we already excluded all of the timber that would not have value to milling current operational requirements within those areas or regions? Or are some of those options simply going to supply timber that may already no longer be viable in a manufacturing operation?
K. Kriese: You're right. What we've tried to identify, for every one of the options, are options that could reasonably be used economically by the companies. You're right. We try and say: "We don't want to just deliver a log but a log that could be used." That's what we try to figure out in each of these options.
L. Pedersen: Bill, you actually touched on this earlier. I think when we look at the options, it will come back again. I think you raised that same point that…. So there may be more timber available that is economic now, but it's getting very close to its shelf life. It will really only be economic for maybe two more years.
That's one of the considerations you're going to have to have when you say, "Should we try and get more timber from another source?" when it actually may only be a relatively few number of years and then its value drops off anyway.
J. Rustad: One of the things, I'm sure, that we'll get into in a discussion later is some of the stuff that may be uneconomical because of distance or other factors. When you're looking at an overall cycle and trying to fill in some of the mid-term challenges that you have, there may be opportunities to utilize that when market conditions change. That may be some of the things that we might discuss in terms of options as to how things will go down the road.
I'm just going to suggest that at this stage we take a quick recess — two to four minutes or so. Then we'll come back. Just to give everybody a chance to refresh their coffees and stuff before we fly into the meat of it.
The committee recessed from 9:14 a.m. to 9:28 a.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): We are about to carry on with the presentation on some of the options that we have in front of us. With that, I'll turn it over to Kevin.
K. Kriese: Okay. We'll try and keep this understandable. What I thought we'd do is really quickly skate through so that you get a flavour for all of the options, and then we'll come back to them. So I'll be really quick here. Try and hold the questions till we get in deeper. I'll just quickly skate.
There are really four or five different baskets of options. Timber constraints is one. Under timber constraints, we'll talk about visual quality objectives. We'll talk about what they are, and we'll talk a little bit about what we think the opportunity is from changing them.
The second one under constraints is old-growth management areas. Again, we'll describe kind of what they look like, where they are and what some of the options are — the value or, I guess, the size of the mitigation opportunity that would arrive for old-growth management areas.
Then we'll talk about riparian and stand-level biodiversity, and then finally, we'll talk about ungulate winter ranges and recreation. So those are five timber constraints that we'll walk you through.
The next piece we'll do is that we'll describe to you what they add up to in each management unit. We'll try and give you a picture. Some of them aren't relevant in some management units, or there's not much there. Some of them, there's a lot there. We'll try and give you a composite picture of what those constraints could look like if you did all of them or a combination of them in each management unit. We'll give you a bit of a sense of how they add up.
The next basket of options is what we call AAC management. It's not about growing more or reducing the impact on overall fibre supply. It's about changing how you access that fibre and when you access it.
The first one we'll talk about is essentially timber flow and the choice that you have around how and when you access the fibre that's out on the land base. That's the question of timber flow. We'll give you some graphs and describe for you in a graph where the choices can lie. We'll try and get into lots of these funky pictures as we move along and explain those.
The second one is that there are real issues inside the allowable annual cut — not so much about growing trees but about what constitutes the volume cutoff and the merchantability cutoff. So we'll get into that part of AAC administration.
Those are the two AAC…. Again, there are pictures that describe to you the options around that.
Then the third one around AAC administration is amalgamating management units. Again, it's not about growing more trees. It's about how the way you administer can have an influence on what's available. So we'll talk about that third one under AAC management. We'll, again, give you a picture of how that plays out.
Then we're going to jump into the third basket, which is forest management. This is about — for those of you who didn't attend forestry school like I did some time ago — how do you grow more trees? How do you sort of change your forest management activities in such a way that you can either capture more of the fibre or just plain grow more fibre, and make it economically available?
The first one of those that we'll describe is silviculture. We have very specific numbers on how much fertilization could deliver in terms of that type of program. The second one is other intensive silviculture like commercial thinning, juvenile spacing. We'll describe a little bit about what is potentially available there.
Then the third one that we describe under forest management is short-rotation plantations, which is very topical on the coast. Again, that's forest management. So now we're into our third bucket of potential options, under forest management.
Then we move into options around tenure. Specifically, we'll be describing what we know to be the potential range of benefits or options around shifting from volume-based to area-based tenures. So we'll talk a little bit about where we're at in terms of process and what we think the size of the opportunity would be and how that would arise. That's bucket No. 4 in terms of options.
Then bucket No. 5 is the economics of low-quality stands. This is kind of related to our other option around changing merchantability, but it's a little bit different. We talked a lot, earlier in our introduction, about there are stands that are physically out there, but they're just not quite economic. They might be marginally economic and good in some markets, but are there other levers that you can pull that would make those stands somehow viable for somebody to use in an industrial capacity?
We'll talk a little bit about bioenergy's role in that and whether or not there are things that you can do under the bioenergy portfolio that make stands that are physically available economically available. And we'll talk a little bit about infrastructure and whether or not investment and infrastructure can also translate for marginally economic stands to become economic.
The last piece that we'll then walk through is composite scenarios. In each management unit, each of those five different buckets that we described can be applied in different ways and have different levels of benefits. What we'll pull together are some of the composite scenarios that we've developed.
As you can imagine, any time that you've got five things in different combinations, there are probably 35 different ways, or 135 different ways, that they can be combined. We'll try and identify for you the thinking that's gone on so far around how they could be pulled together to represent the potential range of benefits. So we'll present you pictures for four of the management units that describe where we're at today in terms of supply and how those composite scenarios pull together and what the change could be in the mid-term.
We'll try and wrap this all up into some summary. If you did these kinds of things and you thought about it this way, this is the potential range of mitigation opportunity. We do that for Lakes, Quesnel, Williams Lake, and then I think that's the end of it. We can talk about Prince George. We don't have a slide to present.
That gives you a flavour of how we would approach the options presentation. I guess, looking to the Chair, should I just dive in?
J. Rustad (Chair): Does anybody have any questions on the overall components?
I just have one question, which is on the first part when you talk about recreation. I assume that's going to cover off a fairly wide range of recreational options — you know, such as parks or any of those sorts of things. Or are parks not…?
K. Kriese: It doesn't cover…. It covers just specifically recreation objectives as a constraint inside timber supply areas. Because parks are excluded, we didn't look at that.
J. Rustad (Chair): Have you looked at that as one possible scenario? A group of First Nations actually approached me about that as a potential option in one of the areas that they wanted to look at, which is why I'm asking about it.
K. Kriese: In terms of parks, we haven't in this analysis looked at parks specifically for two reasons. One is that we haven't been asked, been specifically given: "We want to look at it."
And a lot of the work that we've done started in that mid-term timber supply project, which very explicitly said that that's not a place that the industry advisory group and others said there was a lot of profit in looking into in detail. So at this point, we haven't looked at the parks question.
H. Bains: I think one of the questions still in my mind is the economics of certain areas. To me it means the price that they get for the product and the cost of extracting that resource and putting it through the mill. Part of that equation is the stumpage — right? So if the price goes up, how are they linked in these stands? How could you make it economically viable to get to that area of the woods that is not economic today?
K. Kriese: Maybe I'll describe how we think about that when we approach the analysis, and then I'll see if other people want to add to it. Essentially, we assume in all of our analysis that stumpage essentially goes to zero and that the province sort of reduces stumpage. At some point, then, it's included in a stand as long as it's economic, even at 25 cent stumpage.
It's when it gets down to minus $1 or minus $2 or minus $5 that the companies can't operate, and we can't relieve them of that. So in essence, the province takes its reduction first so that they're still operating, and those stands are included as long as it delivers a minimum stumpage rate, in theory.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: We have Grant Loeb here, who is the expert in pricing, so we should probably let Grant address the question. But it is also my understanding that stumpage is not an extremely significant component of the company's costs overall, and so it's not a big lever in that sense.
Grant, do you want to provide anything further?
J. Rustad (Chair): Grant, if you could just give your name and title for the record, for Hansard's purposes.
G. Loeb: My name is Grant Loeb. I'm the manager of timber pricing in the timber pricing branch.
The question around stumpage sort of goes back to some of the earlier discussion. It depends whether you're talking near term, in the dead pine stands, or sort of the mid-term, moving into green stands. So we use a transactional evidence-based system. B.C. Timber Sales sells the stands. We price the major licensees based on those sales.
Dead pine has very little volume, so you can see that moving to 25 cents. The green stands are, you know…. If that's what the licensees are operating in, you would expect to have higher stumpage.
H. Bains: When we talk about mid-term, we're talking about green stands, then — right? I'm looking at that area, or the time frame. Today the price of lumber is — I don't know — $300, just for argument's sake, and the price goes up to $400, as it was at one time. How will that reflect in the mid-term timber supply time frame when the price is higher? How would that reflect the stumpage?
G. Loeb: It's very hard to sort of estimate what the stumpage rates would be, but you would expect that they would go up. We've already seen lumber come up the last month or so. In June the border taxes dropped from 15 percent to 10 percent. We expect it could go to 5 percent in July.
We're also seeing higher bids, more people interested in B.C. Timber Sales because of sort of more optimism and maybe a shortage of green fibre.
H. Bains: So when you're looking at…. Right now, the economics argument is there, and we have those stands still sitting there, and they're not being restocked. But during the mid-term — we're talking about hypotheticals here — if the prices go up, how do you make these stands economic again? Are they going to stay there, forever uneconomical, or they will be economical one time?
If the stumpage price goes to a level and the price goes higher and their profit level is still the same, then it's not economical anymore, or, you know, economics doesn't work, and there will continue to be the situation that we have today. That's the question that I'm trying to get around in my head.
G. Loeb: You would expect more stands to become more economic as the market improved.
L. Pedersen: If I could, we spoke about this a couple of days ago — about bringing into the land base areas that are not currently viable because of current market conditions or merchantability standards of today. Create two different types of stands in your mind, because I think there is a bit of ambiguity in this exchange.
One stand is the stand that is currently merchantable or that is expected to be merchantable in the mid-term. It's contributing to that timber supply. What Grant said in response to that stand is that if market values go up, it's reasonable to expect the stumpage value of that stand would also go up.
However, that doesn’t answer, I think, the bigger question you're asking: how would an increase in market value affect our view of the land base on those stands that are currently not contributing to timber supply in the mid-term? The answer is that it would be a trend that you could reasonably consider would bring some of those stands into merchantability, and they would therefore contribute to mid-term timber supply. In fact, they would increase the mid-term timber supply.
The analysis capacity to look at that question exists. I do foresee that the answer to that question is actually coming in the presentation. It is an important consideration because it is a mitigation option.
Then the question for the Crown becomes…. If it gets overly priced and it's marginal to start with, you can price it back out of viability. But if the pricing policy is sensitive to the low value or marginal nature of the stand, then in all likelihood there is a mitigative opportunity that exists.
H. Bains: Okay. My next question is: when we are talking about mid-term timber supply, was that taken into consideration?
K. Kriese: I'll offer an answer. I think Larry's point…. In the mid-term we assume that the stumpage system does not alienate any stands. It's rough and dirty — not a bad assumption, because it's market-sensitive.
I think the larger issue that you're getting at is that if prices go up…. I'll give an example. We know there are some steep slopes that are currently excluded. We look at them and go: "There's some good wood on there." If the price was $450 for a thousand board feet, they could afford to go and log steep slopes with cable systems and so on. Some of our local managers can tell you exactly: "We know that it's a really big deal in this unit and not a very big deal in this unit, and there's a really big opportunity here and here."
For each area it's unique. In Prince George, for example, we know it's that whole Sustut block. There's a very large opportunity of good wood, but it's just physically remote, and it has high transportation costs. We can give you, when you drill into each management unit, kind of an assessment of: "If prices went up, this kind of wood would turn on, and these are the kinds of conditions that it would take." Maybe we can….
H. Bains: Just to follow up on that. When we're talking mid-term timber supply, all of that is based on what the economics are today — right? So you could pretty well presume that that scenario is not included in this if the price goes up. Then more timber will become available, because it's more economically viable to get to — right?
J. Rustad (Chair): Sorry. If I can just ask a question in relation to that, because I want to put it in context. Obviously, market prices can fluctuate yearly, up and down, and yet mid-term fibre supply we're talking about over a rotation. So you've got to take averages and that side of it. When you're answering that, I just want to know in that sort of context about how you deal with that over a rotation and over a business cycle.
K. Kriese: Right. I think the answer is that we try and use a business cycle — or sort of the peaks and the valleys. There are stands included — if you went three years back, when lumber was 250 bucks or whatever it was — in the allowable cut that were not economic when it was 250 bucks, but they are economic at $300, $350. When they developed the timber supply analysis package, the local managers billed based on what they believed to be — as John characterized it — available in a cycle.
I think the challenge is that if you get a fundamental change in markets to either lower, like way lower — like, actually, what's happened on the coast where prices have fundamentally, structurally shifted lower and alienated some stands almost permanently — or higher, if you got a permanent shift of markets being that $400 lumber is your new normal instead of $300, you would have an expansion overall to the land base. You're right. We haven't factored in that kind of predicting a bigger market in the future.
L. Pedersen: I would add, however, that you can examine…. And I think you have looked at what the extent of those underutilized or marginally merchantable stands is. That can be looked at, and it can be forecast in terms of how sensitive the timber supply forecast would be if those marginal stands contributed. I think that does merit consideration. I think it should be looked at with respect to what the extent is of those marginally merchantable types in each of the areas.
D. Peterson: If I could….. I hesitate to say it's a piece of clarification, because it adds a whole other piece, but one of your premises was that when we're talking mid-term, we're mainly talking about how economics could change the green volume. Actually, there's a greater opportunity to change the economics of the dead trees, and if you can be harvesting dead trees for longer, you actually preserve a lot of green volume. So the economics are just as important, or probably more important, around the dead timber than they are around the future economics of the green. So it's not just green, by any means.
E. Foster: I think, to go further to Harry's point, and this requires, I guess, a whole change in the philosophy of how we determine stumpage…. When you talk about the marginal stands, and if you put your travel distance in as one of the factors, and it certainly is — you know, $1.25 for fuel….
We develop the stumpage rates. We just base it…. We do our quarterly stumpage rates based on the prices over the last number of months. That stand…. If it's really close and the stumpage keeps going up, that wood never becomes viable. I think I'm just kind of adding to what Harry is saying. You know, if we factor in those things…. I mean, essentially, it becomes a fuel subsidy that's offered by B.C. Timber Sales, but it does give an opportunity for some of those stands that are made marginal by their distance. They're outside the price point.
In the whole picture, if there's enough of that out there, and you keep a shift in a mill running, it's worth the buck a metre or the 50 cents a metre or whatever is factored into the stumpage price. I just think that it's something that needs to be looked at. It may not, but I know that there comes a point where you just can't put the stuff on the truck because it costs too much to get it to the mill.
I just think that it's something that should be considered when we're looking at these mitigation things, even in the short term, if we're looking at trying to utilize more of the dead timber. The straw that broke the camel's back is the distance. Having said that, if we're down to two-bit stumpage, you can't go any lower.
G. Loeb: And in most of these areas with the dead pine, you're in negative-indicated rates already.
B. Routley: Well, it is a very important discussion, because some of the studies that I've seen…. For example, Russ Taylor of the International Wood Group has talked about a supercycle as early as 2015, and really, that's the same time as the major drop-off that we're talking about here. So maybe some of that information ought to be brought into this process, as well, because it does change what's economically viable in a dramatic way.
I mean, I was there in 1997. It was the year that I remember Herb Doman, along with TimberWest, buying Pacific Forest Products and suddenly the market collapsed. They went from $900 a thousand before — hemlock baby squares being sold into the Japanese market — down to 300 bucks overnight. They really haven't recovered since 1997.
If the surge goes the other way, and if we start to see…. I mean, it will. Everything that I've read about the world timber supply…. You've had illegal harvesting. You've had disease, fire, pests of all sorts all over the world.
The world wood supply basket is going to shrink, and that's what Russ Taylor talks about. As a result of the shrinking wood-supply basket at the same time as the economics in the United States and elsewhere starts to improve, the surge is going to be brought on essentially by a combination of reduced fibre supply and an improved market.
If we ever got back to where the U.S. market was at one point, there's just no way we would be able to…. The world couldn't supply all of the needs, because the fibre supply is just so badly impacted. Malaysia is turning their forests into beans, or whatever it is.
K. Kriese: There is an upward pressure. Maybe one of the things we could do is see if we could do at least our best estimate of what that…. If lumber prices did have a significant increase and we could characterize that, what that might…. It's a bit of a guessing game, but we could probably run a scenario around that.
J. Rustad (Chair): That would certainly be interesting to look at. Of course, when you start talking about the potential for the uptick in timber prices…. And I happen to be one of those people that believe we are going to see a significant cycle over the next decade or two in terms of that.
But you also have to take into consideration where the price points of alternatives in construction…. So what will level out, what those potential gains can be. How does that change the supply mix once that starts coming on? There are all kinds of things that feed into that.
But I think what might be interesting is…. Dave Peterson, in a presentation to our committee on the bioeconomy, gave a very interesting explanation about the timber supply that kind of looked like a circle. Of course, everybody wants what's the small circle in the middle, because that's the most economic.
The timber supply is the larger circle, and economics can make that circle a little bit bigger. It might be interesting to see what that little bit bigger might be under some different scenarios, as an exercise as we go through the overall process down the road.
A. Nussbaum: Not to put too many concepts on the table before we've gone through the discussion, because I think it'll really spawn some of this, but it's interesting. Inside the circle are stands that are currently economically viable. There are also stands in that same circle — you know, sort of the timber supply…. They're not necessarily inside the timber supply. They're not available to the model to harvest yet because they don't have the volume.
The beetle has created a tremendous number of what I would call submerchantable stands. They're not wiped out, but they are less operable than they were. Once the pine becomes unusable in those stands, they're less operable than they were before the infestation.
Let's say we have a stand that originally had 200 cubic metres, 100 cubic metres was eaten, and there are 100 cubic metres remaining of non-pine and a little bit of green pine — 100 cubic metres. If can operate on 100 cubic metres inside the THLB, as defined over the economic cycle, then that contributes to mid-term. If we can't operate on 100 cubic metres, because we didn't have to in the past or the milling technology and the way it's set up has never got used to that diet, then it's excluded. So it's a very fluid line.
What I want to say is that you're going to see some forecasts in here that show tremendous gains from moving into lower-volume stands. The reason they do is because we have more than we had historically. Inside the THLB this stand would have been 200 cubic metres before. Now if we can operate it at 100, then we're going to get it, and if we can't, we don't.
E. Foster: You're talking about 100 metres per hectare.
A. Nussbaum: Yeah, 100 cubic metres per hectare. Sorry.
What I'm saying is that the beetle has created a whole level of submerchantable stands that we never saw before. So if we can operate in them, we get huge benefits. If we can't, we get huge penalties.
We'll see more of that. You'll see the sensitivity to operating on the margin, because the beetle has created a tremendous number of marginal stands.
B. Stewart: Albert, further to the discussion we were having during the break, when you were talking about that. Before the pine beetle came in, these stands existed, and essentially, because there were other, more economical stands, they'd harvest those and just ignore these.
Now what we've got is the reverse. The merchantable timber that used to be there is gone, and essentially, these clusters are all over. The problem is getting access to them. Is that the economic issue in harvesting those?
A. Nussbaum: In my mind, what it is, is you're now…. Let's say that originally this stand would have been harvestable at 200 cubic metres. They might have actually harvested it when they got a chance. It was a good stand, an old-school stand of 200 cubic metres.
What happens is the beetle comes by and takes 100 cubic metres of it. Now you have to do what Eric suggests. You've got to drive three hours or four hours — cycle time, you know — to pick up a stand that only has 100 cubic metres in it. Yeah, that's the tricky part. Can you still make a buck doing 100 cubic metres when, traditionally, from that stand you would have got 200? That's the tricky part, because now you've got to go the same distances but for less volume. That's the way I would describe it.
A Voice: Which drives up your costs.
K. Kriese: I think one thing is that for forest harvesting economics, there are two factors, aside from travel distance, that make a stand economic. It's volume per hectare, because with your skidders and all your other things, the more volume there is, the more efficient they are.
The second is piece size. Basically, bigger pieces are more economic to harvest on the same stand. A major factor is that with some of your fixed costs, like roads and so on, if there's more volume to write off against them on a per-hectare basis, it's economic. Decreasing the overall volume just makes some stands marginal.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you for that.
And I also want to just thank Hansard for their ability in trying to keep up with the general conversation as it goes back and forth, because sometimes it can be difficult to pick up who's saying what and how it does. I know they do their best, and I just wanted to say thank you to Hansard for that.
Unless there are any other questions, Kevin, why don't we start on some details? Let's get into the meat.
K. Kriese: We'll try. One of the most topical…. We'll jump into the timber constraints. We're going to talk about the substance of the potential options. One of the things I want to emphasize is that the whole exercise was designed to show what the size of the opportunity is, as well as what some of the trickies are around it, substantively. One of the things we haven't really talked about is the process by which you do this.
In particular, on this one, the way that you go about making changes and the way you engage people in changes often have more to do with how well they're received than the substance of it. It's very important, particularly in the context of B.C. — the process by which the dialogue happens on these kinds of things. I want to make sure we emphasize that right off the top.
Visual quality objectives. I think everyone knows what they are. In fact, there are lots of them out there. Some management units have more than others, sort of depending on their history and their factors. If you've got a high tourism industry, you tend to have more of them. If you go to a place like Kamloops, there are a lot more of them than there are, say, in the Morice, just because there are a lot more people out using the land base and so on.
The first point is sort of that visual quality objectives have a scale in terms of the degree of visual quality you're trying to retain. You get modification right up to retention and preservation. The point I want to make here is: most of the VQOs are actually inside the timber harvesting land base and are available for harvest. You simply modify the pace at which they're harvested. In other words, you slow it down and spread it out, in theory, over a rotation.
Interestingly enough, in theory, when we set those up, those would have very little impact on timber harvesting, on timber supply, because you just force the companies to go somewhere else, and eventually they'd come back there. When you actually model most of your VQOs in a normal forest management regime, when they were set up, particularly the partial retention VQOs have very minimal impact on timber supply.
Licensees don't like them, often, because it forces them to operate differently, so there are some operational costs sometimes. But from a timber supply perspective, they tended not to have a lot of implications.
That has changed a little bit with the beetle. If you force them to pace out their harvest, the stuff they would have harvested that's pine in decades 2 and 3 is no longer economically available. So there are some different impacts in terms of timber supply.
But the key thing to understand is that while VQOs can have a very large area impact — often tens and hundreds of thousands of hectares — that doesn't mean you're locked out of harvesting them. That's different than, say, some of the riparian areas we'll talk about and the wildlife tree patches we'll talk about, where they're essentially locked out of harvest. Therefore, their impacts are different.
J. Rustad (Chair): If I can…. Of course, visual quality objectives. There are also visual quality preservation areas. I don't know if you plan on touching on that later in the presentation.
K. Kriese: We didn't actually provide a summary for each management unit, but we could. Atmo is flipping through his technical reports. For each area, we can tell you how much is in a preservation VQO, a retention VQO, a partial retention and modification. What we've tended to do here is we're going to give you a rollup of reducing the VQOs or eliminating them, which combines the impact of all of those together. But if you want to get into each management unit and figure out which ones are where, we can do that as well.
J. Rustad (Chair): Yeah. The only reason why I ask specifically about that is that when it comes time for discussions, obviously there may be higher value from public input. I don't know for sure, but there may be around preservation areas, as opposed to partial or medium. So it's probably going to be worthwhile for us at some point to see a little bit more detail around what it means when we start discussing what some of those options could be around each of the components.
K. Kriese: That's right. And in each management unit it's different. So what we probably need to get is into this one. For example, I think in some of the areas there wouldn't be any preservation. There would be some retention and lots of partial retention. In other places it's a bit of a different mix.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): So just to understand, then, we have these different reserve areas, but they often overlap — right? So when you're talking about retention, you're talking about areas that could be for old-growth management or for a particular other…. Is that the case?
K. Kriese: Yes, there is lots of overlap between reserves, for sure. In many cases, for example…. I'll pick on the example you talked about. If an area has scenic values and there's a visual quality objective established, if it's partial retention and then we put an old-growth management area on it, the old-growth management area is more restrictive. There'd be no harvesting allowed.
If it's partial retention and no old-growth management area, you can harvest periodically in it over that period of rotation. Often they're combined where they're complementary, in order to reduce the overall impact. But some of them — for example, partial retention VQOs…. Because they don't have a lot of timber supply impact and an old-growth management area does, they're probably not combined very often. They might be, in some places. It would kind of depend on your landscape.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): And just to be clear, the practice has been over time that, as much as possible, where values that we're trying to protect are able to be clustered together and grouped together and have as little impact on the timber supply as possible, that has always been done — right?
K. Kriese: That's correct.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): That's across the board.
K. Kriese: Yes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): So when we're talking about these percentages on top of that, we're also talking about areas that could have other…. When we look at these individually, we could be talking often about the same area — right? A number of overlapping….
K. Kriese: That's exactly right. I think that's part of it. When you go through each one, we'll describe to you sort of the analysis results when you peel off that constraint. But then what is critical is that if you add up…. If you peel them off individually, and depending on which order, or if you do them all together as a basket, you'll get a different number. As you say, you could take this off, but this constraint remains. Therefore, it doesn't give you the same impact.
We'll present the composite scenarios that show what they add up to when you do them all, potentially, together.
D. Peterson: But when we're doing the analysis itself, Atmo and the analyst can tell you that if you take out just the VQO constraint, that will only then say: "Here's the impact that comes from the ones that aren't constrained for other purposes."
When you're on the ground, looking at an area, it might have old-growth values. It might have riparian as well. But when we're looking within the analysis system — like these numbers here in the second-to-last bullet that says, "Removing the VQO constraints does something to mid-term timber supply" — that's saying that's only from the areas where there's no other constraint.
L. Pedersen: It's not inadvertently throwing out the old-growth value, in other words. The analysis technique ensures that it's always met.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. So just to understand…. I mean, that's useful. That's actually what I was asking. So the 5 percent — that figure, then, doesn't interfere with overlapping constraints? And then it also presumes that having done that, even though there is partial harvesting in many of these areas, you would get this additional amount with the new practices and such.
A Voice: That's right.
H. Bains: These numbers that you just mentioned there. They consider all of that, and then you came up with this 5 percent, 3 percent, 2 percent. There are no other constraints, and this is what's…? Okay.
A. Nussbaum: The other thing to remember is: what is it a percent of? We went through this, this morning. You've always got to understand what the denominator is. And the denominator here is the mid-term timber supply that we touched on in that graph earlier.
For Lakes, it's 500,000. So 5 percent…. What does it say here for Lakes?
A Voice: Nothing.
A. Nussbaum: Nothing for Lakes. So there's zero of 500,000. And then if you look at Williams Lake, I think it's 1.9. So the percentage you see here is relative to that base, and you've got to make sure you remember that. It's not to today's base.
A. Prasad: It's a percentage of the mid-term timber supply.
A. Nussbaum: Yeah, it's percent of mid-term timber supply, Atmo.
J. Rustad (Chair): So 5 percent in Quesnel, and Quesnel will end up being 1.15, so you'd be talking about, about 55,000 cubic metres per year on a…. Is that on a sustainable basis through mid-term supply, then?
A. Prasad: Per year.
J. Rustad (Chair): Per year.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): If I may. Some of the information that you gave…. I really appreciated the one-sheet information on some of these things. There's a point, just the final point. Just so that you know what I'm talking about, it's the mid-term timber supply resource values assessment. It's this. It says: "Not managing for values such as visual quality could also see forest companies lose their forest certification, which could negatively impact access to some markets for their forest products."
What I don't really understand is how the certifications work, in the sense that I thought they were primarily going after environmental goals and things like that. How, if we're retaining old-growth values, is the certification…? How much of the certification is social values? Maybe you could just have a quick explanation for that and why it was added as a point or something that the committee had to be mindful of.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: I would address it. That's why we provided you, in the package you got yesterday, a separate one for certification, because the members had asked for that. If you read that, it does indicate that the certification body is mainly looking to what the legislative framework is where the companies operate. There is room for some modification, as long as they sustainably operate and so on and so forth.
Perhaps, in my mind, that is a bit more pointed than is probably actually the case. I don't see it as a significant risk immediately, if you just kind of operate around the edges. Let's put it that way.
K. Kriese: I understand, as the companies have explained it to me, that if we just holus-bolus went out and eliminated visual quality objectives without appropriate due process — consideration of the other values and so on — they would put their certification schemes at risk, because they have a public advisory component and a social choice component and so on.
If you do it in a considered way and you've actually talked to people and you've worked through the social-choice process and come out with a considered, thoughtful response at the end, certification schemes usually would respect that.
I think it's more of a: "Yeah, you can make changes, absolutely." They were established through social choice in the beginning, and they could be changed through that. But to simply say that we're just not going to pay attention to them anymore would create a risk with respect to their markets and their certification schemes.
D. Peterson: I think it's actually a good segue question. When we start talking about some of the other values, visual quality — and I think this is what you're getting to — really, essentially, is a social choice. Where you get into some of the other things like riparian areas, wildlife, etc. — and there are some huge environmental values there as well — certification schemes would raise a question if your social choice started intruding on those environmental values.
But in the case of visual quality objectives, where it's a social choice, what we want, then, as Kevin says, if there's a due process that comes to a conclusion around that social choice, certification schemes will accept that, one way or another. But certainly, when we get into some of the others, there are some essential, underlying environmental values that are significantly different than a pure visual quality objective.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. I guess the other part of that is while you have certification, which has an economic impact, of course, since it's public land, we also have to consider the social licence, which is part of what we're receiving when we get the letters that we're receiving from different groups that look at their interests and the possibility that it could be impacted.
That social licence we also have to think of — I think that was really emphasized in the land use planning presentation that we had, about making sure that we get the social licence right.
K. Kriese: Turning to the slides, then, there are a couple of slides in here that I want to emphasize. Once this whole concern started to arise about mid-term timber supply, we did get, as a ministry, requests to specifically look at visual quality objectives in some management units. So there has been technical work advanced.
I know in the area I work in, both in the Lakes and Prince George timber supply areas, they've actually identified from an operational perspective which visual quality objective areas are scenic areas that the licensees believe are most of a concern, where they actually have a real potential impact on the ground.
There's actually work already underway, and in some cases there has been public consultation around some proposed changes. That work has been slowed down right now, sort of waiting for where the overall picture is going to go, but there is some work that's already underway with respect to visual quality.
I think that other piece to really get into is: what's the punchline? That's the second-to-last bullet point, which is that removing the visual quality objectives gets you the potential — and this is sort of the way we characterize it — largest possible gain. Whether that's the end result or not is the question for the public process, and the process at this table is whether you get that far or not.
The largest possible gains would be 5 percent, 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in Quesnel, Prince George and Williams Lake. In the case of the Lakes the reference forecast, which was developed because the work was already underway and already included removal of visual quality, was, if I remember the gross numbers, at most about 10,000 cubic metres a year, or somewhere in that range.
A. Prasad: It's about that, yeah.
K. Kriese: So it's a relatively small amount.
A. Prasad: The way we modelled the Lakes, the visual quality areas were already contributing to timber supply.
K. Kriese: That decision hasn't…. You could add, if you changed our reference forecast, that Lakes would probably be in that 2 percent category. Again, that comes back to the point that visual quality tended not to be a really big change driver, because in Kwinitsa, Lakelse — the areas I'm familiar with — a lot of it is this partial retention visual quality objective, where logging is acceptable, but we just don't want to see it big and crazy. We want to see it done appropriately, in sensitive design and so on.
That kind doesn't have as much impact as, say, moving to a retention VQO, which really does start to constrain timber supply. For good reasons, we tended to shy away from establishing retention VQOs, particularly in areas like the Lakes where there isn't…. It's not Whistler, you know, as a comparison.
J. Rustad (Chair): If I can just ask, then. The percentages that you provided there, as you said, that's post–pine beetle. So I'm assuming those percentages are in green stands of pine only and have already excluded low-volume stands, those types of other things that would not currently contribute towards the AAC for the mid-term?
A. Prasad: That's right, yeah.
J. Rustad (Chair): There may be objectives that would overlap in potentially low-volume stands. So whenever we're looking at low-volume stands, there may be overlapping issues around those sorts of things.
A. Prasad: That's right.
A Voice: Yeah, good point.
D. Peterson: Then one other piece. Again, I'm trying to help you, because you will need to reconcile — as we talked the other day as well — some of the other input you get when you get to some communities. This, yes, is the potential impact to mid-term timber supply, but you will probably hear from some people that there could a much greater increase in very short-term economic timber supply.
Some of these areas could have, right now, tied up some of the last little pieces of economic timber before they reach their shelf life, and it falls off. You could hear, and you probably will hear, some people or some licensees talking about a potential very short-term opportunity much greater than these kinds of numbers. And it's for that reason.
J. Rustad (Chair): If I could, then, just for clarification. There may be some components of this that the committee will be looking at. One of the possible options, I guess, that could be considered is that in the areas that are dead, where there is still some economic value, a change over the short term in some of those constraints could actually mean not a delay of going into some green wood, because you're able to access more of that fibre economically over a short period of time, which then would have a positive impact over the mid-term fibre supply by a small percentage, I suppose, as you carry it over a 20-year period.
D. Peterson: Right. So it's probably those same numbers that are there. It's still a 5 percent in the Quesnel TSA impact on mid-term timber supply, but it could mean continuation of an existing harvest level for another two years in a community, or something like that, which is significant from a community short-term perspective but not necessarily for mid-term timber supply overall.
J. Rustad (Chair): Well, I would assume that would have a little bit of impact because you would also have some of that mid-term that you'd be able to carry over that period of time, as opposed to having to get it through right away.
D. Peterson: Which is the piece that's really reflected, then, in those percentages.
J. Rustad (Chair): Yes.
K. Kriese: Not to make it more complex, but I'll dive into one issue that I still haven't understood fully. This might be a bit of everyone trying to understand the situation as well. We hear a lot from operational foresters, that, "This would really help us a lot if we were to reduce that," because their job is to find wood right now, a five-year kind of horizon. When we look at it, we say: "Well, there is actually not a lot of long-term benefit from that."
As I understand it, one of the reasons for that is that if you free up that particular, let's say, hillside, and you allow them to go in and harvest that pine, the problem is they're not harvesting some pine somewhere. They simply can't, because we have dead pine that's accruing in the land base, and our milling capacity and our logging capacity are not large enough to get all the dead pine. So if you open up that hillside, what they'll do is they'll get that dead pine, but they won't log some other dead pine somewhere else.
It doesn't create a long-term timber supply benefit. It's good for them operationally. They are able to get at that stand instead of a different stand more remotely, but then that stand can't be got before it disappears in terms of its shelf life. What you end up doing is displacing. Instead of that hillside having grey pine, it has a clearcut or an opening, and that other stand somewhere else has the grey pine.
That's an issue that becomes…. When you move from operational focus and what the operational foresters see, when you roll it up into a complex landscape, there are issues like that that seem…. And they get mad at us over this, because they get very frustrated and say: "You just don't see it." We go: "Well, actually we do, but we're looking at it from a forest level and not an individual operational-stand level.
That's not always the case. Sometimes there are cases where it does produce both the operational benefit and the long-term benefit. But sometimes when you hear the criticism, that we're not seeing it, it's because there are two lenses. There's that long-term forest management lens, and there's a short-term. So I just want to….
A. Prasad: The other point is that on those VQ areas, most likely they are closer to town, so it's cheaper for them to harvest that dead pine rather than the dead pine 50 miles away.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just to Dave Peterson's point, then, around how this could potentially extend the amount of time that you could be in the pine beetle, the key would be the timing, then, of the release and the ability to go into that fibre when other fibre was no longer economical, as opposed to just saying, "We're opening it up now." They go into it now because they can get a better profit margin now. The other wood would still end up not being economical down the road because of deterioration and distance and those sorts of things.
A Voice: Absolutely.
J. Rustad (Chair): Got you. Thanks.
K. Kriese: Okay, so that's the visual quality objectives.
The next one, old-growth management areas, is trickier. There is a lot of variability in the province around how old-growth management areas are delivered. We talked about that, how some areas have spatial old-growth management areas. There are provincial orders, there are provincial aspatial orders, and there are local aspatial orders, meaning not on the map. Aspatial — it's a number and a target.
It's also one of the ones that becomes…. Out of all of what I'll call land use objectives that came in under the Forest Practices Code, there were really three or four big ones that were part of what I'll call the environmental suite of values that were mandatory across the province. There were quite a few that were discretionary. But the mandatory ones, the riparian, stand-level biodiversity….
This is one of the ones that was sort of the keystone of the province's mandatory approach to sustaining biodiversity. A lot of the other ones are sort of: well, if you can afford it, maybe you can do that. It's kind of more of a local choice. It's a lot more uneven. But this was seen as one of the critical ones to maintaining your social licence and to having a suite of forest management options across the landscape.
Because it was one of the ones that was delivered everywhere and because it tends to be what I'll call a constraint to allow much harvesting — it's essentially a no-harvest option, at least for a long period of time — 120, 140 years — it was also used to deal with a lot of other issues, local issues that were not captured elsewhere in the sort of mandatory regime.
An example would be: in some places they've placed their old-growth management areas over top of First Nations sensitive sites. So if a First Nation comes up and says, "Hey, I've got this really important campsite" — or whatever it is, culturally modified trees, whatever that happens to be — you have a budget of these essentially reserve areas. You can say, "Well, without further affecting timber supply, we can take that budget of old growth, place it on top of your issue and resolve your issue," and therefore, you're satisfied with the overall landscape of how forest management works.
That's how we used to say, that if you look at the big picture in a landscape, you see the whole area. Yes, we're harvesting, but we also have this system of reserves around old growth, cultural features and so on that makes them say: "Okay. Well, I can see how that pattern looks after my issues, and therefore, it's okay to harvest on the rest of the landscape."
The old growth, because of that sort of history, is one of the most complex. Deconstructing it isn't that easy to do. What we have done for the scenarios we've got is we took a look at what are some of the potential ways you could change the old-growth order. As I said, there are different ways it was applied, so there are obviously different ways where you could change it.
You could either go from a spatial order to an aspatial order, or you could go from certain kinds of rules around how old growth was created. There are all sorts of interesting things like the ecology of old-growth changes. In some cases they took the provincial thing and said: "Well, it makes more sense for this age to apply, because we think that's more locally relevant." There are lots of differences. You could also move away from some of those differences.
The punchline on this one is that in each of the areas we modelled, in the case of the mid-term…. In the Quesnel it was 11 percent potential gain if you remove the requirement for old, 16 percent in Prince George, 11 percent in Williams Lake and 7 percent in the Lakes. That sort of gives you an idea of the variability. It's almost double, in terms of the potential gain, between the Lakes and, say, the Prince George TSA. That's because they were applied differently, and they have a different forest management structure.
The other one that's interesting is that in some of these, in some cases, you get a big increase in the short term, but it actually doesn't really change your long term, which is kind of fascinating in terms of the forest structure.
In the case of Prince George, it doesn't really have much impact in terms of your long-term harvest level. It doesn't go up, but it really has a bigger impact in the mid-term. Again, that comes back to just the way that the current forest estate is structured.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just to that point, I'm assuming the reason why it doesn't impact on the long term is obviously because it will deteriorate over time. As it renews and those components of it…. That's why there isn't that impact on the long term — I'm assuming.
K. Kriese: You know, I couldn't figure out why it didn't impact the long term.
A. Prasad: In Prince George, yeah. As you harvested…. In Prince George it's a non-spatial old-growth order. So there are other areas that grow that are not old now, but they will be old in 50 or 60 years, and that takes that place, whereas in areas where you have old-growth management areas, those still remain. So they will have a long-term impact — I mean, if we logged the non-pine in that OGMA. Now, it's not old growth, and there is no other thing to take its place, so it has to wait 250 years or whatever before it becomes old growth again.
B. Stewart: Well, not being a forester, I'd like to just get you to kind of go back to the basics about: what is old growth? You've talked about how they came about. I guess I'm just of the opinion that forest health….. Over time, as they get older, there is a deterioration in the fibre. Is it a case that it's just protected, and it's never harvested?
A. Prasad: Old-growth management areas are never harvested.
B. Stewart: I'm just asking: what's the benefit then, and what's the purpose?
K. Kriese: If you go back, the whole origin of this was around the challenge to B.C.'s environmental management and the whole idea that if you're going to manage a forest estate for non-timber values — particularly biodiversity in this case, but biodiversity and habitat — you need to try and mimic the natural regime. There are a lot of species who need what we'll call old-growth characteristics to survive. They tend to be things like cavity-nesting birds. There are all sorts of things.
The evidence is pretty clear that a lot of those species will be less frequent on the land base as your amount of old growth goes down. It's most particularly prevalent on the coast, where you had ecosystems that were virtually all old growth at some point in time. They didn't have much disturbance.
The way that old growth is portrayed in the province depends on the ecosystem you're in. Every ecosystem had some old growth. In some cases our biodiversity expert, Allan, picked on some of our ecosystems like the pine-dominated, fire-dominated ecosystems. Old growth would have been a smaller component of the natural ecosystem, and our management objectives already have smaller old-growth targets to reflect that. On the coast the targets are much higher because there was a lot more old growth natural on the landscape.
Fundamentally, from a biodiversity perspective, our protected areas look after some of the old-growth requirements, but in the rest of the managed landscape, the theory is that if you have some old-growth persistent over time, you will retain those species that require old growth. If you eliminate it, you're going to start to put our biodiversity at risk, and there will be species that struggle to survive in a managed landscape.
B. Routley: What percentage of this old growth is pine that's dead or dying, or is any of it?
A Voice: Some of it is.
D. Peterson: It's probably roughly equivalent to that graph earlier that said, by each TSA, what percentage of pine is dead. The beetle went into all the OGMA stands just the same way they went into any others. It's probably the same.
In fact, and this is kind of part of Ben's question, we then have a lot of dead old-growth management areas, which some people nickname as DOGMAs. But depending on the percentage of trees that are actually killed there, they can still have a lot of those ecological values that you're looking for in an old-growth management area anyway. They can still have some trees that are standing for cavity nesters, etc.
You can actually still have, in a lot of these dead pine stands, the ecological values that you're looking for in an old-growth management area, even once the beetles have hit them — not all of them. If you have a stand that was very even-age pine and all of those trees are dead, once they all fall over, then they probably don't contribute those ecological old-growth values.
Those are relatively minor. Most of the stands that you would see still have the kind of essential ecological values that you're looking for — uneven-aged stands, trees fallen over, etc. — for land use.
A. Lidstone: A point of clarification. Old-growth management areas never were designed to be no-logging areas. It depends on the objectives. Old-growth management areas do allow harvesting. I think in the Cariboo, for example, they've come up with some innovative approaches to allow some logging to account for mountain pine beetle within old-growth management areas.
A lot don't. Most don't, or allow it under certain conditions — say, if there's no other practicable alternative to road access, they will allow some logging to account for that. Some units, some old-growth management areas, have actually been quite innovative in allowing some logging for old growth.
K. Kriese: If you meet the ecological objectives, which is around that whole kind of structure and function for the biodiversity that you're trying to maintain. It's kind of a design thing.
H. Bains: I'm looking at the VQO on OGMA, and one of the bullets suggests removing the VQO or removing the requirement for old-growth increases by a certain percentage. Are we talking about removing it completely? How do you meet that biodiversity objective if the OGMA is completely removed? Why is it even one of the options?
K. Kriese: Certainly, what we've identified in the exercise was to sort of develop the range of options. I think you rightly characterized that this would be the maximum potential option. There's lots of room in the middle — which is really part of the question of what the process is and how you decide how much change to old-growth management would be logical when you consider the other values.
You're right. Removing them would have impact on the biodiversity values, but it would also have this kind of benefit to timber. That's the question today.
H. Bains: It is mandated to have the biodiversity in those areas, isn't it? Is there a legislative mandate that requires it? If that is required through the legislation, why is this even considered as maximum? Because it isn't realistic.
A. Lidstone: Some of the old growth is mandated through legal orders. For example, where a land use plan has developed objectives around the old growth or biodiversity and those have been given legal effect, then yes, there is a current legal requirement. In other cases it's a matter of policy, so applying government policy around what we call our Landscape Unit Planning Guide, biodiversity targets. It establishes government policy.
In terms of aspatial targets, for example, then they are more or less developed under policy. It gets a little tricky because they can get legal when they're incorporated into a forest stewardship plan. It gets a little complex, but the basic targets for old growth — for example, under the aspatial order — are derived first in policy. I'm working through this now here. When the aspatial order also does give it legal effect….
K Kriese: I think at the end of the day, the point is: there was a social choice to put them into place. And there can be a social choice to change them, either through the land use plans or….
J. Rustad (Chair): Sorry. Just to that…. Sorry for cutting off the conversation on this. I understand the point you're making.
One of the things that is our mandate is to actually look at areas requiring change to legislation and our key implementation tools, if that's what we decide to do.
Remember that today's discussion isn't what we should do or shouldn't do. Today's discussion is: what are all the options? We go out there for consultation around those options. We may not like the options. Or maybe we do like the options. Ultimately, we get the feedback, and then we will have some discussions around what the reality is of those options.
I take your point around, you know, why we are considering — for example, in the Prince George supply area 16 percent…. Why is that a consideration if we still want to be able to retain some old-growth management values? Those would be the types of things that we would have in a discussion after we finish with the input through the process.
H. Bains: Fair enough. For my own purpose, in order to get there, I need to know what the real numbers are and where, realistically, we can get to — not what's out there which is not achievable. Even through legislation it will be…. You can change anything, if you want, as a government. There's a responsibility that comes with it, when you have legislation.
One of them is to meet our biodiversity requirements. If that is the case, I really would like to know what, realistically, is available in OGMA. It's been said that we do allow some logging in there. How much extra logging can be allowed while at the same time keeping our biodiversity and social responsibility and social licence intact?
J. Rustad (Chair): I'm going to interrupt again on this because that gets to the question of what we will be doing when we discuss the options.
Right now I believe what the ministry is trying to do is say: "This is the maximum possible that is available." When we go into some discussions around that, obviously, if we make a decision that that's the maximum and we want to accept that, there are consequences around that. We'll have to understand those consequences when that time comes. If it's some number less than that, then those are discussions that we will have later in the process around this.
Remember, this is just: what is the art of possible? Not from a perspective of meeting certification or other types of requirements that we're looking at on the land base.
There's no question that this is a complex process. This is not an easy question that we're being asked to take on as a committee.
H. Bains: Just give me one more…. At that point will that expertise be available to guide us through?
J. Rustad (Chair): Yes. We as committee have the ability to ask for witnesses to come forward and make presentations on those particular types of questions, so that is something that we would be able to do during our discussions around that.
I've got Norm on the list for questions, but I want to interject with a question here first.
Similar to the line that Harry had asked, when you're talking about old-growth management areas and having those values within a land base, you know, for nesting birds or for other types of wildlife and biodiversity that we have on the land base that we want to keep, could that be achieved through other means?
For example, instead of old-growth management areas, you have a target amount and so as other stands grow up, they can replace the stand that could be available and those sorts of things. And I know that some of those are targets already on the land base, as opposed to areas. So there may be other ways to be able to achieve…. The reason why I bring that forward and ask that question is that there may be other ways to be able to achieve the goals that are stated, which would free up some of that fibre through a process.
K. Kriese: I certainly think you're right. If you go back to what Allan's point was, there's an ecological objective behind it, and we've turned that into some rules. You can, in some places, go back to what the ecological objective was and see whether or not there's a different way of accomplishing that that has some more flexibility. You know, they use the concept of structure and function.
So you can have an objective that says, "As long as you maintain this kind of structure and function, you could go in," and the best case would be partial harvesting of some type, and go and do it. In the past that wasn't considered either because it was uneconomic, it was inconvenient, or sometimes it's just too complex. But there's certainly room to explore, and I think in some cases they are looking at whether or not you can have a different way of achieving the underlying objective that has some side benefits, too, on the economic side, while still maintaining your fundamental value.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just a couple of questions. First, I'd actually like to hear Harry's questions answered, because part of what we're doing is putting in front of communities a set of options. I think anybody who comes to those meetings will have a sense that these are real options, when in fact…. On this issue Harry's question is pretty pertinent. Like, would you actually ever do this? And if we're not ever going to do it, then, why would you put it in front of a community as a realistic option?
I mean, from what I understand and what you've said, you've tried to manage these, especially in the Prince George area, aspatially — right? — for the most part, other than areas that are really specific, around Cariboo and other things.
So are we seriously going to go into Cariboo and into those areas? And if we're not, then, why would we put it in front of a community and give them the sense that…? So I'd be interested in hearing that. I think you live with this, and you have a view. So in that way I'd like to hear what the answer is for Harry's question.
The other thing is that in 2009 the Forest Practices Board did some work on old-growth management. Here you'd be far more familiar with it than I am, but what I picked up is that it was being done in many areas aspatially. Is that right? They were saying that with salvage logging, you're going into those areas already, so what you've identified as retained, are they really retained? It seemed to me that that was part of what the Forest Practices Board was getting at.
What you often hear is that what was identified in 2009 has actually gotten worse. So, on the ground, do we actually know that it has been retained? Have the values that are supposed to be protected in that old-growth management work — are they actually there and protected? Or are we in a place where we've identified 15 percent, but it's more theoretical than real?
I'm sure you have a strong sense of that, but I'd be interested in just the response to what the Forest Practices Board identified. Then, if I've misunderstood that report or how widespread the issue they identified was, which is possible, I'd be interested in hearing that too.
D. Peterson: I'll do the first half of that question, because this is actually a piece that we would get back to again when we get to what Kevin called…. Earlier in the presentation he talked about "composite scenarios," where you put them all together. So when we look at the detail for the Lakes TSA and the Quesnel TSA, you can actually see where the local staff did try and say: "What's a reasonable amount of old growth?"
For instance — and this is the same presentation package — in the Quesnel TSA they said: "Only go into the zones that have been, within the land use plan, called 'enhanced resource development' or 'integrated resource development,' not into the zone that's special." So they actually did try and say: "What's a more reasonable attempt at revisiting old-growth management areas?"
That gets really difficult. I know I was part of those conversations and sitting in the rooms, and it's really hard then to say: "What's our concept of reasonable?" But the short of it is that for some of the TSAs, yes, an attempt was made to do exactly that. You'll see that later in the package.
K. Kriese: I think the whole premise of this was also that our analysis would be to inform a social choice discussion, because it really, ultimately is a trade-off — your risk to biodiversity and your risk to communities — and we haven't engaged in a public dialogue around that, so we felt, you know, this is really to say: "Here are the boundaries." Now you need to have that public discussion through forums like this to see where you would lie in between it.
There are some other scenarios underneath each of these areas, where they looked at: "Well, what if…?" You might see us present in Prince George where we're presenting sort of the outer boundary. They also did, I think, two or three scenarios to say, "Well, instead of going to that outer boundary, what if you did this? You change the age," as an example.
Deeper underneath this we have things like "change the age." We have some other things. I'll talk to Prince George, and I'm familiar with it. We also have a licensee committee right now who is saying: "We know that going and simply turning off old growth isn't realistic." They believe that won't fly, and they believe it's probably not wise forest management and so on.
They're working and saying, your point: "Where are the spots in between where you could have a realistic benefit while still meeting the ecological objectives?" They're working, you know, through this process already to say what they think the answer would be. They're working on that, trying to find those sweet spots.
Ultimately, we tried to present in this analysis…. Here are, almost, the bookends so that you can say that we now need a social choice process in the middle as to how much risk you want to take between biodiversity and communities. That's where this process starts.
J. Rustad (Chair): I think, if I just may inject with that, you know, when we're going out to discuss with communities, we're asking them for…. We're not saying, "If we turn all of this off, here's what you're going to get for a gain," although that will be part of it, because they will ask the question: "What's the potential there?"
Old-growth management areas is one option we can look at. There is a variety of choices around how we would deal with something like that. "Here is the maximum that you would gain. There are other choices in between that can give you somewhat less. But give us your feedback and what your comments are, thoughts around old-growth management areas."
That's the type of discussion that I think we're having. This isn't a: "By the way, we have an option out here. We'd like you to comment about turning the entire thing off. It's going to give us 5 percent if we do that. By the way, if you aren't interested, you get zero." That's not what I'm looking at. At least, that's not my concept of how this process would work.
H. Bains: While we're at it, can I just add to what Norm…. VQO is a similar situation — right? Maybe you could have some answers on that as well when you're answering this question on old growth. How do we manage that, as well?
A. Nussbaum: I think what's missing in this discussion, though…. I think the reason we run scenario on and off is…. The question is: do we want to go into this Pandora's box at all — okay? You may go to communities, and they say: "For 11 percent in Quesnel, it's not on the table. That's not enough to go in there." That's the end of the story. What I'm saying is: by doing the bookends, you show that it isn't going to fix it by itself. It's going to add, you know…. If Quesnel is just over a million, it might add 100,000 cubic metres.
Do you want to go in at all? That is the theoretical maximum. If you want to go in there, obviously that's probably not your chosen choice. It won't exceed 11 percent. You're going to be talking…. If you start kind of like coming up with something that's less, it's clearly going to be less than 11 percent.
The reason this is run on and off is for the community to decide, actually, first whether that's enough to even entertain starting that conversation. Now, if 11 percent is enough, that's what you're going to be hearing. Is 11 percent enough as an extreme outer? Is that enough to start that conversation? Then they may turn around and say, "Well, you know, we would tolerate something," so that takes us down to like 3 percent.
My expectation is that if they do want to entertain it, you'll come back to us with some of that feedback. We'll run scenarios that show what they might consider, and it's going to be less than 11 percent. So just think about this as indicating: do we even want to pick up the rock, or does it just…? Given what's at stake, it's not enough to even pick it up. That's what I think these options were kind of highlighted to trigger. Do we want to start that conversation, or don't we?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): That's an interesting analogy, picking up the rock. The Forest Practices Board — any sense on that? Is it, again, beside the point, because we're talking about such a broad scenario?
K. Kriese: Was it the landscape-level data received?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): It misses the point. That's fine.
K. Kriese: With respect to old-growth management areas, our level of comfort on the licensees being able to meet our current targets is relatively high because their forest stewardship plans have to demonstrate that there is enough old growth in the landscape today.
You're right. They picked it up. In an aspatial world that stand might get harvested, but they still have to demonstrate to us, before their FSP is approved, that there is enough old growth out there.
I can say that we have landscape units, in Prince George in particular, where licensees are locked out right now of harvesting in that landscape unit because they have reached the threshold of the old-growth order.
So I know that it's working. Whether I can say that guaranteed, 100 percent, we're always meeting it down to the gnat's eyebrow — probably not. On the old-growth one, I don't think that's a huge risk.
I think some of the concerns were also around the stand-level biodiversity targets, because licensees were essentially identifying a stand as a wildlife tree patch. Then somebody else, because they're not legally designated, came on and harvested that one.
There's been some work out of the professional reliance regime and others to try and fill that gap. That one, I think, is more prevalent in terms of an issue than the old-growth one, but I'll look to my colleagues.
J. Snetsinger: John, could I add a few thoughts to that?
J. Rustad (Chair): Sure, Jim.
J. Snetsinger: I'll try and clarify it as best I can, Norm.
Back in 2005 when I was chief forester, I issued guidance, which is outside the statutory realm. But as chief forester, I knew we were in a situation of accelerated harvesting to salvage as much of the mountain pine beetle–killed timber as possible.
Basically, I talked about maintaining biodiversity at the landscape level and at the stand level and issued some guidance in that 2005 document, which again is not a legal requirement. They were things for professionals to consider as they were going about planning and carrying out their salvage activities.
What the Forest Practices Board did in 2009 was to go out and just see how well the licensees were doing in achieving the guidance that the chief forester had set out. It's been a while since I read the report, but I believe what they said was that the licensees were doing a good job at the stand level in maintaining biodiversity through wildlife tree patches, riparian — those kinds of things.
The opportunity that was potentially being missed was planning for additional retention at the landscape level, as per the guidance that I issued in 2005. I don't know if they said this in the report, but further to what Kevin was saying, they still have the legal requirements that they need to make through the provincial old-growth order or the TSA old-growth orders that are in place. They still have to meet that.
What the board was pointing out was the opportunity to do more collaborative landscape-level planning to meet additional, incremental old-growth or biodiversity management planning in the face of salvage harvesting.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you for that, Jim.
The next question I've got is from Bill, unless…. Eric, did you have something you wanted to add on this, or is yours a separate question?
E. Foster: No, go ahead.
B. Routley: I think what's becoming clear to me is that a lot of these timber constraints were part of the social licence and the outcome of going through the war of the woods, so to speak.
The concern that I have is the impact on workers and communities in the long run if we do open up, as somebody put it, Pandora's box or pick up the rock, or whatever. Is that going to have people rushing in, viewing British Columbia as dramatically changing.
We're even asked to consider legislative changes. Of course, as soon as you start doing that, there will be folks that would see this as watering down the social licence that was there.
All of these things are definitely hot button items — maybe not so much in a dead pine beetle region as they would be, say, on the coast of British Columbia. Even just the mention of old growth would certainly set off alarm bells to environmental groups all over B.C.
The other concern that I have is that there seems to be a mix of what's possible within the existing laws. For example, within VQOs there is the ability to make changes within the existing legislation. So we seem to have mixed, here, what's possible within the existing legislation and what would actually require new legislation or a new type of social contract, if you like. I do understand why somebody might want to talk to folks within a dead pine region and find out their point of view, because it is dramatic impact.
At the same time, why would we want to…? Yeah, anyway it's definitely a huge issue that we're dealing with. So could somebody tell me what percentage of these changes are possible within the existing legislation?
J. Rustad (Chair): Actually I'm going to answer that question a little bit, because we can get into some details around that, but I think that is work that has yet to be done by the committee after we do this. Remember, the goal of today is the art of the possible, not necessarily the art of the probable or whatever the case may be. So just to have on the table: what are all the potential options that we could be considering?
Then once we get some feedback around that, we'll have an opportunity to maybe delve in a little bit deeper in terms of what is possible within legislation and what would require legislative changes, if anything at all.
Obviously, Bill, with your comments about a social licence, that whole side of things…. All those types of things are what we will have to, as a committee, take into consideration when we ultimately come forward with recommendations — if any recommendations — as a group.
Obviously, we have to weigh that against what we heard earlier which is the potential for a loss of eight mills, I mean, to be blunt about it. So unfortunately, we have been asked to weigh out those values. That's something that we are going to have obviously to take very seriously when we go through, after the process of coming out of this, and make some recommendations.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Can we just hear Kevin's answer?
K. Kriese: I think, in terms of that, one of the things we could do is map out what legal steps are required to make the changes. I think we sometimes use terminology that may be confusing. For example, we use the term "legal order". Often those legal orders are vested in decision-makers that aren't in the legislation — i.e., a district manager can change visual quality objectives or old-growth management areas. It's a deputy minister, I think, on some of our wildlife habitat areas.
So we could go to each one of these and say: "Where is the decision-making authority vested to make amendments, or make changes?" Most of them are not in legislation, i.e., in the House. Most of them are vested somewhere down into the civil service in terms of implementing the direction that we've received through land use plans.
We could map that out as a future step for each one of these — where it sort of vests — in terms of the decision-making authority.
B. Routley: Just to follow up on what you just said about the eight mills. I don't think we're talking about a mitigation plan that's going to save all eight mills, realistically — are we?
J. Rustad (Chair): Well, I don't know what the extent of the options are that we're going to be looking at, so I don't have those answers. That's what's going to be presented today, and that's what we'll hear. Ultimately we'll have to look at that.
If the answer is that we don't want to do a whole lot, then perhaps that's where we'll be. If the answer is that there are many things that we're interested in doing, then obviously, it might be something less than that. I don't know what that answer is.
E. Foster: Then I get that what we asked you to do, you've done. Thank you very much for that.
One of the comments I would make…. I actually have a note here for when we get to riparian areas, but I think it's relevant to this as part of this conversation. These old-growth management areas…. Two questions — and I don't expect you to know each and every little one.
How large are they? Are they areas that have been retained after we've done…? I used the same question for the riparian areas. It says here that we have whatever number — 11 percent — in Quesnel. But if these are smaller areas that someone would have to redevelop, go back into, the economic viability of that then becomes a question.
If it's not economically viable, be it in the long term or even in the mid-term, it really is not relevant if we're talking mid-term timber supply. Has that been factored into this?
K. Kriese: In general, yes. You're right. First off, most of the old-growth management areas are big enough to be operationally viable. They tend to be at least tens of hectares, usually into the 50s and hundreds of hectares. So they're big enough.
A. Prasad: Usually hundreds of hectares. They have to have Interior forest conditions. I think the minimum is about, at least, 250 hectares.
K. Kriese: They tend to be bigger. But you're right. Anytime you do these things, there might be an operational place where it's stranded, for one reason or another, sometimes back into the valley, and they're not going to be in that valley, and there's not a bridge.
Occasionally — that's why I say generally — you can count on these being available. Operationally, there might be places and exceptions to the rule where they're physically not, but over the time frame we're talking about, you could probably assume the old-growth management areas are big enough that they could be used.
E. Foster: Okay. Just a quick follow-up on that. Then I'm going to go to Bill's comments, actually, from the other day and do them as well today. I think we need to have this discussion, certainly, today. If we as a group decide that going into old-growth management areas is not a viable option, then I don't think we should take it beyond the room. I say that because through the whole process, we have to weigh out whether we have the social licence.
As Bill said the other day, is the impact on the entire industry and the entire province going to be that negative because we are in old-growth areas that we probably shouldn't even be bringing it to the table over the next while? I think we need to have that discussion before we get too far out into the public with this, simply because we don't want that sort of mass media hysteria over asking a question.
I just say that because I think it is something that we need to weigh out. Some of the other ones not so much, but I think that certainly, the old growth is an issue that's looked at all over the world. I'm concerned with what Bill said the other day — that it could impact not just these areas we're discussing today but the industry in general across the province.
A. Nussbaum: There may be a perception out there that there's a lot more timber in old-growth areas available, and that's because there are a lot more old-growth areas out there than I think are factored into this analysis. Most of those are in the non-contributing land base. By design, they are not in the timber-harvesting land base.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just to that point. Remember, when these things were originally designed and set up, we had about 6 percent of our province in a park state. We now have about 15 percent in a park state. There has been a lot that has changed on the land base around meeting some of those biodiversity objectives from what it was back in the 1990s.
In addition to that, I also think…. Remember, this isn't an all-in-or-none type of thing. There are options around that in terms of trying to achieve some of those values, as we had talked about earlier.
I'd be hesitant to say as a group that we, at this particular point, should come to the decision of something in or out of a discussion when there is quite a bit of a process that needs to be gone through and lots of options that could be considered as part of our approach down the road, when we start determining what we want to consider for recommendations.
From that perspective, I would hope that we would keep our options open at this particular point, as we go through this, to look at what all the potentials are. Then we can have some discussion as to those particular values, concerns and where we can land.
I think if we started to get into those discussions today, first of all, the ministry staff that are present would not have all of the background information that we'd need to be able to into the depth in terms of the analysis and the impact and those sorts of things. Our experts could give us some opinions on it, but I also think that some of that would be more important to be able to make those kinds of decisions down the road. Just my thought on it.
H. Bains: As we are going through this process, I'm trying to gather as much information as possible. When we are there, if there are still clarifications or questions coming out of this, certainly, we'll ask those questions. But I think that as we go along, it's important that we get as much information as possible so that when we go into that room, we are at least equipped with some of the information or the key components of the information.
I'm looking at what Albert had mentioned — 11 percent. It's maybe 100,000. But when I'm looking at the four TSAs — Lakes, Prince George, Quesnel and Williams Lake — there is a potential here in this paper that was put together under the mid-term timber supply. Almost five million cubic metres additionally available, and all of that is part of the OGMA removal and the VQO removal and some of the others. So it's not just a minor little thing whether we want to get into that or not.
If there are five million cubic metres available, then certainly we want to talk about that — right? But if it's not realistic and this is something we will never do, never consider, then we need to know. I think that's why this information is pertinent for us to arrive and get into that room. Yes, we can ask more questions.
On this one alone, in Quesnel, you mentioned 11 percent, which is only 100,000. But overall, when you look at it, there are 400,000 cubic metres available in Quesnel. That's almost a sawmill — right? So it's very, very important. It's quite a significant amount that potentially is there. But I want to know — and I think all the committee members will want to know — if that is actually even available.
For example, the protected area. We won't go there. It's available, but we won't go there — right? The same thing is here, but that's not even considered here. Certain other areas are considered, but there has to be some reason why we are considering certain areas and not others. And how far can we go in there?
J. Rustad (Chair): If I may, just in terms of potential options…. And you're right. Maybe we won't want to go there. Maybe it's not feasible or possible, for a variety of reasons, to consider particular areas.
But one of the things…. I keep going back to some discussions I've had with First Nations before. They may consider an option in one particular area. What about a limited access in some park area as an offset to having other areas that would not be considered? So are there ways to be able to achieve the values that could be done?
I don't know the answer to those questions, but I'm just saying that those are questions that have been raised to me before this process started.
I don't know where it's going to go in terms of the discussion. It's going to be very interesting to see how all that could play out in terms of trying to achieve all of the values that we're talking about here on the land base and at the same time trying to access additional fibre in terms of mid-term. Like I say, it's going to be very interesting in terms of how all this goes.
H. Bains: I hear you. I'm there myself. All I want to know is…. I like Kevin's answer, at least on the old growth. He said: "Look, yes, there is a biodiversity component, but there are other ways to achieve that." That's the kind of information we need. If we are going in that direction, then, what options are there for us to achieve our social licence requirement at the same time as achieving what we are trying to do here?
That's the kind of information we need. I don't know whether this panel has that information or someone else will have it. If you don't have it, then we need to make arrangements so that we could get that information. If you have it, then I need to know that, at least for my own purpose.
K. Kriese: Maybe I'll speak to a bit of the process of that. First off, I think we're going to try and give you the rollups, or the composite scenarios, they give you. As you said, is A, B plus C big enough to open up the Pandora's box, so to speak? We'll get to that at the end of today.
I think one of the questions that we've struggled with is that our work has advanced fairly long on the timber side of things. When you get into trying to decide what the balance of risk is, we're still catching up on the non-timber values.
For example, on the biodiversity side, to really tease out…. The benefits to timber could be this, but where are you at with your biodiversity risk? We're still doing homework analytically to give that part of the equation, to tell you where that sweet spot would be.
It just gets very complex. You've got to bring in ecologists. You've got to look at every landscape unit as different. So we're not fully prepared yet. I think one of the questions will be: how quickly could we get prepared to facilitate?
We can give you some for each management unit — some assessments of here, where we think they…. If you don't want to go to the far end and you don't want to be here, what are some of the scenarios and some of the risks and trade-offs as you start to get into the alternate scenarios?
As we get deeper into this, we're starting to prepare. I think in Prince George we're well equipped. At some management units we're better equipped than in others to give you that kind of analysis inside.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Eric and Harry and Bill, it comes back to the question, too, of what we put in front of a community. I think you expressed it really well that process is important. You can put something in front of a community and make it the focus when really it's a more nuanced discussion.
I take Albert's point, which is a good one. Let's put in front of the community how much is available, and do you really want to open that Pandora's box?
Coming back to that Pandora's box, which is what we're all concerned about, it could become the focus of a discussion that doesn't help us get where we need to go.
I think, John, you've mentioned parks a few times, but my understanding is that the minister has been really clear that that's off the table. That's what he's said in public. That's my understanding. So we do set parameters for what's off the table.
I guess the question I have for you, just as professional foresters…. We now work under a system where, with professional reliance…. My understanding is that we're depending upon the professional code of foresters.
I know that government can make the rules it wants to make — right? Everything can be done or undone. But as a professional forester, where are the lines that you have in terms of the work that you do related to biodiversity, related to old-growth management? Where are the places that professional foresters simply cannot go in terms of that work? So separate from being a civil servant, but as a professional, what are the lines, the parameters, around that?
J. Rustad (Chair): Just before you answer that, because you've raised the question about what parks or no parks and those sorts of things, I just thought I'd re-read the terms of reference into the record, just so we know. What we've been asked to do is:
"Recommendations that could increase timber supply, including direction on the potential scope of changes to land use objectives, rate of cut and the conversion of volume based to area based tenures; and areas requiring change to legislation and/or key implementation tools.
"The above considerations should occur with due regard for the following: fiscal commitment of the province to balance the budget and maintain competitive electricity rates, maintaining high environmental standards and protection of critical habitat for species and key environmental values, optimal health of communities and as orderly a transition as possible to post beetle cut levels, maintaining a competitive forest industry, the existence of First Nations rights and claims of title, and the softwood lumber agreement and other trade agreements."
Many of the things that we have talked about here today are clearly in the mandate of what we need to be looking at as part of those considerations. I just wanted to reclarify that this is within the scope of what we're trying to do. We need to have all those values in consideration as we proceed with this.
With regards to parks, like I say, it's not necessarily something I want to look at, but it has been raised by First Nations to me in particular. That's the only reason why I've raised that as an issue.
Kevin, if you wanted to perhaps answer the question.
K. Kriese: Through to the question on the professional foresters piece. I think everyone's paid attention to the ABCFP. It's been fairly active on this. I think they've really articulated, ultimately, that a key part of our forest management fabric is the sustainability of other non-timber values. That's point No. 1.
Secondly, I think they've really pointed to the point of due process. A lot of these objectives were established through social choice, and there is variability throughout the province in terms of how they land on the land base.
If you're going to make changes, you'd better do it thoughtfully. You'd better have absolutely careful regard for the balance, understanding the impacts not only on communities and fibre and economies but understanding its impacts. And you need to have a thoughtful, careful process to get to a solution. I think they've been pretty careful to say that it's very hard to describe what the right answer is at the start of a process, particularly on something like old growth.
There's no single answer, because it could be different in different places and different ecosystems. If you run through the process and you do all those things right, you'll probably come to an answer that's defensible, that's good forest stewardship and fits the communities' needs.
J. Rustad (Chair): I think we are out of questions, then, for option No. 2 — under the constraints under part 2 of option 1.
Kevin, I'll let you proceed, then.
Actually, in fairness, I do…. The questions and things that we're asking here are critical and components of part of the process that does need to be understood. Many of them will be generic type of questions that will carry through as part of when we're looking at all the options so that those things are on the table. I'm not anticipating that we would have the same discussion on each option. At least I don't think we will.
I think it's very good that we have been able to engage in this to understand the process, particularly for those that may be listening to or reading our deliberations to understand how this committee is working.
K. Kriese: It should get easier. I think you're right, John.
The next one that we looked at is the riparian and stand-level biodiversity. I think you may have seen a presentation on how the constraints work.
Largely, there's no map that shows where these exist. They exist as sort of objectives, mostly, on the landscape that we don't track in like a big database. That's usually because they're quite small. Riparian areas could be as little as ten or 15 metres wide — very rarely would they be 30 or 40 metres wide — and they're ubiquitous. Basically, every area that has harvesting will have either riparian areas or wildlife tree patches.
So they're quite different than, say, old-growth management areas or wildlife habitat areas or ungulate winter ranges, which tend to be bigger, tend to be locked down or mapped — and we have maps that can show where they are — and tend to have a legal objective that's attached to them that says: "This is the objective in this area."
These are more like a forest management requirement that occurs every time harvesting exists. You have to look at — not even a forest stewardship plan — almost a cutting permit to actually see where they exist in any particular place. However, with that said, they are part of the fabric throughout the province. They exist virtually everywhere.
Foundationally, the riparians are pretty easy if you go back to why they're there. The question…. Our criticism of forest practices, particularly in the '80s, was around habitat management, fisheries, water quality, and so on.
So this was one of the fundamentals of the Forest Practices Code. First you protect the water, and you protect the fish. If you get that right, then you build a fabric on top of that to protect the other kinds of habitat. And these have all sorts of other habitat values. They're a pretty critical part of your overall management of stewardship values.
We do emphasize that there are other First Nations values. You'll find — it was mentioned — culturally modified trees and so on. Obviously, First Nations traditionally spent a lot of time in riparian zones. Those are the travel corridors. Those are the feeding corridors. They actually have a lot of overlap with other values. You'll also see that attached.
Riparian areas are very, very, overly important in the landscape in terms of habitat, not only for fish and water quality but for other types of species — ungulates. In terms of hectares of biological value, they're really, really valuable. So they become pretty important.
However, the scenario that we ran looked at removing the requirements for riparian and wildlife tree patches. Again, it sort of emphasizes, in a tentative bookmark, that this is the maximum possible change that would result. That resulted in an increase in mid-term of 13 percent in Quesnel, 6 percent in Williams Lake and 10 percent in the Lakes. It gives you, again, an estimate of the range of the total impact.
J. Rustad (Chair): If I could, just one question around that. I know, from being out on the land base — and I agree, in terms of the critical value of the riparian areas — that in many of the pine beetle–killed areas…. Now, having said that, in many of the areas you don't tend to have pine right up to the riparian, because it tends to be more of a transitional ecological zone.
Having said that, have you got any data in terms of where there's been logging up towards where those have been left behind? How do they stand up in terms of wind, fire and other types of challenges that could happen on the land base post-harvesting up to those areas?
K. Kriese: I'm a bit too far away from the operations, probably, to comment on that. I think it is one of the questions. Foresters are required to look at reserve wind firmness and all those factors when they design their reserves.
I think all CUs sort of get at the point around…. One of the things that has been raised is: is dead pine in your riparian zone actually achieving the objectives — almost like we talked about with old growth? Is it helping us with water quality and with other things, or could you be harvesting some of it or all of it and still achieve the structural objectives?
In the past it's sort of been reserve, and there are options, under the legislation, to vary it from a reserve approach and move it to a management approach. It allows for more flexibility to take a look at those kinds of considerations.
In fact, we actually do see where licensees have the option of proposing those kinds of variances in most of our management zones. They sometimes do — some of them are very good at that — and sometimes don't.
J. Snetsinger: Our FREP program, the forest and range evaluation program, has monitored and does monitor the efficacy of the riparian and stand-level biodiversity attributes that are part of the forest management framework. That is information…. If the committee wanted to get more information on how those things are actually achieving the desired objectives, there are reports available for that.
J. Rustad (Chair): I've got Eric and Norm, but just before I go that, just one quick question. When you're talking about the percentages on the land base, with each of these suboptions under the constraint component, is the number there exclusive of overlap or inclusive of overlap?
A. Prasad: For the riparian, it included the whole riparian area.
J. Rustad (Chair): Yeah. In other words, when I'm saying…. The reason why I'm asking that is because we may have visual quality, and there may be old growth in there. There may be riparian in there.
Even if you were to turn all of these off, this isn't necessarily a cumulative that we're looking at. These are just the on-off switches of any particular option, and it'll be later that we'll get to the discussion around what the overlapping and sort of overall objectives would be.
Okay, I just wanted to make sure I was clear on that. Thanks.
E. Foster: When we're talking about this, we're talking about the mid-term timber supply again, so these will be areas that will be riparian or, under today's rules, will be left as riparian at the mid-term-harvesting time. We're not referring to areas that have already been harvested and left as riparian?
A. Prasad: These would be all riparian areas, present and future.
E. Foster: So if we're looking at mid-term timber supply, we have to exclude from that number all of the areas or a lot of the areas that have been harvested, because they definitely are economical to go back into.
K. Kriese: In the case of riparian, that's true. But the model has a minimum. You tell me it's described how the model would kick out stands that essentially would be too isolated or….
A. Prasad: These areas would be added in. They're already in there. We've excluded them because they were riparian, but all we did was to throw them back in. These are all areas that are riparian but were logged ten years ago, 50 years ago. This is the contribution from all riparian areas.
E. Foster: My point to that is that if we're looking at mid-term timber supply, we have to exclude those areas where the reject in that area will not have got to the point where it'll be part of the mid-term timber supply. We won't be able to use them as part of the….
K. Kriese: Let me give you an example. If you had a cutblock, logged ten years ago, and there's a riparian strip next to a stream, you're saying: "If we now make that available, it's not practical to log it because it's isolated and, therefore, should or should not be included." I think that's your point.
E. Foster: Yeah, and that's a very good example. If we're looking at the mid-term timber supply at, say, being 20 years from now, this stuff was logged and regenned — you know, free to grow, even, or sufficiently restocked, it's not going to be old enough. So you definitely wouldn't be going in there and crashing through your three-quarter-grown timber. We'd maybe tweak that number a little bit to really reflect what exactly or truly will be part of the mid-term timber supply.
The reason I say that is, again, back to the relevance of whether we're going to go after some of this stuff. Is it going to be that big a number? Is it worth picking up the rock, if you will? I think that's what maybe we should tweak a little bit. It's just, obviously, what we can do.
K. Kriese: To answer your question, if we had done a normal timber supply…. The licensees all look at it and say: "Practically, those things are isolated."
Because we haven't gone through that process…. We've turned it on in an analytical sense without necessarily ground truth — without looking, as you say, whether stuff is practically available or not. We haven't put it through that lens. I think your point is that this is probably an overestimate of how much riparian would actually, practically bring back in of harvestable timber.
E. Foster: That's the question, yeah.
K. Kriese: You are right.
A. Nussbaum: It is a bit tricky, though, because the mid-term occurs over 30, 40, 50 years. So the question then becomes…. If you have a 30-year-old stand or 40-year-old stand that was logged some time ago, it may become merchantable — that riparian area. So we have to kind of back up and say: "Okay, over the mid-term period — back to your point — what's likely to be actionable within a larger cutblock scenario, and what will not?"
Like I said, every one of these is…. Once you get into the details, there are always sublevels of analytical resolution you can apply to the problem. But you've got a good point. This is definitely a theoretical bound, and you've pointed out that it might be overstated.
E. Foster: The reason I bring that up…. Again, if we're looking at what recommendations we're going to make to sort of get all of us at the price point again and whether we're going to be able to find enough timber to keep mill X open or two shifts or one shift or whatever it's going to be, we're going to have to get into some pretty fine numbers here. Although we were talking millions of metres of wood, I just wanted…. I was kind of struck by….
A Voice: It's a good point.
J. Rustad (Chair): Sorry, did you have anything else you wanted to add? Okay.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just to come back. I guess my mind now is on how this is framed when we go to the community. I take the point that you want to lay out all the options, but I'm finding myself, every time Eric speaks, agreeing with what he says about: "Let's be really careful about how we frame these things."
Of course, riparian areas — the complexity…. If you do not manage these things properly, then the implications for individuals and for how we view…. You know, this is the land we're supposed to be looking after, so there'll be sensitivity, we know, around this. We know that in terms of framing the discussion, we need to be careful in how we frame this. We know that we have to be very careful with the old-growth management.
My understanding is that parks are off the table, from what the minister said. You introduce a whole other discussion — right? — if you say that that's on the table. We could be spending our three hours in town just hearing about people loving parks.
I think the framing of this is all really important so that when we go into the community for the limited time that we have, we're actually talking about where we're going to go. There are an awful lot places in old-growth management that are, in practical terms, off the table. In terms of riparian, I agree with Eric. There's an awful lot of this that is simply off the table. There's no way on earth we would ever, ever do things. Even if you're doing the best that you can….
I think, Donna, you've got an issue in your area that we hear about all the time. Randy Saugstad. Since he's been in question period, I don't think he minds us saying. With just a change to his stream, the implications for him are so huge for how he runs his ranch and everything like that. And I know, Donna, you've been working on that.
These are massive issues, where even when you try to do the best that you can, if you make a mistake, there are implications. I'm agreeing with Eric that if we're putting this on the table, let's be really careful how we frame it so that we don't have a discussion about things that we never would ever do. Make sure that people are coming to the meeting not out of fear that we're all of a sudden going into places where realistically we wouldn't.
I guess it's not really a question. It's just a concern as we go forward.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thanks for that.
D. Peterson: Just bear in mind that as a committee, you can get a better answer, so to speak, to a lot of these questions by doing a much more exhaustive analysis, TSA by TSA. Or you can come up with an estimate by…. For instance, coming back to Eric's point, you could say: "For each timber supply area, what's the estimate of how much of that has been already roaded and developed?"
You can come up with an estimate like that relatively quickly. Then you could just apply it on this 13 percent, and you could say: "Well, realistically, half of it couldn't be available at all just because it's already roaded."
I guess what I'm trying to explain to the committee is that there are lots of these questions where you can refine it down somewhat just by applying some estimates against these bookends, rather than having to go back and do exhaustive analyses.
I partly raise that because I know we spent a long time coming to this level of analysis for each of the timber supply areas. To go back and try and really refine it just isn't in the scope of the time frame that the committee's got. But there certainly are lots of ways that you can apply estimates over top of this baseline information to better inform that public discussion.
J. Rustad (Chair): I have Harry and Donna, but just before we go to that, to Norm's question about the minister saying that parks were off the table again, I just want to repeat…. The reason why I'm even raising this is because it was raised as a question by a group of First Nations.
There was some work done, you know, to sort of answer that question initially. Like I say, it's not something that we had thought about or considered. But just using the Lakes TSA as the example, a small portion of the northern part of Tweedsmuir Park, and with some of the other protected areas around that, was the equivalent of almost 900,000 cubic metres a year, sustainably, in mid-term.
I'm just saying — right? Whether or not we consider that will be something that we would have to think about, obviously, as a group. Whatever we recommend isn't necessarily going to be accepted one way or the other anyway. But it is something that we may need to cognizant of as we go through this process.
H. Bains: Just a question on the last two bullets. Can someone tell me whether the fourth bullet, on the last bullet…? Or the third bullet. Is it inclusive of the fourth — the numbers that we're using?
A. Prasad: The last bullet….
H. Bains: The 350,000 hectares.
A. Prasad: That's for the Prince George TSA. We didn't mention that earlier.
J. Rustad (Chair): It wasn't in the No. 3 bullet.
A. Prasad: It wasn't in the third bullet.
H. Bains: Okay, so those only talk about those….
A. Prasad: We only talked about three of the TSAs, and then we got some information on the fourth TSA.
H. Bains: Okay, so Quesnel, Williams Lake and Lakes. And this is Prince George, but there's no analysis done on that — right?
K. Kriese: We didn't do a timber flow analysis. We just did an area analysis.
H. Bains: Okay, I've got it.
K. Kriese: And that goes back to the point…. In that case, the particular analytical scenario, the advice that we received was that riparian wasn't worth looking at. In other places they felt it was. So you get a little bit of a different flavour.
D. Barnett: I'd just like to go back to Norm's — if I'm allowed to call him Norm — comment regarding some of the issues. Like Randy Saugstad — it goes back to back to 1988, so I don't think that is a good example of an issue that I would think we should be talking about too much. The evidence proves that the cause was not the pine beetle. It helped the problem, but it was not the cause. So I think we should leave that one alone, because I've got the evidence.
I think something that really concerns me is when we go out to the public and we're asking for their input, many people do not understand what an old-growth management area is. So if we don't have the proper information when we go out there and we talk about OGMAs, talk about ungulate winter range, about riparian areas, there's going to be much emotion if we don't get the scientific facts on the table for the public out there. I know because I've been through the process with the beetle coalitions.
Somehow we have to have the correct information when we go to the public, or we won't resolve anything.
J. Rustad (Chair): That's a very good point. Thank you, Donna.
Part of what we are going to do later today is talk about what we're going to make available on our website around the consultation paper that kind of goes out and lays some things out and background information that would be available. That will be certainly part of the process that is going to be required to try to help people understand what it is that we are looking at and the terminology and those sorts of things.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just to come back to the point. I use it as an example of the complexity that comes if riparian areas are seen as degraded. It just complicates life for people on the ground, and it's not what we do in British Columbia — right? So that was the example. We do these things properly. That's what we tell ourselves.
Just to come back to John's point. I just think we really need to be careful. I mean, things that we say here have implications for softwood. Things that we say here have implications for all of the groups that pay close attention and have huge sensitivities. I just don't want to get off track.
I mean, First Nations or any group that wants to raise…. They can come to a public meeting and say anything. It's just that for the Chair or the committee to raise it repeatedly, I think, is going to get some people thinking that there's an agenda here when I don't think there is. Just to keep it as simple as possible, you know, if the minister said it's off the table, then my perspective is that that's the view of government, and the committee needs to bear that in mind.
I realize that we can go all over the place, but it seems to me that even what we have on the table with riparian and old-growth management are sensitive enough. We've received enough feedback for all of us to have, you know, a pretty good sense of the sensitivities.
As we frame the work that we're doing, as we go to each community, I think we need to be as clear and as concise as we can be and make sure that we frame a discussion that's going to be useful and get us to where we need to be — which is to try to find room within things that we have a social licence for and that there's a public appetite for. I guess that's the point I would make.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you for that.
E. Foster: Yes, thank you. It really segues right into what I wanted to say. I got a call yesterday from the CEO of one of the major licensees that was excited about what we're doing. One of the things he was very concerned about was that we make sure that we engage the NGOs and all the environmental people.
I guess I would ask…. For our stakeholder meetings, have we contacted them so that they can be part of the conversation, so that when we're done, we don't have a major stakeholder group…? Maybe we're, like, not engaging the industry or not engaging B.C. Wildlife or something like that — just to make sure that they're engaged and part of the conversation, so they can be part of the solution.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just in response to that, we are compiling a list of all of the groups that operate on the land base or that have an interest in the land base. Once we get through this today, we will have….
The goal is to create the discussion paper that'd be made available. Once that is there, we have three days set aside right now in July, and the intent of those days is provincial consultation where those sorts of groups would come in and be engaged with us as part of the process and discussion going forward. So that's the intent of what we're trying to do, and hopefully, that will be able to meet the needs that are required.
L. Pedersen: I just feel obligated to try and put a finer point on this discussion. I'm very sensitive to how things are framed and set in context with respect to public process.
I'm struck by the term "mitigation options." The way it's being utilized here is actually overreaching what this is attempting to do. What this is attempting to do is just analyze on the surface what is the raw amount of area in riparian zones within which there may be some options for consideration. What these numbers don't do, and why they're actually not mitigation options….
There's no assessment of the biological risk of going into these areas, and there's no assessment of the economic feasibility of going into these areas. Again, I keep saying that we do, collectively, have the analytic capacity to put that lens over top of this, and when that lens is put over top, then that's the thoughtful discussion that I think needs to unfold at the community level.
What would it mean, and what are the risk tolerances, given that there's this devastating economic impact from mountain pine beetle? What is the public tolerance for risk to the traditional way of maybe managing biological values versus a non-traditional way — where maybe we do enter some of these areas and it still is an acceptable risk to the maintenance of biodiversity, or it's still an appropriate economic mitigation, and we actually know that kind of trade-off?
When I listen to this discussion, I think a lot of it centres around…. This is almost a misnomer to say that this is a mitigation option called riparian. It isn't. This is a raw assessment of how riparian values constrain timber supplies, and it leaves open the question of: are there other ways of looking at the maintenance of riparian values?
Within an economic framework, the process is everything — where an appropriate process discussion unfolds at the community level, and then viewpoints are brought forward to say, "Yeah. We would like you, the committee, to consider some of this," and here's kind of what the community view of these values is. Here are some things, locally — that maybe I don't know or Kevin doesn't know or David doesn't know — that are being learned on a local basis in response to the impact of mountain pine beetle on overall forest dynamics.
I guess I'm highly cautioning against calling these mitigation options and am for finding some more appropriate and thoughtful context for presenting it.
J. Rustad (Chair): I appreciate that.
Kevin, over to you now, I think to move to part 4 of option 1.
K. Kriese: Ungulate winter range. I think it's pretty straightforward. Ungulate winter ranges are just that. Just a bit of context is that a lot of them are around deer and moose in the north, but the other one is caribou. That's sort of the third big species. I don't think there's much else. I could be wrong. There are probably some goats, but not in this part of the world. Maybe some elk. It tends to be deer down in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, moose sort of more on the Vanderhoof and Lakes and caribou in a couple of different management units.
This describes the area of ungulate winter range that's in the timber-harvesting land base. It's quite large areas: 22,000 hectares, 86,000 and 134,000 hectares into Williams Lake. The key here is that the goal of ungulate winter range is to maintain either a thermal condition — it intercepts snow and these kinds of cover requirements — or in the case of things like caribou, sort of the characteristic for maintaining lichen, to keep lichen growing in the high-elevation forests or sometimes in pine forests.
The key is that most of these areas, the bulk of them don't have…. They're not a lockout. They're not a no-go zone. Caribou might be the exception, because they're very old in high-elevation lichen habitats, particularly in the Prince George area. What you tend to get is, although they're large areas, they are required to maintain a balance of young, mature and old forests. Therefore, there is harvesting in them. Particularly in the deer and the moose, there tends to be just periodic harvest, and they're actually relatively not that constraining. Caribou tends to be much more constraining because of the life cycle requirements of caribou.
When you look at the summary, when you eliminate the requirement for ungulate winter ranges in Prince George, there is no effect on mid-term timber supply, which is really interesting. Particularly when you look at those large blobs and a lot of it being around caribou habitat, remember that caribou habitat is high-elevation forest in Prince George — it's balsam stands, some alpine fir stands — that tended not to be economic in the first place.
So you'll say: "Well, why did you place those constraints on there?" Well, a couple of reasons. One is that you never know when industry might decide to go in. Just because it's not included in the timber supply doesn't mean they can't go, so it creates some certainty that that's available for the critters. It just prevents a future expansion of the timber supply so that you don't go to a place where you create a risk that doesn't exist today.
There's not a lot of current economic impact of things like those caribou zones, even though they look really big. Similarly, in the other areas we estimate very little impact or no impact in the mid-term in those other timber supply areas from eliminating the ungulate winter ranges, and that's partly because they are in them harvesting.
Now, with that said, you go talk to the operational foresters, and they'll say that there will be some local operational advantages. There's probably some timber that falls below the resolution of our models that could get freed up, and that comes back to sort of optimizing things locally. So there will be places where they could say: "Yeah. If we did this a bit differently, your model doesn't pick it up, but we know we'd get some more timber out of there."
That's not to say there is no gain that could be taken from these, particularly sort of tweaking them and making them better on the ground. But when you roll it up into a timber supply area, there's not a lot of gain, from that big forest management perspective.
E. Foster: Just a comment on this, and I'm just going to go back to something that John mentioned a little while ago. When you look at ungulate winter range and wildlife corridors as a percentage of the whole operation, a lot of the overlap with the riparian areas, which works quite nicely…. That's where they live in the winter anyway. Again, I mean, I see you've really put it down as having little or no impact on the mid-term timber supplies, so it's really almost a non-issue for us, other than if we ask you to do it.
K. Kriese: It's certainly not going to be a big-ticket issue in terms of solving the overall problem. But again I come back…. Some people just on point of principle believe you should look at it. Part of the reason we did this is that some people really believe…. They are large areas. They see that map, and they say: "Oh my lord. These must be having a huge impact on our timber supply." You see the map with large spatial reserves on it. When you do the numbers, you realize that they were carefully designed to minimize that.
That's story number one: that some people don't know how big their impact really is. Therefore, they think it's a bigger impact, and they want to take a look at it.
B. Routley: This is one of those ones that I wonder why it's even there, because I can't imagine going into a community and saying: "We've got some really good news and some bad news. The good news is there are a few thousand cubic metres. The bad news is that the moose will have nothing to eat." You know, I just don't understand.
Anyway, it's interesting.
J. Rustad (Chair): To Kevin's point, I think it's of value to communities to know, because they know it's out there. It's a possible constraints value for communities to know that there really aren't any operational gains in terms of looking at changing any of the parameters. I think from that component, part of what we're doing is to throw any option that's out onto the table. The last thing you want to do is have people come to you and say: "Well, why didn't you consider this?" This gives everybody that opportunity for some value around that.
D. Barnett: And you know, Bill, if you…. The guide-outfitters, the hunters and the B.C. Wildlife Federation — if you don't put this out there, they'll be coming to look for Bill Routley.
B. Routley: They'll be coming to look for you. I'm not government.
J. Rustad (Chair): That's the beauty of this committee. It actually isn't government. It is a committee of the Legislature.
I don't see any other questions on that one, so that's good. Let's move on to 5.
K. Kriese: Recreation. In fact, John's question…. There are a lot of objectives around recreation. What this tried to look at is those areas that have a specific land management objective for recreation — not visual and not just trail designations but an actual recreation area that shows up in our model as a constraint on timber. So that is a much smaller subset of all the recreation objectives.
You see the analysis in terms of raw areas. Quesnel, 1,100 hectares; Prince George, 2,500 hectares; Williams Lake, 5,600 hectares. Again, the second bullet says: "They are not excluded." So most recreation sites, you can go in there, and you can harvest. You just have to keep it down to a dull roar and pace it out over time and maintain some forest cover.
As a result, even though those areas may look relatively large in terms of number of hectares, there's no discernible impact to the mid-term timber supply from removing them.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you for that. Does anybody have any other questions on option 1, the first part, the mitigation options?Sorry, "mitigation" may be the wrong thing. On the various timber constraints?
Without that, then we'll be looking at moving on to the second one, which is the AAC management. But with that, what I'd like to suggest is that lunch is available, so this might be an appropriate time for us to take a break and be able to come back refreshed and look at the next option — unless you think you want to try to squeeze another half-hour in here before we go.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay. What I'd like to suggest then to the committee is that the committee will stand recessed for half an hour to give us a break for lunch.
The committee recessed from 11:45 a.m. to 12:31 p.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): Welcome back, Members and the presenters for our committee today.
Committee Advertising for
Community Consultation Process
J. Rustad (Chair): We're just going to take a brief break from the presentation to talk a little bit about advertising and the things that we need to get out the door. We're approaching some deadlines today in terms of being able to submit some ads within communities to give notice. Many of the communities we're visiting only have weekly newspapers, so obviously, there's a lead time in terms of getting those things in place.
Distributed to you from Kate, our Clerk of Committees, is a list of some of the radio-type ads — the radio spots and costs and those sorts of things — as well as a tentative schedule set out.
Are those times…?
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Deputy Clerk and Clerk of Committees): Yeah.
Just for members' information, the schedule in your hands has the two options. The one on the right has a number of hours indicated for each of the public hearings that were discussed at the previous meeting this week. That's certainly the scenario that we would be working towards now.
As I understand, your preference was as much as possible to maximize your time in each of the communities.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay. So what I'd like to suggest just around this is that if the committee is okay…. Particularly, we have to make a deadline for the newspaper in Mackenzie, I believe, today. What I think we're looking at in terms of supply….
Now, do you have a copy of what you were thinking about?
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): If I could just explain, there's been some kind of a delay with a revised version of the newspaper ad being faxed to us. I wanted to have copies for everybody this morning. I've got just got a few to hand out.
In essence, the document that I'm about to distribute now is essentially a working-draft newspaper ad. It would correspond to the costing document, which I've also just circulated. The proposal would be that a version of this ad, once approved by the committee, would then be placed in the regional newspapers, as summarized in this sheet here.
Because the newspaper placements can't begin until mid-week next week, June 13, we're proposing that a 30-second radio spot begin in those June 18 communities as soon as possible, hopefully as early as this weekend. It's simply just a directional 30-second spot notifying those communities of the fact that the committee is going to be in their local area and to connect up with the website for more information and a review of the work and the terms of reference of the committee.
We'd like to launch the radio ads as soon as possible and then the newspaper ads upon your approval.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just in terms of looking at this, one of the keys, of course, is going to be the discussion paper. That is the basis of what we'll be going out to the communities to have the consultation with. The basis of that discussion paper is what we are trying to accomplish today.
The key is that when the ads go out, they're going to direct people to the website, where that information will be contained, as opposed to trying to provide all of that as part of an ad. I think it would be, first of all, probably too much information. Once it gets to be that big of an ad, it doesn't tend to get read anyway.
I guess what I'm looking for from committee members is their level of comfort. I'm going to ask, I guess, for permission from the committee members to work with Kate in terms of trying to get these ads organized and out the door. Norm, if you want to be part of that….
If the committee's okay with that, Kate and I, in discussion with Norm, could be able to do that. If not, we can have a broader discussion right now. What would you like to do?
D. Barnett: You have my blessing to do it.
H. Bains: Just clarifying here: these ads are just…. We're buying one ad, one time, in each paper?
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): This initial costing estimate is a one-time placement, but I would actually recommend that we go up to two placements. It depends on the publication schedule — how frequently the newspapers publish. Where it makes sense, because of the timing of the committee's public hearing, I would actually recommend at least two placements. It's quite cost-effective — these regional papers, as compared to the big provincial dailies. We can get, I think, a good media purchase by going to two placements.
H. Bains: So these are just the newspaper ads.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): That's correct.
H. Bains: Then we haven't seen what the frequency of the radio ads would be — right?
J. Rustad (Chair): It would be radio ads…. Kate has done, obviously, a lot of these for other committees. It would be something similar to what we would do with the Finance Committee or other types of committees in terms of running a number of spots that would run throughout the day.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): That's exactly right, Mr. Chair. It would be about four or five placements per day, 30-second slots. They'd be in all of the same communities that you see reflected in the print media proposal.
The announcement — I have a sample copy of it now, which I'll just circulate for your information.
B. Routley: Can I do the voice-over?
J. Rustad (Chair): We'll give you a 30-second read-around.
A Voice: He's missed his calling.
J. Rustad (Chair): Like I say, the challenge will be…. As we know, we've only gone through the first of five options that are going to be presented to us. Obviously, it took us the better part of a couple of hours, two or three hours, to discuss in detail, that sort of thing. It's going to be impossible to try to capture all of that as part of advertising.
The goal is to raise the level of awareness, get people interested, get their attention to the website to be able to find more detail as to what it is that we'll be doing throughout the process and why we're coming to the communities.
H. Bains: Is there supposed to be another page? It says "page 1 of 2."
J. Rustad (Chair): Look on the back side. Oh, there's nothing on the back side.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): I can explain. The page 2 of that particular document — we didn't make a copy of it. It was just sort of a total amount or something like that — a footer, essentially, on that computer printout. It wasn't significant information.
B. Stewart: I just concur with Harry. I think in Kamloops, even with Valemount being out far enough, I would, because of the frequency only being once a week…. You might run a second ad in places where it was feasible. That's what I would do.
And Bill has actually offered to do the voice-overs on the radio.
J. Rustad (Chair): Good. I appreciate that, Bill. I may utilize that skill.
Also, when you're looking at, for example, the daily newspaper in Prince George…. That's a newspaper that circulates, really, throughout much of the impacted area. So you can do a second spot or a sort of more generic type of spot, ad — something like that.
H. Bains: Because we've been through these types of things…. People will always come to you: "We haven't been told." Can we get, actually, a total layout of what kind of advertising we're doing — the total radio, this and this, and all that — so that we know exactly what we did in that particular area?
J. Rustad (Chair): Yes. That will be prepared for the members.
H. Bains: The second part is: the organizations and the groups in those particular areas — will they be contacted separately?
J. Rustad (Chair): The advertising is for the public input component. Of course, we have the round tables that'll be happening as the earlier part, and then the groups that have stakes in the land base will be notified, such as the Steelworkers, the mills, the various other types of groups that would be directly impacted on the land base in the area. They'll be invited to contact our office and to book a time for a submission.
H. Bains: As soon as we know, can we have a list of who has been contacted, as well, please?
J. Rustad (Chair): I can ask the Clerk's office to do that, yes.
B. Routley: I was just going to suggest that these ads are pretty generic, and they don't really tell much of the story.
He suggested that I do a voice-over. It could go something like this: "We're thinking of eyeing up your visual quality areas, your old-growth and your biodiversity zones, as well as other options. Maybe even parks." I'm sure we'd have more uptake….
A Voice: Maybe you'd get some more people coming out, too.
B. Routley: If you're interested, we could work on something.
D. Barnett: "This ad is by Bill Routley, MLA for…." [Laughter.]
J. Rustad (Chair): As opposed to, you know, "People, lend us your ears," it'll be: "People, lend us your fibre."
Now, in all seriousness, though, is everybody okay, then, with that part going out?
Some Voices: Yeah.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): Just to confirm, then, we will provide members with a complete media summary as soon as all the details are finalized. But going forward, we will aim for the two placements, the radio ads. And I certainly welcome all of your input as you cast your eye over the regional papers that we've proposed. I know Donna had some specific suggestions for amendment which we very much appreciate.
In addition, we will be preparing, for the Chair and the Deputy Chair to review, a provincewide news release which we'd like to issue as soon as possible, which we'd basically send out to all provincial media with a list of the dates and locations. That is another quick mechanism that we would deploy shortly.
All of this information, once approved and finalized, will be also available on the committee's website. I know there are a lot of people in various communities already watching the website, so that will be another good source of information for everybody.
D. Barnett: That would be when you could do your press release.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'd also like to just suggest that Kate work with the ministry staff and Susanna, just around the content of what goes into the ad….
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): We've been collaborating and very much appreciate the input thus far.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Yes, the staff and our communications have taken over.
D. Peterson: Just a question around protocol. We are assuming it's very important in our ongoing support for the committee, and then also the following work after August 15, that not as many as this but certainly some of our staff accompany you to the meetings, etc. Is that your understanding? Is that the committee's understanding as well?
J. Rustad (Chair): My understanding of this is…. Of course, we have our two special advisors that will be touring with us, where possible, who will be able to field many questions. I think the ministry had talked about having the local staff being able to be there, to be able to answer more specific or localized types of questions.
I will leave that up to the ministry as to whether you feel that it would be important to have any additional staff as part of that process. That's up to you guys through that.
D. Peterson: Thank you. Just so that you know, I certainly can't make all of them, but I believe it's very important for my continued role that I do try to be there and listening to as much of the dialogue as possible.
J. Rustad (Chair): The other thing to keep in mind is that this process is webcast. All the public meetings, the round tables that we'll be going through, will be webcast as well. For those that aren't able to attend the actual public meetings, they can log on. If they can't even log on live at the time when it's all going on, it will be in Hansard, and that can be reviewed at their leisure down the road.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): Can I just amend the record?
Just in the nick of time the faxes from the front desk have arrived. Just to draw members' attention…. The first page shows a sort of published layout of what the actual ad might look like going forward. The second page is the radio costing estimate. The markets covered are on the left-hand column there.
I'm not sure, having a quick glance at this for the first time, how many times in rotation those ads would run, but I think we asked for four to five spots per day. Then the revised newspaper costing estimate at the end of the package includes two placements in various papers, but we can also make any other refinements that members would like to see.
J. Rustad (Chair): This is probably a question for me to ask you off line, Kate, but I'll ask it now. In terms of the radio stations that go into the Burns Lake area, one of them is broadcast out of Terrace. I just want to make sure that we have a list of that for the future.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): We'll include that. Thank you so much.
D. Barnett: The radio stations that go into Quesnel and 100 Mile and areas like that — you will get those to us too? They're not on here.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): Yes, I agree. I see this for the first time just now, and we'll ensure that that area is covered as well.
J. Rustad (Chair): Likely this was just originally set up for the first week of the tour, which is the Highway 16 corridor. Obviously, there would be more advertising for the fifth and sixth when we're in the Cariboo, as well as for the 12th when we're in the Merritt-Kamloops area. That's July, of course — those dates.
Okay. We'll leave that for everybody to have a look at as we go through. But this time now, Kevin, it's back over to you for the second part of our process.
Briefings: Ministry of Forests, Lands and
Natural Resource Operations
K. Kriese: Okay, so we've done basket No. 1, which I'll try and characterize as really about the choices between how much of the forest that grows you make available for commercial purposes or leave on the landscape for environmental and other social purposes. That's: how much is available to flow to timber?
The second set of things we're going to look at is how we actually manage the flows. It's not about making more timber available but when and sort of how you manage that AAC administration.
The first one is a tricky one, because it goes back to how we currently address our allowable annual cut. I won't call it the calculation but the decisions. There are a lot of assumptions behind British Columbia's harvest policy, so that if you understand it you start to realize there are some choices around how you do this. The first one — I would almost want to look at a graph. But I'll start with, try and carry it….
We know we have two real things going on. Think about it as there is this forest out there, and you could…. If you're a miner, you don't have constraints on when you take it. You go in, you harvest everything that's economic, and then you don't worry about it in the future. But in forestry, you have this 100-some-odd-year view where you try and keep that sustainable stock over 100-plus years. It's kind of a unique attribute to forestry.
Some of the rules around it have always been this issue of the falldown. So you're going to start at some harvest level, and for historic reasons, our harvest levels sometimes were higher than our long-term level. So rule number one was, in order for communities to have a sustainable transition from where they were today to where they would end up, you would have this logical step-down over time. The rule of thumb is 10 percent per decade. So your falling down would not be more than 10 percent per decade.
One of the rules the chief forester has historically followed is: every time they set allowable cut, they look ahead and say: "If we're going to have this transition between our harvest level today and our harvest level in the future, let's make sure that we start to step it down at a time frame that lets us have this orderly transition. That's rule number one.
The second kind of rule is that you'll make sure that somewhere in the future you don't have some sort of blip in your harvest, a temporary blip where things fall down and you'll have a big hole in your timber supply. A forest can't have this kind of hole in your timber supply, so you try and smooth that out. That's another piece that's embedded in it.
With that said, the mountain pine beetle creates this scenario where we don't have the orderly transition. We essentially have a cliff. You've essentially moved to a place where the communities fall off a cliff in terms of the timber supply, and you have a radical transition. That's never been part of the forest policy. So that difference is why this issue is on the table.
We never thought our harvest flow regime or our harvest flow policy would ever face this radical change from where a community's expectations are economically today to where they're going to go with respect to mid-term timber supply.
What this option essentially says is: there are choices to be made around whether or not you move some of the harvest that, in the models that we produce, is out there for the mid-term or the long-term. Could you move it forward in the harvest schedule and allow for a more gradual transition for the communities between where they are? That would have an impact somewhere out in the mid-term, and we can describe that.
The key thing here is this is controversial, obviously, because it starts to get into questions of intergenerational equity. Anything you do, you're essentially moving a stock that would have been available 20, 30, 40 years out into ten, 20 or 30 years out. So it's really moving timber forward in time, and that has some real social questions around intergenerational equity. But it also comes back to that trade-off. It's also the community-focus question of: what's an appropriate and gradual transition, and how much time do you want to allow communities to manage that transition to a new future state?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just a question on that. I mean, it is fair to say, though, that this is fairly predictable over the last ten years. We did go up and increase the AAC, and we did know that this was coming. So over the past…. While over the long term this is not how you would normally think that you would manage, certainly over the past ten years it was clear that this is what was going to happen — right? That's fair to say?
K. Kriese: That's fair to say, yeah.
This next slide describes the Lakes timber supply area. It doesn't say it, but the blue line is essentially our current mid-term timber supply prediction, and you'll see that we're at, roughly, 2 million cubic metres a year. I think this is the optimistic scenario that says that would last for ten years. We expect it to decline sooner because of the issues we talked about — shelf life and economics. But then it just essentially collapses and falls down to that 500,000-cubic-metre level, and then it maintains a very flat line for as long as we can.
This is where the analysts get in. They try and figure out how you can keep that flat level as high as you can. They model around, and they fiddle around with stuff to make sure you do all these things. And that gives you a stable line for as long as possible before it starts to grow back, which is when all the mountain pine beetle–affected stands start to grow up and become available again. That comes out in, roughly, 60 years, as you start to get back to an increased harvest level, back up in the range of 1 million cubic metres. So that's kind of your base.
The red line shows an alternate scenario, and there are lots of these alternate scenarios that say: what if you wanted to allow for a more gradual transition to let the community sort of adjust? How could you do that by moving some of the timber that's out there in the future years or future decades into more of a community transition?
What that shows is that the analysts showed from year 10 to year 30 keeping a higher harvest level. But what it results in is a decrease in harvest in that year 30 to year 40 and then a decrease in the years beyond. So conceptually it shows you that you could choose to move some of that timber ahead to allow for a more gradual community transition.
I guess, for discussion, a couple key points are: you can do this. This doesn't violate any environmental rules. This scenario is run as if all of your old-growth objectives and everything else are in place. This is really just about: when is the timber available from a community and economic perspective?
There are options inside our legislative framework and our policy framework whereby the objectives that the province manages under could be adjusted to change how community interests are reflected in this decision about how you flow timber. Once you get past that, there are lots of scenarios here.
You could go deep into the mid-term and have a greater community transition. Or you can go shallower into the mid-term and have a smaller community transition. You've got choices around that as well. This just kind of lays out the concept.
I'll stop now. I'll make sure I covered that off. My analysts are looking, and I'm making sure they're not going: "Oh no."
J. Rustad (Chair): I think the details around that are something that…. Conceptually, it's what people need to be thinking about. But the details, as to how deep and how that works, are something we should maybe have a discussion on for another time or perhaps later today if we have some additional time, if people are comfortable about that.
Conceptually, everybody kind of understands the process of how we would adjust that? Okay.
With that, Kevin, we want to move on to No. 2.
K. Kriese: The next one is the question around a "merchantability" definition. Underlying all of our analysis and, therefore, the allowable annual cuts, is a series of different criteria that are applied to the forest inventory to say whether it's included or not. They try and mimic the operational realities of the companies. We talked earlier about that. So it's a volume limit, or it's an age or a site index and a whole bunch of other things.
Essentially, what this says is that in some parts of the mid-term timber supply area there are volume criteria that are excluding stands that some people think you should be able to get into. In some places you actually have harvest experience of getting into those.
I think the example that Dave tried to introduce earlier is in Williams Lake. They have a proven ability to go into relatively low-volume stands, and therefore they're included in the cut. Whereas, if you move that into Prince George or Lakes, those same stands are excluded from the cut. So the question becomes….
It's an opportunity, clearly, that people have identified. It physically exists. We can identify the number of stands in each management unit, and we can show that if you change the cutoffs, here's where you could actually find some more timber in the model.
The question becomes how you translate that theoretical physical supply into a supply that operators would actually go after and turn into an economic supply. That's a more complicated question.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Two questions. One actually goes back to the first slide. I mean, what you laid out there: can the chief forester go along with that? As foresters, do you go along with that? Just some sense as to…. We can have the social discussion around whether that's right to go into a different generation's opportunity, but as managers of the forests, is that something that's thought of as appropriate?
Then the second one, just to understand it. This is just identifying for business an opportunity that might be there by taking experiences from other areas, but still businesses would have to decide that this is economically viable. Is that what we're talking about? Okay.
K. Kriese: On the first question. The way that we express it is that the social and economic objectives of the Crown drive. They're one of the key factors in the chief forester's determination. There has always been this trade-off between the present and the future. That's always been present in allowable annual cut determinations. If the province were to express a different set of economic and social objectives to allow for legitimate community transition, that would be possible.
My own view as a forester — I'll go back to that scenario — is that this scenario probably wouldn't be considered good forest management, where you essentially collapsed a management unit down to zero. Every forester might have a slightly different opinion, but I think that would be viewed as probably not acceptable.
A scenario where you made some modest decrease into that area to affect this, to allow for more community transition, thoughtfully applied and all those kinds of things, probably would be seen as legitimately within the domain of forestry.
E. Foster: To No. 2 there, when you're talking about the merchantability definitions. If the ministry changes…. For example, we used to go to a five-inch top. Then the minister told us a four, then the 3½ on ministry sales. The licensees that would hold the tenure — they then can be directed to take that timber out of the bush?
K. Kriese: No. You're right. When they harvest a stand…. Your first question on utilization standards. We can enforce the utilization standard because once they say they want to harvest this stand, we either make them take it to the mill or we change it against their cut. So we can enforce the utilization standard there.
The way the system works is we don't force them to go and harvest particular stands. What we try and do, though…. Through this, what we're trying to show is there is an opportunity here. Then it becomes a question of whether you can change policy and change other things that would incent them to go into those stands, that would make it so that they would actually go in there for some reason — either we change the types of rules we operate under or do some different things so that they would go there.
You're right. We can't force them, but we try and incent them, I guess.
E. Foster: A follow-up to that. Failing that — because this argument comes up all over the place a lot — if they just chose not to do it, could we, under the present system, allocate that cut to someone else?
D. Peterson: Without getting into a huge amount of detail here, there are tools we can use. One of them…. You may hear the expression used: "partitioning the AAC." You don't have to have the total volume fully available to everybody. You can divide it into separate partitions. You could say that component of the allowable annual cut is set aside for this poor quality wood.
So there are mechanisms to follow up on that, yes.
E. Foster: The reason I bring that up is that as we go through this exercise, we're going to hear, I think, when we get into the public domain, a tremendous amount of concern from operators and smaller operators that the tenure's being held by half a dozen major licensees. I think this will be a big factor that we've got to deal with as we go through the public engagement part of this.
The reason I ask that is if somebody asks, at least we'll have an answer for it.
K. Kriese: I can give an example of how that works. John mentioned L&M Lumber. When you go through Vanderhoof you'll see their log decks, which are really, really small. That timber existed outside the normal allowable cut. They are the ones who came forward, I think it's ten or 20 years ago now, and said: "There's an opportunity that we think we can go after."
It was advertised as a special, non-replaceable forest licence, focused on small pine. They were successful on it, and they've been successful at being able to turn that into an opportunity. Essentially, that volume was outside the cut. Now they're harvesting on it and have been for more than a decade. So it's an example of how they take that opportunity and turn it into an economic one.
J. Rustad (Chair): One of the other things that'll need to be considered in terms of that low volume, of course, is that there are other stand components. It's not just 100 cubic metres sitting on there. It's probably 200 cubic metres, but it's 100 cubic metres that would not be considered sawlog.
A. Nussbaum: Well, this is sawlog.
J. Rustad (Chair): No, sorry. What I'm saying is the total stand composition may be 100 cubic metres of sawlog, but there is also maybe an additional 100 cubic metres of some other type, whether it's aspen or whether it's dead pine or whatever that may be. So that'll be something that we need to think about, as to how that is managed going forward in terms of if we're going to be looking at this type of a question.
A. Nussbaum: In my mind, though, that's a fleeting opportunity in the sense that that's early in the mid-term, but it probably isn't later because the dead trees will fall over. There's a dynamic at hand. So probably, if we transition fairly soon — you're right — it's probably 200 cubic metres: 100 of it's dead; 100 of it's green.
The green volume isn't necessarily low quality. It's just that it could be smaller, or it's just 100 cubic metres of sawlog. It just doesn't meet that threshold of what they used to get when they walked into a stand.
But you're right. In the near term, you might have some of that dead fiber that's still useable. Probably 30, 40 years from now, all that stuff is rotted, fallen over, if you haven't gone there. It's disappeared, and now you're really talking just about the green component and any growth that it's experienced over that 30-year period.
H. Bains: Similar to what Eric has asked, I remember, at least on the coast, that there was something called cut controls. My understanding was that the licensee was required a minimum 50 percent, or they could go 150 percent as long as over a five-year cycle they were within 5 percent or something.
If that kind of concept was to be considered for the Interior — although two different industries — would that solve some of those problems that Eric has brought up? Because then you're required to take your AAC, plus or minus 5 percent, within a five-year cycle.
D. Peterson: If I can…. Those same rules do apply to the Interior. I said earlier that we've got mechanisms to do this. The existing mechanisms are really quite clumsy.
You know, if the decision coming out of this was that this is a really important piece for timber supply going forward, then we would also need to work on…. Some of that could even be legislative changes, to really make sure we've got all the tools to make this happen. I don't think the committee wants to spend the kind of time to really delve into all of that.
Those same cut control rules apply in the Interior as they do on the coast, yes, and they don't, on their own, enforce this.
H. Bains: It's also right that the cut control was taken out through legislation back in 2003 — wasn't it?
A Voice: No.
H. Bains: It still applies?
A Voice: Yes.
A. Prasad: There was an adjustment to cut control. I'm not sure now.
A Voice: No annual cut control in the last five years.
A. Prasad: There was some adjustment.
H. Bains: Is it still within 5 percent that it must be?
A Voice: I think it's ten.
H. Bains: Within 10 percent?
At the five-year cycle, they could be only out by 10 percent. We were hearing here earlier that so much was sitting over there. That's a lot more than 10 percent, and they are maybe not economical.
D. Peterson: Again, you run the risk of getting into an incredible level of detail for some of this. One of the issues is where the licensees aren't harvesting their full cut control, generally it is because the economics aren't suitable for a lot of stands.
We become very reluctant, then, to say, "You give that volume to somebody else," because they all then go onto that part of the land base where the economics work for everybody. It just accelerates the pressure on the good part of the timber, and it doesn't actually get anybody into the other part of the timber. Again, that's where I talk about how we have some tools, but if this is a piece that is really important going forward, we need to improve those tools.
J. Rustad (Chair): Albert, did you want to add anything to this?
A. Nussbaum: Yeah, I just wanted to…. Maybe I'll get the point, but Harry, I think there was a change. And the change was that there's no minimum. We don't force licensees to cut timber. They can cut less, but they can't cut more than a certain percentage more, over a five-year cut control period. I mean, I'm not a cut control expert.
D. Peterson: And then when they cut less, government has the ability to allocate that out elsewhere. But as I say, we run into a real problem that, generally, they are cutting less because there are stands that aren't economic. Giving that undercut volume — that's what they call it — to new operators to go into the same part of the timber profile, because they have the same economics, just creates more pressure.
H. Bains: Just to follow that up. I'm trying to understand this. That's why there's a five-year cycle. It may not be economical this year, but over a five-year cycle, because of the cyclical nature of the industry, you do catch up.
My question is: if they haven't been catching up and they haven't been coming close to or within the percentage of the must-cut, then there are some issues here — right?
D. Peterson: And the simple reason is because we're on a longer than a five-year cycle. This decline in the industry has been longer than that normal five-year cycle. That's why we went to a five-year cycle, because that was the usual variation. But this global downturn has ended up in a longer cycle than the normal balancing over five years.
J. Rustad (Chair): We're in six or seven years now in terms of the downturn.
Okay. With that, Kevin, do you want to move on to item 3?
K. Kriese: Well, I'll just finish with the last point, which is just to give you a sense…. Every management unit has a different opportunity. In some cases, it's low-volume stands. In some cases, it's something different. And in the case of the Lakes, we did run this. Changing the current definition from 140 down to 100 led to an increase of about 250,000 metres cubed per year.
We've actually been out on the ground, flying around, looking at people, bringing in bioenergy firms and saying: "You know, this might work." And they're doing their math and trying to make it work.
That's a kind of example, but it's different in every location, and you need to drill into each location and have some operational lenses put on it, because then, the companies look at it and say: "Well, that's all great in theory, but that's too far south. I've got to put a barge on. It won't work. But gee, if it's right close to town, that works."
You do get into a real operational definition of whether they're feasible or not. There's an example of how in the Lakes, if we were able to turn on that volume, you would increase your mid-term significantly, up to 750,000 cubic metres — okay? The next one….
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Can I just…? Again, just to ballpark this. I mean, talking about that additional 50 percent is pretty substantive. If you were going one to ten in terms of how likely I was to get up to that, can you give me just a better sense of what, on the ground, you could ballpark the reality of how much we would get? Do you think it's likely we would get an additional 100,000? Do you think it's likely we would actually get that full amount? What's your best guess?
K. Kriese: I think this one…. It must be a little bit, because we're really trying to crystal-ball this one.
I'm not sure you'd get a portion. I think what you'd get is that you'd get an operation that would turn it on or not. You'd have some sort of operator, or a new industry or something, who would figure it out. They would come in, and you would achieve most, or a big chunk, of it. But I don't think what you'd get is, in some cases, 25 percent of it, in this type of opportunity. Maybe that's different in different management units where a particular licensee would get all the stuff close to the roads.
I think we've certainly identified that this is not easy, but we have a proven history where some of these things in the right markets and with the right operator do get turned on. It's not a faint hope at all, but you've also got to be cautious that it's no panacea, and it's not easy to do, because these operators are out there looking all the time at where they can get it. And there's a reason these have been bypassed in the past.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Are you thinking specifically of bioenergy here? Are you thinking that there's a range of products that could be there, that this is available? An entrepreneur could come and say: "Well, that's something I could do something with." That's what you're talking about — right?
K. Kriese: We're certainly looking at all of them. But in the case of when you get to the bigger ones like this, they kind of scale. It turns itself into something like a bioenergy, big enough to make it worthwhile. So that's what we've been focused on in this particular opportunity.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just to add to that…. Out in the Burns Lake area we've been approached by companies like Aspenware. Of course, there's Pinnacle Pellet, in terms of wanting some fibre. There are a number of energy companies that are looking at various options. It may not be one group, but it may be one group that manages it, and it could actually end up getting partitioned to a number of companies, depending on what ends up happening down the road.
K. Kriese: And sometimes it's novel. The one which I think is in the public domain is a group looking at pads for drilling in the oil patch. They have an idea, and they have a system, and they're looking for a timber supply. It doesn't have to be the same thing that makes 2-by-4's. I never heard of that one, but that's….
A. Nussbaum: I think, too, that there's a possibility that this is still sawlog dimension timber in lower volumes per hectare than we've traditionally harvested in this part of the world. But if you go to Williams Lake, where they have vast expanses — the Chilcotin — easy enough to get around and no lakes, they action this stuff fairly regularly.
I kind of wonder in some of the units, like Morice and Lakes, whether part of the reason they haven't actioned this profile is that there has never been a real need. So we've got to figure out what has held them back from utilizing the profile. Has it been other opportunity, or is there an economic wall that just shuts it down? You know, in the land of plenty you do one thing, and in the land of scarcity you may do something different.
So when you go to communities, try and suss out whether it's a hard wall or it's, "We just haven't had to" or "We've created a mill profile that's used to a certain diet, and we have customers that expect that. We have to maintain that customer base."
Now, we're talking a long term over the mid-term, so there's opportunity for a new mill with a new vision that can turn this…. Maybe there is, and maybe there is not. And that's where it gets more complicated. I think there is real potential in this, without sacrificing environmental values and that.
The question is: in which units is it a real contender? Because in Williams Lake, where you have quite a sizeable mid-term, it has a huge amount of this in the base case — at 1.9 million for Williams Lake. It relies heavily on this, and the reason it's in the base case is that it's part of their current diet. So if these other units….
Like I mentioned earlier this morning, if you see this graph, you see the green component there at the bottom. That green line represents contribution from stands that were pine. They're damaged, but they still have that minimum volume that we're talking about, and that's what's helping your mid-term.
The beetle made a bunch of marginal stands. So the question is: can we get an industry that uses the stands that have been somewhat impacted — they're not wiped out — and actually make a living on them in the mid-term? That's the way I kind of view this.
I think you'll hear plenty when you hit communities. Can they harvest 100-cubic-metre stands, or is that just never going to happen? I think that's a real…. It's dependent on the unit. The opportunity here can be quite sizeable, so it is an important thing to consider.
J. Rustad (Chair): Not to go into too much detail on this, but obviously, we had some discussions around this. One of the concerns that was raised was that you add this in, and then everybody says: "That's great. Send it in. I'm going after my 250-cubic-metre or hectare stand, and I'm not going to worry about that stuff." That is where the partitioning comes in and how you structure how that sort of wood would flow in terms of making sure that it's actually going to be utilized as part of a cut, if this is an option we decide to turn on.
K. Kriese: Amalgamation of management units is something that's often talked about. I'll try and give you an analogy. It's almost like if you're a bunch of individuals with your investments, and you have a bit of money here and a bit of money there, evidence is that if you pool it, you'll have lower management costs. You'll be able to optimize your risk. You'll be able to move things around, and you get an overall higher investment. That's kind of the best analogy.
Particularly on small units, as opposed to managing them unit by unit by unit, if you amalgamated multiple adjacent units, is there a way that that would allow you to increase your total harvest level? Now, in this case, it does exist in theory.
In practice, we did a run of amalgamating three units, which was the proposal, because we had this proposed to us by licensees — Bulkley, Morice and Lakes. There's a lot of timber flow between those units already. They physically could operate, from that perspective. But in this case the increase was relatively small — 0.8 percent. Some people believe that, in theory, you'd get a lot more than that. When you actually ran the model, it didn't find any significant benefit, and I'll let Atmo explain why that didn't materialize.
A. Prasad: Like I said there, we think that if there was a significant difference in the age structure — like, if the Lakes was all young forest and the Bulkley was all old forest — then there would be some synergy to amalgamating those units. But since they're almost the same age structure among all three units, we couldn't find a difference. We couldn't find a benefit to amalgamating them.
When we apply constraints, we apply constraints at the landscape-unit level. And the landscape unit doesn't span TSAs, so there was no benefit in that regard. The only benefit would have been, we think, if there was a significant age difference, and there wasn't.
K. Kriese: This is one of the ones we were asked to look at. In this case it doesn't yield an awful lot. Again, you could find two different management units in a different part of the province where it would have a different result.
D. Peterson: Sorry, John. You want to move on but….
Again, in preparation for the community discussion you will have, this is saying there is a negligible overall increase in timber supply. But if you are a licensee that operates in one of those TSAs and you can have access, then, to others, there's a significant opportunity it raises. You will probably still hear this come up when you get into the communities and most particularly from the Lakes TSA, which has a big deficit. They will say: "There's an opportunity for us if we can go into adjacent timber supply areas."
What this points out is that that opportunity comes at a cost to somebody else.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I think I understand it completely. But you have rights to volume within a TSA. What this does is…. Your TSA is not looking great, so if you expand it, you get to dig into it.
K. Kriese: Anyway, I would emphasize there are some TSAs — like the Lakes, for example — where the piece size in the ground isn't as good as the next one in the Morice. So while it may have not timber supply benefit, that licensee in the Lakes might look at it and say: "I'll be better-off if I can get access to that better-quality wood." So it may not be a physical timber supply benefit but an operational benefit to them.
E. Foster: As a person who lives in what used to be a small mill town — now we sit at the four-way stop and watch the logs go through town — you can't sell this one in the places you're taking the timber from. I mean, I get it that it's part of the exercise. But it's a real no-starter, I think. Now, if they're really not utilizing their timber, absolutely. But I don't think that would be the case.
Do you agree with that?
K. Kriese: You know, amalgamating TSAs…. I think the only one we've done recently is the Cranberry. It was very, very straightforward, a very teeny TSA, logical. It is really controversial. Yes, for sure.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay. Now, let's not go there. Let's go the next option.
K. Kriese: So going back to forestry school…. I think everyone's familiar with a lot of the research and background on how you can just simply grow more trees through intensive management in forest management. What we try to do is identify…. There's been debate about this for 30 years in B.C. as to: why don't we? We'll try and give you…. There has been lots of work on what works and what doesn't.
I should say there's some stuff that we're already doing that's not included. I think people know that it's largely issues around planting the right tree on the right site and getting genetically improved seedlings. That's the number one benefit to long-term timber supply, and B.C. does that really well. Lots of work. We're continuing to improve it.
The thing you do best is plant good plantations and manage your plantations to free-growing. After all the years of theoretical stuff on forestry, in our world and our economics, that's the big thing.
The stuff that has been tried and is more, I would say, a boutique kind of program is these other elements. We tried to increase them over time and depending on situation and so on.
The first one is fertilization. Fertilization — there's lots of evidence that you can simply…. With the right stand in the right place and at the right time, you can fertilize a stand. And before it's harvested, it will just put on more volume, and you'll get more volume off that stand. There's lots of evidence that supports it, and we have lots of operationally….
Susanna, you could describe. We do quite a bit of that now. Do you want to just…? How much we do now — millions a year?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Yeah, the Forests for Tomorrow program already has been spending about $10 million, perhaps, a year on fertilization. They do an analysis where they look at where the return on investment is the highest and then fertilize those sites. We have sites both in the Interior and on the coast.
This program that Kevin is going to show the numbers would be a significant extension of what we…. It would be essentially putting a whole lot more money into what we are currently doing to get those gains — what is in the next slide.
K. Kriese: Right. So the issue here is that in the mid-term, it's one of those options that comes up. You can do some work in here in the early ages, if you're looking at my graph, and you get the benefit in the mid-term. It's not something like a lot of your forest management stuff; that delivers you longer-term benefits. It actually can be done and gets you a benefit in the mid-term.
The program…. After all of the analysis that was done, they took a look at those key management units. This slide shows you the total potential gain. It adds up to — between those five management units — just around 300,000 cubic metres a year in the mid-term. That would require an investment, over a fairly long period of time, of $11 million a year. So you can, essentially, invest dollars, and you'd get the benefit back in terms of increased timber supply.
E. Foster: Did you just say you were doing $10 million right now?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Yeah, about that.
E. Foster: You're talking about an additional $11 million?
K. Kriese: That's in addition.
Now, the next slide talks about sort of some of the pros and cons. Obviously, it costs money, and right now that funding is not available inside our fiscal climate within the ministry. I guess the other side of it is that you do get some of those revenues back in the long term. You're going to get more stumpage and so on.
One of the things about the fertilization program is that you can apply it in different levels in different management units. Some units are really well suited for it. There are lots of stands that are candidates. Some aren't so good. But as you get a bigger program, your return on individual stands starts to decline.
We're already fertilizing the best stands. If you add more money to the pocket, you go to the next best stands, and you add more money, then you go to the next best stands. At some point you get a declining benefit from the level of investment.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Yeah, so currently the land base investment strategy uses a 2 percent rate on investment as kind of like a target for the investments. Going to this size of a program would then necessitate including areas where the target rate would be lower than that 2 percent.
K. Kriese: Maybe that's a summary of this. When we talk to industry about this…. Industry does not practise fertilization in the Interior with their own dollars. This tended to be done because the public has different investment criteria than a private sector investment would. But fertilization…. Just because of the way our stands are, the returns are demonstrable, but it costs quite a bit. With your returns you get back, you can't justify it purely on a financial basis, from an industry perspective.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): So just to be clear. If you had a longstanding, very secure tenure for a business, and you have examples of that, they wouldn't likely choose to do this very often? It's simply done because as a society we think we should be doing something like that. Is that what you're saying?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Well, yeah, essentially it goes to that society has a different expectation of rate of return for investments. Private companies would look at that and say, "Where can I get, rather, an 8 percent to 10 percent return or higher on the dollars I invest?" whereas we are at it for the long-term benefit, looking a hundred years out and looking at the societal benefits. Therefore, we accept that lower rate of return.
D. Peterson: Generally, where the private companies do, it's not just a pure return because of the increased growth. It also, then, maybe frees up some other timber, because these trees have grown a little more quickly, so they can go into the adjacent stands. So it's other impacts than the pure increase in growth in timber supply.
E. Foster: For clarification on that to people that don't log. If you've got a cutblock here, and you cut it and you plant it, it has to be at a certain stage of growth before you can cut the adjacent block. So if you can cut that down by a year, you're back in there a year sooner. You know, the same roads and the same….
J. Rustad (Chair): Not to jump the queue with the presentation on moving from volume to area, but one of the other things, of course, is any investment by a company in a volume-based tenure, they aren't necessarily going to be the ones going back and achieving a benefit from that, because there could be anybody else that goes in and harvests it. Whereas, on an area there's a different dynamic in terms of how land could be managed.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Maybe I phrased it poorly, but that's what I meant. I meant area-based, other examples.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Yeah. And absolutely that's the situation. It's the same on the coast — of this nature.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay.
K. Kriese: Okay. So that's fertilization.
The other forest management options we took a look at — intensive silviculture stuff. The first one is commercial thinning, juvenile spacing and so on. I should emphasize again that a lot of those activities — not the commercial thinning but the juvenile spacing and so on — are done as part of their free growing obligations. This is about: beyond that, are there opportunities?
Again, you can grow more trees by doing them, but typically right now they're just not used, again, because of high costs. I think, just to put it fairly simply, the return isn't there.
In terms of the programs that we run, fertilization comes out ahead of these options in most stands. There are probably a few stands where we do these other options, but generally not very widespread, and they're not very viable from a financial perspective. The tools are there, and they are practical, and they can grow you more trees.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): This isn't new. It's been tried. So with things like the mountain pine beetle, how did they impact stands where this was done? Presumably, with climate change and everything else, this isn't the first infestation to come through.
When you do work like this, do we have any history from what has happened with the pine beetle as to how the pine beetle hits these stands? Is it different than a natural forest or a forest that hasn't had this work? Is it the same? Have we had an opportunity to…?
D. Peterson: We do have. Most of it is anecdotal, so we haven't done any definitive study, by any means. There is lots of anecdotal evidence where stands that were treated this way became more susceptible to the pine beetle. The individual trees got a little bit bigger, particularly with thinning or spacing, and the bigger the tree is, the more desirable it is for the beetle.
So we actually do have some evidence of…. I just saw a presentation the other day from a research forest out of Williams Lake. They had done a juvenile spacing exercise a few years back, and it was hit very hard by pine beetle.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thanks.
K. Kriese: One more quick response to the question.
I think one of the other challenges when you talk about these investments is that the pine beetle has taught us that sometimes we invested in stands, and we thought we were investing in thinning or something to get it 60 years later. The pine beetle came along midway and killed the stand before we'd collected any of our investment back.
One of the risks attached to these investments that industry really looks at seriously is the risk of catastrophic loss. Pine beetle actually is one of those catastrophic losses, which is probably one of the reasons why people don't invest in some of the long-term intensive silviculture.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Again, the experience is that in these areas where there is security of tenure for forest companies, there's a tendency not to find these investments useful from their perspective. Is that…?
K. Kriese: Yes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay.
B. Routley: It's interesting that we…. When you think back on the opportunities when we were getting a billion dollars in revenue from stumpage…. Unfortunately, through all different governments, the forests have been seen as a bit of a cash cow.
I guess my question comes down to: if you were as concerned about future forests and future community values….? Obviously, part of what we've done on the coast of British Columbia is taken high-value old-growth stands and transferred them into lower-value second-growth stands. Certainly, the community is not going to have the value out of them in the future that we once did when we were harvesting the old growth.
Ideally — and the Swedes have done a better job of this, I know — it's by doing the thinning, spacing, pruning, etc. They're not just managing for volume; they're managing for value. So the value extracted in the future will be greater for those communities.
I've often dreamt that, in a perfect world with perfect people, in British Columbia we might have managed better in the past and planned to have a forest that maintained a better value on it. Unfortunately, not only did we want to milk the cow; we wanted to starve the cow too. So we've got a situation now where maybe it's not as viable. Am I wrong? I'm happy to be wrong on this.
In my dream…. If we had spent more of our return — in other words, the cash that came into the province — on intensive silviculture, clearly, we would have better forests in the future than we're going to have as a result of not investing in our forests. But are you telling me this is just a bad investment?
When I was in Sweden, I remember the debate broke out because we had a fellow that grew trees — I won't name names — that was on the tour with us. He said: "Well, why are you planting agriculture land with trees? That's a very bad investment in terms of return." The Swede turned to this fellow and said: "Well, we're not just concerned about today's generation. We're thinking about communities in the future, as well, and our great-grandchildren's children, even. We need to pay attention to our forests now and in the future and the value." So they did things differently.
Back to this silviculture investment. Maybe, from a pure business perspective, that's one way of looking at it. But clearly, with a valuable public asset that you're reaping the returns of, we have, in a sense, stolen from future generations. Clearly, in the old growth that's a fact — that we've stolen, robbed, future generations of British Columbians of huge value by not investing more back into the forests to provide the kind of value that they could have achieved if we had done a better job of pruning, spacing, thinning and replacing.
Had we focused on the kind of quality we were taking off and had any intention to work on at least trying to have forests that somewhat replicated the value that was there, we certainly would have invested in spacing, pruning and thinning, I would think.
Anyway, that perfect world doesn't exist, and here we are.
Clearly, there's not a whole lot of money in the provincial pot. In fact, we're now spending more than we're taking in, as I understand it. So there's not really much there to invest.
Are you essentially saying this is out of the question, as well, in terms of a provincial expenditure — to do pruning, spacing and thinning?
K. Kriese: Two answers. One is that we're trying to show that you can spend and invest in public forests and do a lot of things.
You mentioned improved value. You can improve volume. Some of the investments are also about not only changing our timber values, but we can improve habitat. We've done investments in the past that can actually change some of your ecosystem dynamics.
The question is: what are your objectives? What we're articulating is that you can achieve some of those other objectives, but you don't also achieve a financial return. So you've got to choose what you want to spend public dollars on. Do you want to choose to invest them to get a financial return? Or do you want to choose them to get a long-term social objective and a community benefit? Or so on. You can manipulate the forests to do that.
Maybe I'll let Susanna comment on the difference, in our context, between the Scandinavian context, in terms of what decisions we make.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Well, it's just very different. If you think about…. Using Finland as an example — Sweden is similar — in Finland the average harvest is 60 million cubic metres, same as here in British Columbia, a very similar-sized forest sector in that sense. But if you think about the land base, where they extract that volume to be able to actually supply the wood for the industry, they have had to practise very, very intensive silviculture.
There have been incentives to do so, especially because, as we talked about earlier, they have gone to second and third rotations — very different in that sense than the forestry we have been practising in British Columbia, where we are still at places in the first rotation, right?
It's almost like these things are somewhat history-dependent to what has put different countries, economies, societies in a slightly different path necessitated by where…. It's kind of like the resource they had. It's almost like British Columbia has had so much.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'm just going to add to that a little bit, because there's a lot of discussion there around that question. One of the things that is very significant about Sweden compared to here is that 50 percent of the land base is owned by private individuals, 25 percent of the land base is owned by corporations, and only 25 percent of the land base is actually Crown-owned and Crown-operated-on. That creates a very different dynamic in terms of how that's managed and to those values over time, compared to us, where I think about 95 percent or more of our land base is Crown-owned.
That's one thing that is very significant. I think the other thing to keep in mind in silviculture is that one of the last largest changes in silviculture that we had in the province…. Obviously, there have been incremental things all along, but the biggest change was in 1987.
The change in 1987 was the responsibility passed on to the licensees around reforestation, getting to free-to-grow, versus where the Crown was. If my memory is correct, pre-1987 we were six to eight years regen delay. It took 20 years to get to free-to-grow, and the success rate of plantations was around 65 percent.
Today you're looking at, on the coast…. In some areas you're planting as you're harvesting. But in the Interior you're six to 18 months regen delay, you have about a 95 to 97 percent success rate in your reforestation, and you get to free-to-grow in about 11 to 12 years.
There have been huge changes, and by that step in silviculture…. I guess the question that we will be debating down the road, when we get to the tenure thing and we have our discussions down the road, is: are there other gains that could be made through a change in the way we manage on our land base?
Sorry, that's a discussion for down the road.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just to pick up on that. In the first part of what you said, you made an assertion. I'm trying to catch where you are. What exactly do you mean?
J. Rustad (Chair): How do you mean?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): You were saying that if it's private, this will happen, and if it's public….
J. Rustad (Chair): I didn't suggest that at all. I think you have to distinguish between whether it was private versus Crown or whether…. Is that the distributing factor, or is it because it's area versus volume? Was that the determining factor? There are other ways of looking at how it's managed on the land base. I'm not making a suggestion one way or another.
When we get to the tenure component, we'll hear a little bit around that side, but this certainly will be a discussion for down the road in terms of what we may consider as options for the committee.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I guess I didn't catch the point completely.
J. Rustad (Chair): No, I'm just saying that there's a difference in the way the land is managed in Sweden versus here because of the dynamic as to how they operate on the land base, who owns the land base, where the returns are, those sorts of things. There have been some differences between the two areas.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay, and social values, because one of it is…. I mean, they are different forests, too. When it's public, we're also talking social values too. Is that one of the factors that comes into it as well?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: It's easier for me to speak to Finland than Sweden, but very comparable. For example, there are over 400,000 private forest owners in Finland. Average size of an ownership is about 100 hectares. It's a very different picture, but every single…. There is a similar set of forest legislation and regulation that governs how the forest land is managed. Every single forest owner essentially, at the end of the day, manages it to their own values — right?
There is an increasing challenge, actually, in terms of timber supply in Finland, because private forest owners, especially if they used to live in cities, are managing, rather, the forest for these other values. They leave them there for berry-picking or mushroom-picking since they don't feel they need the income.
They are managing it for all those values, in the same way the public here cares about the multitude of values on the land base.
B. Stewart: This has been a question that has been on my mind. I guess when we talk about the mid-term timber supply, these things like thinning, juvenile spacing, etc., aren't really realistic. I mean, those are really not an option in the forests we're talking about. Trying to get the timber to advance, maybe come on ten years earlier is what I thought I heard the answer was the other day. It's not really in our bucket of options.
K. Kriese: It's in our bucket of options. I don't think we can tell you how much benefit we'd get. We haven't gone into that, largely because we simply don't have the fiscal…. It's not on our radar screen that there would be a fiscal climate to support it, so we haven't gone down the road of saying how big it could be.
I think it's not an easy one. Certainly, some of the opportunities could work. I just wonder, if we were given instructions to go down that path, we could probably tell what the deal was.
D. Peterson: If I can add, Ben, for pure timber supply, there's less benefit from these kinds of opportunities as from fertilization of the right stands. Clearly, these kinds of activities, though, create much more employment while you're doing it. There are other than social objectives you could get, and that's one of the reasons why, when there's a larger intensive forestry program, that generally it's not all into fertilization. It's also into some of these kinds of activities, because there's more of an employment benefit as well.
B. Stewart: I guess if you're looking in the long, long horizon, which is where that would be from…. If, let's say, those stands come on stream and we're looking at other stands that have been populated by just a traditional reforestation program, is it something that we're likely going to abandon because it really doesn't have that significant of a benefit? Or is it going to give us the jump that when we treat a forest like that, like in Finland or Sweden, we're going to find that the productivity is a third more in terms of how quickly marketable log comes to market?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Some of these activities would likely contribute to the back end of mid-term, but also some of those activities — spacing — would add value, potentially. You would have larger trees. As said, then, we also have experienced that catastrophic events can quickly wipe out your investment before you have time to actually really collect that.
So there are opportunities, but once again, nothing is free. You can invest in that. There are certain opportunities, but they are not, all of a sudden, some kind of a miracle that we can start to generate a lot more volume.
L. Pedersen: Just a few comments to try and bring perspective to this. What we call basic forestry in B.C., which is the law that you need to reforest after you harvest, and you need to manage to a certain species that's ecologically suited, and you need to manage the density to a certain level in your initial prescriptions. We call it basic forestry.
It's an incredibly high bar. It is not basic. It compares on a global scale to any standard anywhere in the world, including Finland and Sweden. It's a very appropriate and, in its own merits, a very intensive activity. Where you get your biggest gain is to capture productivity early on, so getting trees right back in the ground right after harvest, trees that are genetically well-selected and ecologically adapted. We do that.
It then becomes a question of degree about where the next most valuable and economic threshold is. For example, Susanna has outlined that for public expenditures we use a discount rate as low as 2 percent. On some sites with a 2 percent return, commercial thinning can be justified, but the vast majority of B.C., and in particular these sites, are very long rotation sites by virtue of the ecology of the region — the soil productivity, the nutrient and moisture regimes. By long rotation I mean it's highly unlikely that you could intensively manage the average of these sites for anything less than 80 years. You can get some rotations down.
You think about making investments at year 30 that 50 years later you're going to maybe capture a benefit on. You think about, you know, if you were the investor, what return would you be looking for on your capital over that period? Really, what we're largely limited by is a lot of productive capacity limitations. Now, nothing ever holds entirely true everywhere. There will be some exceptions, and I think that's what this is trying to say.
We need to see if we can find some of those exceptions where there can be a reasonable return. Maybe late rotation fertilization rather than mid- or early rotation fertilization, for example, obviously is going to yield a better return.
Lastly, I'd just point out the difference between what Susanna just outlined in Finland — 400,000 operators operating 100 hectares…. They're pretty intimate with their trees. You kind of know them. You kind of know each one, and you can do some really intensive stuff because you're there. You're physically there, and you know your trees, and they know you.
We're on a very extensive forestry model. We don't have that kind of proximity. We're talking about sites that are hundreds of kilometres away from some of the communities. Just the mere notion of dispersing a labour force out there to undertake this intensive activity is a profoundly different kind of model than Finland and Sweden.
I just bring this for perspective, not to be defensive. We do a pretty good job with what's called basic. There are a few things around the margin where you get really good returns. Genetics is one of them. Producing class A seed — we do a very good program in British Columbia for that across a whole array of species. So we're capturing that.
After that, most of the analysis that's been done over decades shows that it's very difficult to justify some of these additional further investments on a really extensive scale. It's different on the coast, with coastal productivity, but in the Interior on the lower productivity sites, which is exactly the region where pine beetle has been most active, there are some limitations.
I don't know if that helps, but I just try to bring some perspective to Sweden and Finland and B.C. and why we do some things in some instances but don't go that extra big distance in other cases.
J. Rustad (Chair): With that, Kevin, over to you for continuation.
K. Kriese: Well said. This slide actually is very similar, carrying on the theme.
Another option we looked at was short rotation plantations, and this pie graph shows the highest productivity sites in B.C. That's the candidate sites that could be eligible for short rotation plantations. "Site index greater than 30" — that means the tree is 30 metres tall at 50 years. That's a pretty good growing site.
You see it's around 400-some-odd-thousand hectares that meet that criteria, and they're almost all on the coast. There's a little bit of this…. Actually, they're doing this in Terrace, part of my world, in the Kalum. They're actually trying to get into some of these kinds of sites, and they're coming in a lot earlier than people ever anticipated. But in the Interior that's about the only place.
We're going to move to the next package, which is the tenure-based options. This has been topical for about three or four decades. Essentially it's back to the discussion we just had, which is: if you change the system, would you incent more people to invest, and would they take a longer-term view, and would they do a bunch of things? Not only the silviculture investments, but there are other management investments like doing inventories and how they engage the public and so on.
The theory is, and there is some evidence to support it, that when you have a longer-term tenure, you're more willing to do that. You'll build a better bridge. You'll build a bridge that's there for 50 years instead of for 20 years.
J. Rustad (Chair): Sorry, I'm just a little confused. Did you already cover off the short rotation plantations?
K. Kriese: I breezed right through it.
J. Rustad (Chair): Breezed right through it — that's what I thought. Okay, thanks.
I'm surprised there weren't more questions about it — when you talk about hybrid species and those sort of things and what we're doing and what other jurisdictions are doing. But I won't worry about it.
K. Kriese: I think Larry's comments covered it off quite well. And the sites are mostly on the coast.
With respect to this, the map shows again our mountain pine beetle sites. It shows you that we do have some area-based tenures. Canfor, Dunkley and West Fraser have area-based tenures. We also have the little area-based tenures — the woodlots, the community forest licences and moving into First Nation woodland licences.
The concept here, which has been advocated by some of the licensees in particular, is: "Take my volume-based tenure, turn it into an area-based tenure, and I will invest, and I'll get a demonstrable increase."
It's really hard to prove what that actual increase would be. There's been some homework done on it to try and figure out whether it's real or not. The best we can ascertain is that — we actually had a discussion about where this number comes from, and we can't figure out exactly how rigorous the analysis was — you might get as much as a 10 percent increase in the long-term timber supply. How that would play into the mid-term is hard to tell.
There could be a potential gain. That's based on some of the evidence of what licensees have told us they would do and what we see as some of their investments. But it's really hard to tell.
As an example, when licensees picked these area-based tenures and they said, "We get better productivity," a lot of the area-based tenures were put on the best productivity sites to start with. So comparing, for example, Canfor's TFL here to some of their other licence areas is not comparing apples to apples. There are some differences inherently.
It's tricky to tell, but certainly it does exist in theory. There is a real interest in it, and there is some experience to show that they do invest more in the inventories and some of those kinds of things, which can definitely increase your productivity. It's certainly there, and there's a big interest in it.
J. Rustad (Chair): If I just may, because I want to ask the example of Dunkley. Maybe that's a very unique example, compared to some other potentials that are out there.
Dunkley, from what I had read through this…. Over the ten years pre–pine beetle that they were managing their licence, they went from I think it was 156,000 cubic metres a year through what they had implemented — predominantly through better inventory, but through also some of their management practices — up to about 260,000 on the same area of the land base, which is pretty sizeable in terms of what that potential could be.
Now, granted, like you say, it may be the good-growing sites in the very specific areas. I know that inventories in other areas have improved as well, which may have seen a gain in those areas anyway. But clearly, through that TFL process there we did see a pretty significant increase in what there was available pre–pine beetle.
J. Snetsinger: I think you're right. They have seen some increases in the volume on the TFL. I think their current AAC, which is more in the long-term view, is around 219,000. Albert, I think that's where we're at.
J. Rustad (Chair): Is that post–pine beetle, Jim?
J. Snetsinger: Yeah. They've harvested and they've salvaged everything they're going to salvage on that TFL now. That's my understanding.
A. Nussbaum: I think part of the change there, Jim — and you alluded to it — is that…. There's been quite a change in the way we view the site productivity in the Interior. It happened in the TFLs first. They were the first ones on the sort of re-evaluation of the productivity, growing capacity, of those sites.
They certainly aren't Sweden, but they were better than probably we initially had…. It's difficult to assess productivity when you're looking at mature and over-mature stands, and then saying: "Okay, how is a juvenile stand going to grow when we stick it in the ground." We've done a lot of work to define what that potential is.
We've kind of reassessed the potential. Dunkley, the licence holder…. The TFL holders were very rapid to pick up on this and really re-evaluate their land-growing potential. The province was a bit slower on its larger volume-based tenures, but I think we've caught up now. Some of the "inventory differences" I think have been addressed.
I think Dunkley is an example of…. In my mind, it's one of the best examples of a tenure that's well managed. I think it is a good example.
Jim or Larry, maybe you guys can speak to it more. I think it's a family-owned company. It sort of has that local presence, and that is the piece of ground they manage. It is a small piece of ground. They know it really well.
It's sort of like that notion of Sweden. They know the trees. So it is a really unique place. It is a place I encourage anyone to look at if they have the opportunity. It's neat.
J. Snetsinger: Just a quick comment. I'm not sure if Larry wanted to jump in there. My experience with the Dunkley tree farm is that they're very aggressive on the reforestation. They plant the highest-quality genetic stock possible. They actually plant higher densities than are required elsewhere in the province to maximize their volume, and they rehabilitate roads and landings as much as possible to maximize the productive growing site on the TFL.
So they look for every opportunity to grow as many trees as possible, and they have an active annual salvage program for windthrow and everything else, to capture as much volume as possible.
J. Rustad (Chair): I believe they have a bit of a philosophy that no tree would fall in the forest that wouldn't be processed.
D. Barnett: I find this conversation very interesting. I don't know, Larry, if you were around in 1989-1990 when we spent a couple of months with Claude Richmond when he was the Minister of Forests, at 108 Resort. We came out with 108 recommendations after so many stakeholders worked on it. One of the main recommendations was that we go to tree farm licences or to area-based tenures. So I find this very interesting. It's like déjà vu all over again.
D. Stewart: I'm Doug Stewart. I'm the director of forest tenures branch. Specifically about this question about increased investment, some of you may recall back in 1987 when Minister Parker and the government wanted to convert about two-thirds of the forest licences in the province to tree farm licences. So there is a public record out there. There were a series of public hearings that happened at that time. Based on public input, that didn't go ahead.
One of the reasons that didn't go ahead was that there wasn't empirical evidence around what the benefit would be in terms of increased timber supply or investment — just the question we're talking about. So based on that, there was some research done in the mid-1990s by some people at UBC. Some of you probably know Peter Pearse. There is a report out. I've provided it as part of the record if some of you want to read it.
Some of the information they found about increased silviculture investment, in particular, is that tree farm licences generally had about a 24 percent better investment in silviculture than forest licences. So that's primarily what we're talking about when we're talking about volume-to-area conversion. It would mostly be forest licences, which is the biggest volume-based tenure, to tree farm licences. But there are other options out there.
When they looked at forest practices, they couldn't come up with a statistical difference, but the general overall trend was that there appeared to be better forest management practices on the tree farm licences. I think a lot of people that have worked with area-based tenures have seen that play out over time.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): You're talking about 1987, and that initiative. I think, actually, Parker was in Golden for a while. He was busy with Evans for a while.
Part of the push-back on that was the social licence aspect. I think the politics of it were very problematic, and I know there were some problems the licensees had. Primarily, it seemed to be that there was this concern about losing the public ability to get on the land. I mean, there were all sorts of things, but pretty clearly, there was discomfort with that direction.
Is your sense that there is enough data, that that can be put on the table so that it would be a compelling case? I know you highlighted one example, but is it something that's really been studied so that you would be able to put information? Or is it, as often happens, a lot of anecdotal information?
D. Stewart: There is some research, but I wouldn't say it's definitive. Probably one of the most important factors is the actual licensee. And we have seen that — as we were talking about the example at Dunkley there — where you have a really good proactive licensee. That makes the biggest difference. So it's not necessarily the tenure type that makes a difference, but it's probably not the most important factor.
J. Rustad (Chair): If I could just add to that, I think the challenge to think about that is that the licensee would not have had the opportunity to do that type of activity on the land base under a volume base. The only way you're going to see those kinds of improvements is, if they have the opportunity, under an area base. Why would they do it when it could be a company down the road that would see the benefit from it?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Here again we're going into a huge discussion, because it depends. Dunkley: we visited there, and you leave with a certain impression of the company — right? You've talked about it. It's a certain type of company. Sometimes area-based…. If you go to a woodlot or something, you see what they're doing there and you think: "Wow, if you could put that on the land base everywhere that would be pretty exciting."
The other part of it, too, is that when you go to certain areas, they will be talking about the owners being based in New York. They're playing the stock exchange. It's a very different sort of feeling that the community has towards the commitment of the company. They don't talk in glowing terms as you and others talk about Dunkley, where it seems embedded, and there's a commitment that's different.
Again, I think it's a really huge and interesting discussion, but one that you'd really want to frame, and you'd really want to approach with an awful lot of information. Donna, you've said that you've already been through a process where it was tried, and the public went "Whoa." And that was when, I think, all companies were.... That was a time when you had to be a B.C. company to participate in this way. Now we are talking about hedge funds and everything else. It's just a different world. So it's an interesting discussion, I think, as we go forward.
J. Rustad (Chair): Well, this has sparked a lot of hands in terms of discussion.
L. Pedersen: Norm, I'd just like to respond to your reference, appropriately, to the need to always be mindful about social licence.
I did attend some of the tree farm licence hearings in the late-'80s that Minister Parker chaired, in particular the ones in Williams Lake that were intensively protested by First Nations communities and environmental advocates. At that time, basically that was a call for more sophisticated forest management, forest management that was more thoughtful about the broad array of values on the landscape.
We didn't have a code. We didn't have land-use plans. Absent that, I would say — and just my opinion — what I thought I saw unfolding was a highly skeptical public saying: "Are you kidding? Not right now. We're not going to intensify and increase your rights at a point in time when we think that timber is already too predominant a force and when there needs to be recognition of other values."
However, from that period to now — and we're all aware; we've talked about it — there has been intensive land use planning. There has been a substantial sophistication and elevation around non-timber values and codification — between the Forest Practices Code, now FRPA. We've got certification. Even companies now use language like corporate social responsibility and social licence. We've been cautioned already in this exercise by some forest companies to stay mindful of that.
I think the environment is different. I can't speculate on whether there's public appetite for changes in tenure. That I don't know. But I do think that the context has changed, so I kind of see the question as being in a slightly different point in time with a different dynamic. I agree you've got to really stay thoughtful about social licence, but perhaps there is more social willingness to change now.
D. Peterson: I would add to Larry's observations because I think the environment is different now. Coming back to your question, Norm, there's limited empirical evidence when you look across the suite at all the tree farm licences and say: "On average, are they better production?" Clearly, there are some that are better. So I think moving to an area-based tenure needs to be viewed as an enabler of better management, but it's not necessarily a guarantee of better management.
Then I add to that that there are significant differences, area to area, across the province around the ability to move to area-based tenure. In some timber supply areas it would be relatively easy, and in others it would be very, very difficult. In some timber supply areas there is more of a social licence at that community level, and the community, the First Nations, etc., are quite supportive. In others there is not that level of social licence.
I think one of the observations I would have from Minister Parker's initiative was that it was viewed as: "This is something we would do everywhere." I think if we tried to move in that same direction now in B.C. we probably wouldn't get universal support. If it was more a premise of, "Are there some locations in the province — for a whole combination of reasons, including social licence, including the commitment of the licensee — where you could move to an area-based tenure," there probably are. I think that conversation would be different than saying: "Should we do it everywhere?"
D. Barnett: I would disagree with the last two speakers. After being through the process, I think there is an appetite there right now in some areas. When I talk to and work with the trappers, the guide-outfitters and all those types of people that use the land base, they talk area-based tenure for forestry. They're very interested in it. I think it's a subject that in some areas could come back on the table for discussion, and in some areas I don't think you'd touch it. You know, one size doesn't fit all.
K. Kriese: Just a commentary back. Our community forest program is actually run…. I mean, there are our area-based tenures. I can't remember when it started, but 12 years ago or ten years ago, with a series of pilots that were proved successful…. Then it moved. It's also done not as a one-size-fits-all program but a program at the right place, the right time, with a lot of careful work to locate it and make it meet the community values.
That's actually an area-based tenure program that has been really well received. It is a symbol that if you do it right, there is a different receptivity. There might be some lessons there around the piloting approach leading ultimately to implementation of a program.
D. Stewart: Just around this concept, it's important to keep in mind that there's kind of a range of how this could be applied where it makes sense. One, you could just convert an individual volume-based tenure to area-based — so one forest licence to a TFL — or you could convert part of a whole timber supply area, or you could convert almost an entire timber supply area. There's kind of a range of different options that could be looked at under this concept, depending on what the land base looks like.
You know, one of the tricks is going to be how you convert people equitably so that everyone gets a fair share of the remaining green timber, has relatively similar access, has relatively similar timber supply projections….
That's the trick on this land base that has been affected by mountain pine beetle. We're also trying to put First Nations on, communities, woodlots. How do you do this conversion and also uphold those licensees' rights by being equitable across the board? It's definitely not easy, but I think it can make sense in certain areas.
D. Barnett: Does Revelstoke not have a tree farm licence — the town?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): The community does.
D. Barnett: The community does. And that works quite productively?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Well, it's a corporation.
D. Barnett: But it seems to be very productive and very successful?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Oh, yeah. I think area-based can work. I'm just saying that it's a really complex issue.
D. Barnett: But there's a good example, right there in Revelstoke.
J. Rustad (Chair): Are any of these issues we're dealing with not complex?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): No, but for Revelstoke I think what they would say is the TFL, when it was controlled by Pope and Talbot, was something that people were very unsatisfied with because they didn't get access. There was frustration, and then, when the community was able to set up the corporation and felt that it then had control of the supply, there was satisfaction.
It's one of those things, I think, like you're saying, that can be either a good idea or a bad idea, depending on how it's structured and the details and everything else. But you're right. Right now people are very satisfied with the setup as it is.
B. Routley: I was going to raise that in other countries…. I think it's in New Zealand or Australia where they have title to the crop if they replant, and they do…. They have a first rotation. I don't know whether that's a hybrid or a different kind of a….
J. Rustad (Chair): That's a form of area tender as well.
B. Routley: Yeah. So that's a different kind. I don't know if you put…? Is that part of our mandate?
J. Rustad (Chair): Moving volume to area was part of our terms of reference, if we deem that to be an opportunity to expand the fibre supply component, so it's part of our discussions for sure.
B. Routley: Well, I think part of the solution…. If it's true that on average, folks that have tree farm licences…. I know it's true, from the tree farm licences in the region I'm most familiar with, that they did spend both their own money and public money.
I think there was a FRDA-1 and a FRDA-2 program way back in the day of BCFP. They spent money on reforestation and even on thinning programs. I know that we had displaced forest workers doing thinning, pruning, spacing. It is true that those kinds of investments are more likely in longer-term tenures.
Yeah, I think it is true that one size doesn't fit all, but if you were going to even broach the subject, some policy lever that talked about a minimum requirement to do some investment that was going to help future communities and that was within the range of what they would want to do anyway would help with making it more palatable to a community.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'm very tempted to jump in with that, but that's now getting into the discussion as to what kinds of recommendations we would want to think about going forward. This is just something that's on the table, if we can keep to that in terms of how our discussion will go here today.
With that, Kevin….
D. Stewart: Okay. We'll try and….
J. Rustad (Chair): Actually, what I'd like to suggest is we take a brief five-minute recess, and then we'll get into the remaining options.
The committee recessed from 2:13 p.m. to 2:27 p.m.
[J. Rustad in the chair.]
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you, Members, for the break.
Kevin, it's back over to you for the continuation of the presentation.
K. Kriese: Okay, so we're into our fifth kind of category, and it's actually related to the merchantability one, but it's a bit of a different lens. We've called this the economics of low-quality stands.
Again, this comes back. A lot of the stands are out there, physically available, not economically merchantable. That has sort of been historic, and that gets worse. This is really looking at policy and investment tools, as opposed to just sort of physical issues inside a TSA that could be pulled, that could potentially sort of change the economics for large baskets of timber. The first one, which we talked about, is bioenergy.
I should say that when we looked at this, this is one of, I guess, the cautions or back to the criteria that need to be considered. When we talk to communities and industry, a lot of them are like, "Well, if you do this, this stuff becomes economic," but what they're really looking for is a public subsidy. That's not eligible under softwood lumber.
So we have not identified a lot of the options that people ask us to take a look at, because of those considerations. There are things that aren't on the table here because they wouldn't meet the softwood lumber tests. These are the ones that we believe would be consistent with our allowances and which, potentially, make good management sense.
The first one is the bioenergy. To go back to this whole issue, there are going to be grey stands out there that no longer make a sawlog. They're still eligible as bioenergy. One of the options is that if you want to, first off, reforest those stands, you can go in and you can actually put a reforestation lens on it and get the wood off the sites so they could actually be rehabilitated and put back into production. That's sort of called a rehabilitation program.
What that does is, as an aside from your primary objective of getting the sites back into productivity, create volume that goes onto the market and that otherwise wouldn’t go. In other words, you're investing in silviculture, and as a by-product, you create a sawlog or a bioenergy log. We can determine for you the number.
In some places — I mentioned the Lakes — like at the bottom end of the Lakes, there are thousands of hectares of these kinds of stands that are sitting there. One of the things we have to cross the bridge of eventually is: does the public go and rehabilitate and plant these stands, or do we wait?
A lot of these stands will regenerate eventually, but it'll be slower. It might take ten, 20, 30 or 40 years, and you won't get the same quality of second-growth stand as you would have if we go in and actively, intensively plant it ourselves. You'll have more dispersed spacing. You won't have the same tree species or quality. You won't have the genetically improved seed and so on. So you could put a forest management lens on rehabilitating these stands and create volume out the back end.
J. Rustad (Chair): Sure.
E. Foster: To that, if we look at moving forward with that model and we look at the fibre as a bioenergy source, there is a point, too, where it's not economical for the people. Do we look at investing in having the dead trees removed?
K. Kriese: Yes, and that's kind of what we're looking at. You could have a program to remove the dead trees for a period of time. But I think your point is: this doesn't last forever. This might last for one, two or three decades or some period of time, but eventually you're done, and this program dies off. Then you're back to a future state that doesn't have this type of opportunity in it.
E. Foster: But hopefully the mid-term timber supply will be up, and then we go back to the residuals from the sawmills.
K. Kriese: That could be the option, yeah.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just for some clarity, then, with this. The benefit around this, of course, would be the opportunity for the biofibre for today from a timber supply component. We're primarily dealing with the sawlog component, of course, as part of what we're looking at as a committee.
The reforestation would mean, as you say, instead of a 20-, 30-, 40-year regen delay and an inferior stock and growing type, you would end up with stands that would not be on in the mid-term but would be coming on early into the long-term supply that would be eligible for fertilization or other types of silviculture activities.
D. Peterson: John, there would be one more potential benefit. If you look at this picture of that stand — and this is actually a fairly good-quality stand, compared to some of the ones we're looking at — there would be some trees that you could still make lumber from, but you couldn't afford to go in there and log that stand now.
J. Rustad (Chair): So 5, 10, 20 percent sawlog component that would come out of that.
A. Prasad: These could be the stands that we were talking about this morning — those low-volume, beetle-kill stands that weren't economical to log otherwise. So we've put a reforestation focus on them, and we get that timber. Plus we bring them back on stream.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): The suggestion was that these are the things that…. You're only putting forward ideas that are in play, given our obligations? How completely in play is this? Is this something that…? Given the constraints that we have with the considerations we have around fiscal constraints and all the other constraints, how in play is an idea like this?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: It would be mostly, really, perhaps a fiscal constraint. We do already, for example with BCTS, collaborate on this kind of work, and the Forests for Tomorrow program does this work. There is no other reason why we couldn't engage in this type of work. It's more like the fiscal constraint, because we are doing these for forest management purposes.
D. Peterson: If the sawlogs, the lumber-quality logs are auctioned, then that gets around any kind of trade consideration. So then it's really just a fiscal….
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. So it's purely just because you've tested it — right? You've done it with timber sales.
Some Voices: Yeah.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay, that's useful.
B. Stewart: Just on this reforestation model, I have a couple of questions on the cost. What is the cost per hectare of doing reforestation with the best available genetic material?
J. Rustad (Chair): The silviculture component that comes off the stand is about $3.50 per cubic metre, I think. So if a stand is typically….
D. Peterson: About $1,500 to $2,000 a hectare.
B. Stewart: So just in this scenario…. Actually, it's good you brought up the trade issue because of the…. So you're suggesting that if we auction off the timber…. This is the timber that's pine beetle–infected. It may only have a biomass availability by the time we get in there to do this? The other stands that are these ones that have gone from maybe 200 cubic metres of material down to 100 because of the effect, and they're going to be picked off….
The big issue there is the economics for the forest companies to harvest this. Are you suggesting that maybe with some construction of roads and reforestation program behind that, we can still meet trade legality in terms of…? As long as we sell the logs on a fair and even basis, whether the province constructs the roads and does the reforestation to get this stuff up and running, we can still meet the terms of….
D. Stewart: We have been doing that, as Susanna said. We have been doing that in the past. I would suggest that probably it's a conversation we should leave for another time as far as exactly how we could construct it that way, Ben.
The short answer is yes. We actually are doing this on a relatively limited basis. But we are doing it now, and it meets the test.
B. Stewart: I'm just doing the math on 17 million hectares, figuring out what the cost is and what's in the realm of possibility.
A. Nussbaum: I just want to clarify: it's not really close to 17.3 million. That is the gross amount that's impacted, but a lot of areas are outside of the timber-harvesting land base or they have only a small component of pine. We've done lots of work around that.
The area of concern is a subset of that. We can get into the details of how that's assessed, but it's certainly not 18.1 million. That's sort of a topic for another day. The area of concern is a couple of million hectares. It's still a sizeable area.
K. Kriese: The next one — which gets the same output, but it's a different focus on it — is bioenergy calls. Some of this wood…. If you had a high enough electricity price, some of these programs would become economic. There has been discussion about whether or not the…. You've seen that happen, where some of the operators are trying to get at this kind of stuff just because they can.
One of the things they've done some homework on is: if prices of electricity were higher, when would that turn on some of these kinds of stands? That is, certainly, an option that's been promoted. Susanna can describe…. They've done a fair bit of research around what it would take to turn on some of these stands in terms of electricity price.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: I think that once you can hear…. The gist of it is that it is feasible in the sense that we have had two phases of bioenergy calls already. This would probably take rather the form of the phase 2 call that we had. But that goes, then, back to a whole lot of energy policy, and what that looks like. That would have to be, then, a much larger conversation than just the forest management side of that — right?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Just judging from what was put forward in that leaked cabinet document, it seemed to point that way. In our terms of reference, you could read it as saying: "Well, you better be careful with that, because there's not a lot of room within B.C. Hydro like there was a few years ago to go after these…."
I mean, that's how I read it — that if you think we're going to get through this with an energy purchase agreement, things have shifted. I mean, that's how I read that. Also, there are probably other complications, too, that would have to be discussed at a future time.
D. Peterson: One last piece on this, because I think Kevin is probably going to move to the next slide. This is all around bioenergy. There actually is, I'm utterly convinced, a longer-term opportunity around other bioproducts. Those other bioproducts are much higher value. They're actually much higher than any kind of bioenergy, but unfortunately none of that is really commercialized right now.
So it's not really in the realm of realistic to be putting in front of communities or anything else, as far as a short-term opportunity. But I'm utterly convinced, whether it's five years out or ten years out, that will be the opportunity for this province. I just think the timing doesn't quite work for us now, unfortunately.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Industry often says that it's a minimum of ten years when they go from pilots to demo plans to the full production. Considering that we are not really, in many of the technologies even, in pilot stages yet, we are probably looking at ten or 20 years before some of these opportunities could materialize.
K. Kriese: The next one, which you'll hear a lot about when you go locally…. Licensees, in particular, are very fond of this proposal. There are lots of areas. We talked about haul costs. Haul distance is one of the primary factors that make stands marginal. If you're more than five, six or seven hours away from a mill, it's not economic.
Well, haul costs are a factor of distance and speed. Basically, what the proposal is, is if somebody upgrades their roads and they can drive faster, they can turn what is currently a 60-kilometre-per-hour road….
E. Foster: I might interject here. WorkSafe B.C. will have something to say about that.
K. Kriese: It probably will.
E. Foster: No, no. Believe me. Read the paper tomorrow.
K. Kriese: So there is an opportunity, and there are very specific places where licensees will say: "This kind of investment would make these kinds of stands economic. Unfortunately, that upfront capital cost they couldn't then fund because the marginal economics are not there.
The concept here is multi-resource roads where you're also maybe having a benefit on local communities. If you're going into remote places, or there are resorts, or there is mining, or there are other places, it could qualify as a public infrastructure investment and have the side benefit of improving things from a forest management and forest operations cost.
E. Foster: Essentially, the Crown pays now through the appraisal system for the deductions that the licensees get for road development, silviculture and so on. Is what you're saying that when we get to this very, very low value product, we'd have to pick that tab up directly rather than deducting it from the silviculture or from something else?
K. Kriese: Yes. That's right. They're on minimum stumpage, and therefore they won't invest.
G. Loeb: There's actually no cost recognition. If they're on negative stumpage, they don't pick those costs up.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): So again, there are interesting ideas, but both have costs associated with them that are a challenge for the mandate that the committee's been given. It seems to me that you have colleagues working on the natural resource road act which seems to be pushing in a different direction in terms of the government's involvement with roads. So this would be an interesting piece to put forward to government. Okay, that's cool.
K. Kriese: I mean, the key one is that you will hear about this. Every local area will have their particular West Road, North Road, and you'll hear about them. Those are the things they're going to bring forward.
D. Peterson: Of course, similar to the last one, this would have to be trade-compliant. There are some pretty strong parameters around that when it comes to this kind of investment as well.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just along these lines, one of the things that I've heard brought forward as an idea is extending the length of trucks, adding on an extra trailer, extending the amount of volume that could be carried which could extend the distance. So I'm assuming that this is kind of part of that discussion. Or is that a separate…?
K. Kriese: That would be a separate discussion. We haven't sort of factored that one in. I think you're right. I'm also hearing that. Just because you can't hire truckers these days, therefore you're going to have to make longer trucks because you can….
A Voice: Longer, higher, and wider.
K. Kriese: That's, I think, a part. There are other things that can be done sort of more incrementally. We didn't factor that one in specifically.
J. Rustad (Chair): The reason why I say that it because obviously if you're carrying 50 percent more volume, you could be going out a little bit farther in terms of your rotation period of time.
K. Kriese: So the last part is that we try and pull the composite scenario development. We'll show you some pictures which are the summary of those four timber supply areas that had the work done on them during the mid-term timber supply project. These are basically the results — that ministry staff and the forest licensees tried to find that kind of more realistic, although not fully assessing all the trade-offs. So these ones kind of start to make the most sense in this part of the world. And then pulling them together into a package.
Interestingly enough, when you see them, you're going to see we didn't include all of them in all scenarios. There was a bit of judgment during that project as these are the ones that we think merit exploration and doing the analysis and then presenting the results on. So there is lots more information that could be presented.
The first one we're going to show is the Lakes. Interesting here, too, is we show where we were in the past in terms of pre-harvest level and the beetle uplifts and then the current allowable cut at two million cubic metres. And in this particular management unit, the mid-term timber supply working group basically identified the mitigation opportunity largely around old-growth management areas, scenic areas and changing some but not all of the ungulate winter ranges.
So for example, they recommended not changing all of the caribou corridors but only doing some minor modifications, because their judgment was that it was, first off, either not realistic — it's operationally tough — or not viable from a community perspective. And that identified…. An increase of 100,000 cubic metres was sort of the scenario that came out of that.
Now, I come back again to the composite scenario. What we didn't show in this scenario is the other things added in. For example, this doesn't add in a fertilization scenario, and it doesn't add in…. Obviously, we didn't model anything on changing dairy-based tenures, and it doesn't add in the low stands.
We could, in the case of Lakes…. With the work with Babine, we actually have got some runs that would show — if you also did, for example, the marginal stands, the 250,000 cubic metres…. That would then add up something else. Then if you also added in fertilization, that would add in something else.
So you can combine these in different ways. The scenario that we're presenting is what came out of that project up until Christmas.
J. Rustad (Chair): In terms of the Lakes, in terms of some of the scenarios looking at how you access that fibre over time and carry it through, you can actually get out to a cut. I think it was around 1.1 million carried forward for 20 or 25 years. Then there was a drop-off from there back down to something closer to — I think it was — 500,000 or 600,000. That was combining a bunch of different scenarios, though.
K. Kriese: It would be interesting. We could show that picture, but it was like John said. Step down, and then you end up at virtually the same midterm harvest level. You've just moved the harvest up and filled it back in with fertilization.
L. Pedersen: I just had a question on the harvest flow projection, the precipitous 2 million to 500,000 drop. When you show the 100,000 uplift, that's the benefit of some additional treatments. Can you flow that differently going right back to the first decade? Could you have a further series of step-downs that, for example, continued to decline at — pick an amount — say, 5 or 10 percent a decade, maybe dropping down a bit below the 500,000 but not until year 40, for example? I'm just kind of trying to look at the area under the graph and see if you could flow that a bit less aggressively than harvest flow options.
A. Prasad: No, not without dropping below that mid-term level, because that front…. Those forest tenures are basically pine. If that pine is not there, we're going to have to move everything forward. So if you want a flow…. You can't be at a 2 million level is what I'm saying.
A. Nussbaum: Larry, let's see if I understood what you asked. You're asking if we could take the wood that was harvested due to the lifting of constraints and flow it sort of towards the front. So we're not really robbing from the 500,000, or we're just modifying it slightly. What we're really doing is taking the liberated wood through different management practices and putting it in the front end. We would probably have to test it. I'm not sure that we could bunch it all to the front, but we could probably do more than we have here. There's probably some ability to create a bit of a step.
There's one other point of clarity that I want to point out here. This looks like a very precarious drop. Part of the drop is actually a changed area-based management, which is not articulated on this graph. The pre-uplift level of 1.5 million is really no longer relevant here because they created a couple of community forests that they pulled out of this TSA. The baseline…. And they're still contributing volume to this neighbourhood. Something probably closer to 1.2 million or 1.3 million is really the pre-uplift level for what remains of this land base.
The problem is that more than one thing has moved. The beetle has gone through. The land has been removed. You know what I mean. So what is that pre-uplift level? I think it's closer to 1.3 million or 1.2 million. When people look at this, they go: "It's such a huge drop." Well, the community forest is still there, and by the way, it's also been impacted because it has the beetle in it too, but it's still contributing to the neighbourhood, if you know what I mean.
The fibre basket isn't quite as dire as 1.5 million to 500,000. It's 1.2 million or 1.3 million to 500,000. It's still terrible. Don't get me wrong. But just so you know, the community forests came after the 1999 that we use as that pre-uplift level.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): With these scenarios, if you group them all together…. It's interesting work. It's good work that's been done. But with this combination of scenarios, do you have to make changes that then apply to the whole province? For instance, if you are…. Or can you do these things without legislative change and just in this particular area? That's one of the things — just to get at the sense of the scope.
If you're only talking about making changes to something here, when you do it here, then it becomes fair game everywhere else? In that case, do you need all the combination of changes to be applied to the province and then, presumably, only applied here? Is it possible that you could only apply it in one place and not have licensees or users in other areas say: "How come they get to do it there but we don't get to do it here? That's not fair"? Could you give us a sense of how that all works?
K. Kriese: Maybe I'll jump to the next slide and try and answer the question practically, from the Lakes.
This particular scenario represents changes that could all be done just locally, I think — I've just got to doubly make sure — and wouldn't require any legislative changes. There would be sort of a precedent, and people saying, "Why here, and why not everywhere else?" for sure. But I think it could be done locally.
Some of the other changes we talked about…. Particularly the harvest flow, if you brought that in, would require at least a change in policy. So there would need to be some provincial work to provide different guidance in terms of the social objectives. At least, that's what we think would be required.
J. Rustad (Chair): Sorry, that would be provincial work in nature, but it could be applicable to just one supply area?
K. Kriese: That's correct. The way it would still work out is that you could get provincial work that says, "Here are the new principles and policy under which you'll operate," and then it would be operationalized differently in each management unit.
D. Peterson: So if I could help…. These all represent — it would look to me like — social choices. So then you could define it to say: "In this particular area, because of community concerns and all the rest of it, here's the social choice that is relevant." Well, that won't necessarily be the same social choice in another part of the province. It would open the door — yes — for other parts of the province to say, "Well, does it make sense for us to change visual quality objectives?" but you wouldn't necessarily have the same social choice in each community.
A. Nussbaum: When I look at it, I think of it slightly differently. You have to do an awful lot of actions here to get a 100,000-cubic-metre response, while in other units you can get a response far easier. What it tells me is that the Lakes is a pretty tough scenario in terms of…. You can't liberate a huge amount of wood through constraints alone. That's sort of what I take from the graph.
Look at all the things you need to do here. You're sort of changing your management framework, so there is lots that needs to be done. The response is 20 percent of the reduced AAC, but singlehandedly, it's not a saviour, in my mind. Larry, you might have a different view of what you're seeing.
L. Pedersen: No, I'm actually just thinking of Norm's question. Right on the face, the answer to your question is: yes, you can do this locally without creating a sense of provincial entitlement elsewhere. That can be done.
Even the notion of changing harvest flow policy as a matter of social choice can be done specific to a unit. That's a simple matter of a letter from the minister. He has the authority to give that direction to the chief forester for consideration under section 8 of the act. There is an example. There's historical precedence of that in Clayoquot Sound, where there was a specific letter written specific for Clayoquot Sound. So it can be done.
I think sort of the heart of your question is: well, what about the other guy saying: "Well, hold on just a minute. It doesn't matter where I am. I'm in the Strathcona. I'd sure like to get rid of my VQOs"?
Well, I think this is a pretty unique operating context, this challenge. I think you could pass a red-face test if you got as far as saying that you're going to make some different changes here, in response to this catastrophe, that don't apply elsewhere. My experience would say that you could do that legitimately without acting inappropriately.
A Voice: That answered my question. That was exactly what I wanted to know.
N. Macdonald: Just for the chief forester, then. When you're given — I think you said it was under section 8 — a ministerial directive where they sort of lay out in the letter, for a chief forester, is that something that you read and take into consideration, but you still have a place that you don't go beyond? How does that work, as the person who's sort of in charge of all of these things? There are always going to be political pressures — right? We work in a completely different….
L. Pedersen: I can explain how I viewed this in my term as chief forester. The legislation says that the chief forester has the authority to make the AAC decision. He or she should consider the following criteria: the productivity of the area, non-timber uses — all of those things that are reflected in a forecast. Then it has a specific reference, and, also, consider the social and economic objectives of the Crown, as expressed by the minister for the area, the region and the province.
The minister has expressed those through a series of letters over time. The original letter that I worked under was written by Andrew Petter, I think, in 1993. More or less, it said this. It said that the province values the important contribution of the forest industry. The province values the jobs that are derived from the industry. If changes are being considered, changes should be brought about in a manner that reflects the important values in the forest, including the contribution to the provincial economy.
On the surface, that sounds like: "Oh, wow. What would you do with that?" When you look at these different harvest flow options…. You could drop down really fast, or you could drop down in a series of steps. You could drop right to the bottom. What I felt was appropriate to interpret in that letter was: manage the rate of change thoughtfully and carefully, so wherever possible, if it needed to be brought down now — it could be brought down in a series of successive incremental steps in the future — that was way better than continuing to run it at a high level and then having a precipitous decline.
In a way, I would say that letter actually governed the harvest flow policy, the direction we gave to the analysts, and then how the chief forester looked at it.
To the second part of your question: could it actually dictate what I must do or what the chief forester must do? As a matter of administrative law and by virtue of the structure of the legislation, it's something that the chief forester is obligated to consider. The chief forester has the duty to determine how much weight they would place on that expression from the minister, that expression of the social and economic objectives of the Crown.
So in the final analysis, as a matter of administrative law, it's still the chief forester's duty to stop and think about that and then decide what to do with it, not take it blindly at face value and say: "It means I must do this all of the time."
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. Just to understand, when I would read your findings, you would address it in what you had written out. You'd explain how you had looked at it and what you came up with?
A Voice: That's correct.
L. Pedersen: One final comment. That notion of, you know, dropping down to nothing. We collectively, in discussion with the experts and others, came up with a set of criteria that tried to describe what that mid-term appropriately should look like from a forest management perspective as well as taking into account this notion of intergenerational equity. I won't lose you with the details. I'll just say we had criteria that said we'll only let it come down so far if it's within our control, if it's manageable by setting today's harvest rate and impacting that mid-term in the future.
In some instances that led to very significant declines in AACs, particularly on the north Island, for example, in the Kingcome timber supply area — a very large upfront decline in order to preserve that mid-term.
K. Kriese: So that's the Lakes.
Next we talk about Quesnel. The potential increase is up to 1.55 million cubic metres. Those are VQOs. In this case — again, the scenarios are all different — it was eliminating partial retention VQOs but changing retention to partial retention — so it wasn't eliminating visual quality but modifying it downwards in terms of its emphasis — removing wildlife tree patches and these conservation legacy areas, which are a type of wildlife tree retention, and harvesting timber on some of the less productive sites and harvesting old-growth management areas in some zones.
Again, the Cariboo-Chilcotin land use plan has a different framework. They said: "Well, we wouldn't go and harvest old-growth management areas in those zones over there, but in these zones, because of the direction of the land use plan, that might be worth consideration."
That's the criteria that led to this particular scenario, an increase up to 1.55 million cubic metres.
D. Peterson: To a certain extent, that was getting at your question earlier around what's reasonable. So this didn't bring everything in. It brought a bit of an evaluation of what's reasonable.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): You're sort of going to the top level of what you think could fly, and so this is as good as you could think was possible that you could get. Those are the scenarios you're laying out for us.
J. Rustad (Chair): Just with that one option. This is just the option on…. If I'm right about that number, that's just the option on the constraints. There's still the volume. There are still other things that could be considered. Running one option, this is what it would mean.
A. Nussbaum: Norm, for clarity, what these composites scenarios are, are the constraint composite scenarios. They don't have the other bits in them. This is what we were preparing prior to this. It's just that one component.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay.
K. Kriese: Okay. Then Williams Lake. The picture starts to look very similar. The increase is potentially up to 3.1 million, from the current 1.9. That includes harvesting stands closer to a minimum harvest volume criteria, harvesting all OGMAs and increasing the THLB by allowing harvesting on steeper slopes.
Again, those are things that weren't thought of elsewhere. Those are the things that were considered by this particular group as being potentially useful in this particular area. And you can see the size of the opportunity.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I'm sorry. I don't understand the difference here with the old-growth management. In the other areas you're not considering harvesting all of the old-growth management — are you?
D. Peterson: The difference — and this was actually a group that I was part of from the very start — is that a different group of foresters came to a different conclusion of what's reasonable, which is why, then, it isn't an exact measure, by any means.
This is a different group of foresters, still operating in the same land use plan area, but the ones in Williams Lake said, "We think this is reasonable," and the ones in Quesnel said: "We would define 'reasonable' slightly differently."
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. Just to be clear, the old-growth management is spatial in this area? Then that whole land use plan that people went through during the '90s — that would be reopened. That's the thinking?
D. Peterson: Yes.
Again, technically I believe what they were thinking of was that this wouldn't require a complete reopening of the land use plan. It's a redefinition of it.
I think their premise around that was…. Again, none of it's hard and fast, by any means. Their premise was that you still manage to old growth over time, but when you state that, there's a time period, because of the impact of beetles, that we won't have the same amount of old growth. Then in a hundred years we'll work back up to those old-growth targets.
Their premise, not that it was at all tested or not, was that still was consistent with the land use plan.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): All right.
K. Kriese: A comment, too, on this piece of work is the issue of what's reasonable. Certainly, I think the industry participants in this were saying: "We think this scenario is reasonable." The government staff were saying: "We're not taking a position on this. What we're trying to do is find a way of presenting an analytical scenario to present to decision-makers, to say, 'Do you want to go down this…?'"
I think it's really important.... The ministry staff didn't come in and say: "We think this is right or wrong." It comes back to the point that we hadn't done all the work to analyze the pros and the cons and the habitat supply values, and so on.
A. Nussbaum: I think, also, you've got to realize that four different groups, probably, and four different dynamics and four different results…. These were not forced to be harmonized in any way.
Again, I do believe that the level of risk assessment and stuff is quite different between them. I think in the Prince George case there was an awful lot of pondering of consequence. I'm not sure it's quite the same depth in every group. It's not a homogenous product, by any means.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: I also feel that this would be kind of like an iterative process. For example, we created these types of scenarios. What the ministry staff is now doing is creating a wildlife habitat supply analysis that allows us to identify, for example, those kinds of impacts these scenarios would have.
Now, after you would then look at those results, you probably would want to go back to the table and say, "By the way, here is more information on the impacts of these scenarios," and have that conversation and potentially, then, go back and have some different kind of scenario you would be interested in looking at.
D. Peterson: For context — and I come back to the phrase Albert used earlier — this exercise initially started with the question: is this a stone we should turn over or not? It wasn't really started by trying to define what a reasonable scenario is or anything. It's just: can we get an idea of what the opportunity is so that we can decide whether we really think anyone should even turn over the stone and look at it?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Yeah, that makes sense. Okay.
B. Routley: I don't know if I didn't hear correctly, but I thought Albert said something about Prince George. There's no sheet here for Prince George.
A Voice: We’ll get there.
K. Kriese: Maybe it's the time, that the other scenario is Prince George. We just didn't have….
A. Nussbaum: I'd like to speak to Prince George.
K. Kriese: We'll do a verbal.
A. Nussbaum: We're going to come clean here, because, you know, it is the way it is.
A Voice: Is this the only time? Just today?
A. Nussbaum: It's the only time.
J. Rustad (Chair): Now, now, be nice here, Members. [Laughter.]
A. Nussbaum: So I have your attention now.
We did a lot of work for the mitigation scenario. We have discovered what we think is an error in some of the modelling. Basically, we went back, and we started over again.
The results are…. I mean, the base case hasn't changed much, but some of the response scenarios are different than what we had in the appendix that is currently posted on our web. We are feverishly rerunning those forecasts, and I'll have them for you.
Basically, what happened is we found an error in the analysis that was too optimistic in terms of response. We're coming back with some figures that we…. You know, it's the kind of thing where these are very big, complex models, and we found an error.
That's coming clean, and we will show them to you again. The inkling that I've seen is that, for example, there still is, you know, the magnitude of the response. I think the order of the response is still similar, but the magnitude has changed some.
What was the run that we had yesterday, Atmo, with the seven…?
A. Prasad: We did a run. For Prince George the midterm is still 6.4 million, as was previously reported. When we removed the old-growth order, it only brought it up to 7.7 million. We had previously reported 9-point-something.
A. Nussbaum: That's why we're feverishly working through all of those scenarios again.
A. Prasad: We're checking the numbers. We're checking it twice.
A. Nussbaum: Seven times. Anyway, that's the lowdown on that.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay.
H. Bains: If we could go back to the last slide, and compare that with Quesnel, it says "Years from 2010" at the bottom. When I'm looking at these two, so that I understand how this is calculated…. In both scenarios, actually, after about 15 years or thereabouts, you could see the drop. In Quesnel it took almost 60 years to uplift the AAC, but here we went up after about 40 years.
Is that a different kind of stand, or is there more old growth here? What's the reason for going up sooner in one area than another?
A. Prasad: One of the biggest differences is that we have different assumptions for Quesnel and for Williams Lake. In Quesnel the minimum harvest volume that we use, the criterion we use, is 120 cubic metres per hectare. In Williams Lake we use 65. That accounted for a big part of that.
The other thing is there are differences in species structure. Quesnel has a higher percentage of pine than Williams Lake TSA. In Williams Lake TSA a lot of the pine — we've done some other work — is way out west. That didn't contribute that much to it, so it was mostly the stands east of the Fraser River that contributed to Williams Lake.
D. Peterson: What this really points out is what Kevin said right at the very beginning. Each of these potential options has a huge difference in each TSA for a variety of reasons.
Another reason why there's such a difference between Quesnel and Williams Lake…. They're both very similar. The farther west you go, the dryer, the poorer-quality timber. The farther east you go, you get into the foothills of the mountains, and it's almost a rain forest.
In Quesnel a big part of that rain forest, which is higher productivity, isn't in the TSA. It's in the tree farm licence that we just showed on an earlier map, whereas in Williams Lake it's actually in the TSA. That, then, gives more opportunities for the Williams Lake TSA than it does for Quesnel.
B. Routley: The other day — I guess it was Monday — we were talking about the area that's outside of the harvesting area. I don't see any of those brought into the models. I thought we were going to hear something about that.
J. Rustad (Chair): Are we talking about parks?
B. Routley: No, Larry was talking about…
A Voice: …the lower merchantability standards.
A. Nussbaum: I think it was economic land base and so on that we were talking about.
B. Routley: Go ahead. Tell us more about parks.
A. Nussbaum: Did you want to return to parks?
B. Routley: You're going to warm up your chainsaw now?
A. Nussbaum: I added a slide to the end of this presentation today, so if you could just scroll right down to the last slide, maybe.
A Voice: You've changed it since this morning.
A. Nussbaum: Atmo, go ahead. This is your slide.
A. Prasad: I was just trying to attempt to talk about what makes up the timber harvesting land base, the general practices we use. What is current practice? What are licensees doing, or what have they done in the recent past? That's what goes into our data package. That's what gets reviewed publicly, and everybody gets to comment on that.
We also do some sensitivity analyses on changing those assumptions. In Prince George one of the things we did was that we did a lot of work there trying to figure out what the timber harvesting land base is. That took about a year's work of discussion with licensees and all concerned.
For example, there we reduced the minimum merchantability criteria. I think it was 182 cubic metres per hectare for road areas and a higher number for the areas accessed by rail. We reduced that by 10 percent, and we increased the round-trip time, so it accessed more of that land base to increase the timber harvesting land base. We found that we could increase the timber supply by 10 percent doing that.
We did another sensitivity analysis in Williams Lake. We just said: "Okay, under the current climate those areas that have a nine-hour cycle time or 11-hour cycle time are probably not economical." We'll see what effect that would have, if we took that out of the timber harvesting land base rather than having it in there. It had a big impact in the short and long term, but not much of an impact in the mid-term, because we were taking out a lot of low-volume pine stands.
We do those kinds of things just to say: "Okay, what's reasonable?" Under the current climate we probably won't be accessing those long-haul-distance stands.
A. Nussbaum: In Williams Lake I think the long-haul distances are out west. By reducing the cycle time, what you do is you take the west side of the Williams Lake TSA, and you say it's out of bounds. It doesn't affect the mid-term, because the mid-term green wood tends to be on the west side, and it tends to be well within the nine-hour cycle time.
These are the types of things we can do in order to explore how sensitive the mid-term is to the assumptions that make up the timber harvesting land base. This is what we were talking about on Monday. These are the two sensitivities we had. Both of them were extensive efforts to try and define first, the economic THLB, which is the first challenge, and then to define for decision-makers how sensitive their decisions might be if our criteria are overstated or understated. It could be either way.
A. Prasad: In almost every analysis we do some kind of sensitivity analysis of adding lower marginal stands into the timber harvesting land base — what if that's possible? We give the chief forester an idea of what might be possible.
A Voice: Or pull some out.
A. Prasad: Or pull some out. It depends on with what confidence the data shows that that area would be accessible or not.
L. Pedersen: Atmo, you said that in Williams Lake it impacted the short term and the long term but not the mid-term. Does that mean that the mid-term trough was not as sustained, that it wasn't for as long a period of time at the lower level? In other words, you could step down to it without going down to it so quickly in the early decades? Or do you still drop down to it?
A. Prasad: It's still a drop down to the mid-term, but you're starting from a lower level because you took all that pine out. The mid-term, like Albert explained, is mostly non-pine from the east. So taking that west out didn't change that mid-term.
L. Pedersen: But there's still a benefit to overall supply over time by getting a short-term and a long-term benefit.
A. Prasad: Oh, yes. Of course.
L. Pedersen: So it still helps the timber supply area over the whole of its time horizon.
A. Prasad: For sure. There was a significant drop in the short and the long term, but not in the mid-term.
A. Nussbaum: What it really says is that the stands we're accessing in that critical mid-term period are closer, and the pine stands that we're trying to liquidate now will come back after the mid-term is over. They're the ones that are at the far-flung reaches of the TSA, which is very important for decision-makers to understand when they're trying to figure out how sensitive the mid-term is to how the timber harvesting land base was defined.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): So the information that we're seeing here. We saw that first when there was a report that came up on the Internet and then was taken down. Then it was released publicly. That was that work— right?
A. Nussbaum: Yes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): It sounds like there were different groups, different areas that were doing separate projects. I think in Prince George you found that the modelling was not right, that it needed to be fixed. Did that trigger, then, looking at the modelling that was done in the other areas as well? So you've gone…
A. Nussbaum: Yes.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): …back and you've checked? Okay. All right. Good.
A. Nussbaum: See, I practise.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Good. Okay.
A. Nussbaum: A little stressed out there.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): A busy evening.
K. Kriese: There is a bit of a lesson on that too. One of the challenges for us is that any of these processes…. There are not only technical issues that you need to verify operationally with licensees and then social-choice issues where you need to check in with the public and decision-makers and so on. Usually, these processes take a long time, and they benefit from that transparent process where we can iterate through it. We find errors. We check assumptions. That's how, ultimately, you get to a pretty robust assumption.
That's why some of these things…. You know, we want to be really cautious, to say that these really are bookmarks and they are scenarios that haven't had the full scrutiny, haven't had that process. As we get into them, people find things that we missed. They say: "Oh, jeez. They didn't look at that." We go: "Yeah, you're right." So the transparency improves the quality quite a bit.
A. Nussbaum: And the faster you move, the more frequently you make mistakes, so that is also a bit of a challenge. The longer these models are out there, though, and the more they get kicked around, the more robust they've become. Things can change because people give you input, you change the parameters that run the model, or you could trip over something that wasn't what you intended.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): All right. Well, I'm starting to move to process now. I'm trying to figure out how this all works. But I don't want to preclude any….
J. Rustad (Chair): That's fine, because that's going to be a little bit about what our next topic is going to be.
If anybody has any other questions on the presentation we've had here today, which has been very extensive in terms of the options and things…. I guess I'll just throw onto the table: are there any options that you were thinking about that you didn't see, that we should be thinking about in terms of possibilities or that we want to ask as to why it may not have been presented?
Okay. Well, that's good. So if something does come up, though, as part of the public consultation or through the process, of course, we'll have the ability to be able to run some scenarios and try to get some feedback and information as that process unfolds.
Members, at this point we have been through forestry 101 and probably forestry 202 — maybe even forestry 303 — when you look at the extensiveness of the information that we have gone through over the last couple of weeks. I know it's extensive. I know we also have a fair bit of reading. There will be a binder that comes out on each of the supply areas which will have a lot of the information in it. I know the ministry is in the process of preparing that for us.
The next steps going forward are going to be to try to compile what we have just gone through over the last two weeks into a one- or two-pager that will be the basis of the consultation that we are going to go out with into communities in terms of these discussions.
What I've asked the ministry to try to put together from the presentations is to put that together in a format that describes what the problem is that we're facing: the pine beetle has impacted these areas, and here's where the supply is going to drop. Perhaps an overview blurb in terms of what that general impact throughout the area is, and then a list of kind of the options that we're looking at — obviously not to the extent that we have just gone through. That would be way too much information to put out on an initial paper.
Then the question that will go to the communities as we go around and to the provincial organizations, to the companies, to the NGOs, etc., is: "Let's have a discussion around this. Let us know what you think. Give us some feedback on what some of these options are." When we go around we'll have a chance for a little bit of dialogue and to be able to answer some questions as we go through communities as well.
The detail, of course, that we have gone through will be available on the website, as anything we have discussed here obviously is going to be posted. As that information becomes available, it'll be linked so that when people are going through that question — if they want to go and, for example, look at volume stands as an option — they'll be able to try to look into the more detailed information that will be available on the site.
I guess the question I've got for the members is: with regards to the paper that goes out, do you all want to see that paper in advance to going out and have some commentary on it? Would you like it if it just went through Norm and myself as, I guess you could say, a sub-committee of the committee to approve that before it goes out in terms of the invitations and that process? What would you like to do?
E. Foster: I'm most comfortable with you and Norm putting the paper together, but I really would like to see it before it goes out, even just as information.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I was going to suggest that we circulate it to the group. I think if I've learned one thing here, it's that there are perspectives that people are bringing to it. I wouldn't bring the full spectrum. I think everyone's got something to add. It's not that big a group. I think it wouldn't take that long to put it out there and get feedback so everyone's comfortable and familiar with it.
J. Rustad (Chair): What I'd like to suggest, then, is…. I'm not sure what the time frame is. My hope is that we'd be able to, before the end of this week, have it out to the members to have a review.
If that is possible, it would be great if we could perhaps have a sign-off by Friday afternoon on it, when it goes out — just have a review to look at it. If there are some big issues that come up, then maybe we could schedule a conference call. But if not, then kind of have a sign-off so that Kate's in a position where she can then use that to send out for invitations starting the beginning of next week.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): Okay. Sounds reasonable.
J. Rustad (Chair): Everybody comfortable with that? So look for your e-mails on Friday, I think, if that's possible.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: We have of course drafted the background and so on and so forth. I think that the questions I have for the committee are: is it your wish that somehow we try to capture all these options we have gone through today in that discussion paper? That's one question.
The second one is that I would like to hear what the questions are in your mind you want to see appear in this discussion paper.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'll just take a first kick at that. Actually, the discussion paper is not so much going to have questions around each individual option. It's: "We have options in front of us. Please let us know what you'd like us to do." I mean, we can do anything from all of them to none of them to a range in between and various components of it. So it would be hard to ask people a question specifically about an option as part of a paper, but that's really going to come in part of the presentations and stuff that we will end up receiving.
I was thinking — and once again, I'm open for discussion on this — that the process would look like a quick blurb of what the overall view is on the pine beetle, some more specific information in terms of the problem and then the options as laid out here more as just the titles, as opposed to going into the details.
So we've got constraints to look at. We've got volume, area base to look at. We've got how you harvest the components in terms of how you float fibre. We've got low volume, etc. Those would be options, and then under that would be, "For more information, please refer to the website," which then would have more detailed information, as presented here.
I think if you get anything more than that, it would be too much information, really, to send out as part of an invitation.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Yeah, I wasn't so much thinking of including that, but you mentioned questions. Do you want to somehow in that, then, reflect that these are the various areas that have the potential to increase mid-term timber supply? Do you already kind of want to try to pose, then, the question so that they can start to think: do they want to mitigate? Where would they want to go in terms of mitigating? How deep do they want to go?
J. Rustad (Chair): Yeah. I think that's kind of the question that would come at the end: what would you like to do? However you want to phrase that, in terms of the questions, I think I'd be happy, because it is the question. "If you're looking at dropping 30 percent in a particular area, what's your choice? Would you like to look at some mitigation issues? What types of gains would you be looking at?"
One of the questions, of course, which is hard to quantify, which was expressed, is the area-based component. I'm not sure how you would pose that in terms of a question, around changing that management structure or that tie-in. It's a tough one to ask, I guess. I don't know.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): This is always the question I had, and I think what we tried to put in the letter really quickly when we went to the minister is: how is this all going to work? How do you go to a community, spend two hours and ask incredibly complex questions that I think people who've spent a lifetime in this would struggle with — right? These are huge discussions.
To even start to talk about tenure with…. Some people will be very knowledgeable on tenure, but I mean, if you're going to a community, I think you would have to reasonably expect that there'd be many that wouldn't be specialists in tenure, wouldn't be specialists in all of these areas.
That is the question: how do you go into a community and make this meaningful? I think it will be meaningful to us just in the extent of: we're in the community, we meet people, and we get a certain sense of where the community is. But it would be highly superficial, and I think that that's just a reality that we face.
The terms of reference, to talk about legislative change after this process…. I think we have to be reasonable in our expectations. We're going to go in. This is the first part of a public discussion, and the only reasonable way I see it going forward is that you're going to have a series of steps. It's going to be a much longer process than I think some would like. That's my sense.
The first thing I would ask is: what do you want from people? You're going in there. It's for two hours that we're inviting them to come. What do we want from them that's going to be meaningful, where they're actually going to be in a position to give us something so that we can walk away from that community and say that it's something that we can act on?
E. Foster: Well, I think, Norm, more actually to our conversation just after lunch there, there are some things…. Dave has mentioned, as did Larry, that there are things that can happen in a local area. I think that maybe you frame the question around how we obviously have an issue with the pine beetle and a timber supply issue. "How do you see it unfolding in your area? These are some of the things that you can look at" — just sort of highlight them — "as possible scenarios in your community. Come and tell us what you think."
I think you have to keep it at a fairly casual level. I don't think you need to get into detail — as you said, I mean, a very complex issue. But I think we're just out there to see if there's a flavour….
There may be some people who say: "Look, there are no logs left. What we want from government is to help us move on to the next stage. Help us…." That might be the answer we get from some communities.
They might realize that in the short and even into the mid-term, what they have done in the past is not going to happen. If they have come to that realization already, their request to us might be, "Okay, help us move on. Help us get training in other jobs. Help us with bridging our pensions" — that sort of thing. I don't know, but I think we've got to be prepared to hear that too.
H. Bains: We've got to keep it as simple as we can. But I think we've still got to give them enough information so they will come prepared with whatever knowledge they have, provided that they know what we are asking them in those meetings.
I think we need to give them some indication of what lies ahead because of the pine beetle infestation in their areas and the reduction in AACs. Either you put something in there — you know, what it actually means by the reduction of production — or leave it up to them to think about that, as long as they know that there is that reduction coming. And most of them know that — but, I mean, to what extent? It's something that we need to show to them.
Then give them some of the scenarios, some of the options that we have talked about. You know, there are some areas and some options here that they may want to take a look at and advise us what they think on how to mitigate some of those effects.
I think the letter should be framed in that fashion so that they know what's going on, what will happen in ten or 15 years if we do nothing, and what it is that we expect them to do. Or give them some information to consider some of the mitigation options, whether they want to go there and how far they want to go. That would be the discussion at those meetings. But we need to identify some of those areas in that letter.
B. Stewart: Well, I tend to agree with Harry. I think that it's a consultative process, a listening exercise. We've heard this for the first time, for many of us. I think that making certain the backgrounder is succinct enough, that it suggests some of the options and about where these options might be so that there's enough information, so that they can come in…. But we're mostly listening. If we spent as much time asking them questions, we may as well book a few days in each community. I think that's why it has to become a listening exercise. You have to give them enough information.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I'm trying to get my head around it, so I'm not prescribing anything. I do think that there's an incredible amount of expertise that will be in the communities, and they will have ideas. I think that we're going to get a lot from the communities. I absolutely believe that.
I guess the main thing that we just have to be mindful of is to make sure that when we go to the communities, it feels authentic. I think that maybe that's just a perception thing as much as a reality thing. But I suppose that's where I would see the danger — if there's any perception that we came into a community for two hours and then we're out, if we ever left a sense that it wasn't authentic and that we were impatient or that we had an agenda or any of those things.
I think that would be where it would be most problematic. Other than that, if we learn something, how can you lose? But I guess that's what I think we have to be mindful of: that it be a process that's seen as authentic.
I think there's no way to get around the fact that with the constraints we're given, we've got to move through it quickly. I mean, that's just the reality, and I think that if we're mindful of it, we can pull it off. That would be my main concern as we came in.
B. Routley: Yeah, I guess we've already sent the letter and explained that we wouldn't want to do it in this kind of compressed framework. And I do think that some of these options, really…. I mean, they're on the table, but they wouldn't be my preference.
The issue for me is that there's not going to be enough information on the long-term impacts of mitigation — if you like, the mitigation of the mitigation. Given that it's kind of human nature to look at the short term, people will want to look at.... But are we making matters worse in the long term for communities? That is one of the questions.
I'm not sure, if someone asked me that question "Is this mitigation going to make matters worse for the community down the road?" that we could have a suitable answer for that, unless somebody here has the answer for that — about how you mitigate the mitigation. If you do this, sure, you're going to try and fill in some of the gaps. But it also does lead to….
Some of these mitigations will have more impact on communities than others. For example, I would think the areas that could impact water supply…. That's one of the things that you hear out in the field that is a real hot-button issue. Folks are concerned about their water supply impact as a result of harvesting along riparian areas, particularly if you're next to a creek or a river.
If you're talking about doing that, it could have significant impacts to the community's water supply — you know, turbidity problems. You end up with slope stability issues. There are a whole bunch of…. Like, I could list off a lot of potential outcomes from doing these things.
I mean, after all, we've got to all remember that they were put there in the first place for a reason. These aren't hurdles in the way. These are not obstacles. These are choices that were made by society. That was back in the time that…. I know I've heard the Liberal government talk many times over and over again about the 1990s — not in the kindest of terms.
I would argue that in the kindest of terms, the 1990s are when there was a dramatic sea change in forest policy in British Columbia for the good of the society and community at the time. It was dealing with the war in the woods. It was settling what were really serious conflicts within communities all over British Columbia.
Sure, I had my own perspective. Coming out of the milling and forest industry, I had my own perspective on what others saw as more important issues for them and the community, but those trade-offs were made. Now we're talking about reframing the social contract, if you like.
I'm not sure, given the short time frame that we have, that we're going to wander into communities with a one- or two-pager and really, fully explain what could be major impacts down the road. That may not be communicated well by this committee or other, and I don't feel good about that.
I don't feel good about the notion of wandering in and short-shifting the community with a one-pager and saying: "Everything's rosy. Here's this little graph, and if you choose this, we've got more for you today, but, you know, your future community doesn't look so good." But we're not going to add that, you know? That's troubling to me. I just want to say on the record that I'm really concerned about the longer-term costs of the mitigation plan.
I think the staff were asked specifically to come up with a plan. How do you mitigate this problem? People went, and they were focused just on that, just on how to mitigate. Nobody thought about, well, how do you mitigate the mitigation once you've harvested all the old growth, the riparian zones, killed off the last remaining rare species that were part of one of those zones. We've heard of First Nations impact that we're going to potentially have serious issues with.
Again, I just think that we need to go in with our eyes wide open that these are rather dramatic changes. I'll be very surprised if we don't have some serious blowback from this work.
Although I certainly understand why the problem is here, I just don't know why it wasn't thought about back when we started. When we increased the AAC, certainly we knew over time that it was going to result in this kind of downturn. We could have been planning over the last couple of years, and maybe the mitigation wouldn't be so severe.
In any case, here we are, but I am concerned.
D. Barnett: Yeah, it is a big concern. The communities have been working together since 2006 on the economic and social part of this. Most of the people that paid attention…. The communities are still working together on the issue.
One of the constraints that we have to consider is the fact that this wood is no good. As it stands out there, it's going to fall down, and it's going to become less and less valuable to the industry. So I think when we go out there we have to say: do we want to utilize what we can utilize, or do we just want to leave it there and let nature take its course?
I think that's one of the positives that you can ask the public. Give them a choice. Do you want us to use what we can use and create jobs, or do you want us just to leave it there and let nature take its course? That's something that only they can tell you.
E. Foster: Just one thing, to Bill's comments. I don't disagree with you, Bill, on the scenarios. You and I are on the same page on several of them. But in fact, if we go out there and — to Norm's comments — blow in for two hours and have people think we didn't listen to them, we might as well play golf, because it's a waste of our time and just reinforces the opinion that unfortunately a lot of people have of us.
These are options. We don't have…. We're not coming here to tell you what to do. We're coming here to get your input. These are some options that are laid out that strictly talk to fibre. They don't talk to the social end, and that's what we're asking you about — the social end of the thing.
We've asked staff to come up with numbers to give us some indication of what we can do about timber supply, and then politically we've got to make a decision on our recommendations to government through our consultation with the stakeholders and the communities, where we want to go with that.
I would be extremely surprised if anybody told us to fire up a saw and cut down the old-growth forests. I would be shocked, actually. I wouldn't want to be standing close to them when the bomb hit. In fact, it is an option to secure fibre. That's all we've asked staff to do, and I think, in the short time they've had, they've done an outstanding job of that.
I think the secret to this whole thing is that we don't go out there and leave the impression with anybody that we're coming there to tell them what to do. I think if we can get that message out: we're here to hear what you want to do, what you think about the social end of this thing.... We can overcut for the next ten years, and then you're out of business — simple.
That plays off of just exactly what Bill just said. We cranked up the AAC to utilize as much of that dead pine as we could, because it was either that or burn it. It made sense, but now we can continue to do that and just prolong the agony, or we can make some decisions now and work towards the other side of it.
I think the secret to this is that however we frame it, we're not coming there to tell you to pick one, sort of thing. Just: "What have you got to say? What do you think? What's good for your community?"
H. Bains: I just want to add…. When we are asking these questions, I think we probably want to remind them that there is a social cost of anywhere you go so that they don't come in there with guns blazing, that you never consider social causes, that you're simply throwing these options out there without even considering there's a social cost to it. I think we need to remind them: when you're coming with your suggestions, please consider, you know, what the social cost is.
E. Foster: I would never call them suggestions. I'd call them an option.
H. Bains: Options. But if they come back with some suggestions, the social cost component would need to be considered. You just want to give them that little reminder.
E. Foster: I don't know how you're going to get all of it on one page, but good luck.
J. Rustad (Chair): We'll figure it out. It'll happen in one or two pages.
L. Pedersen: I'm just listening to this, and I'm trying to be a bit creative and thoughtful about what you could put before the communities that…. If you ask the wrong question, you're going to ask that question that takes 16 days to answer and bring analysis and perspective to. I'd just like to maybe make a suggestion of something that I'd be happy to work with the ministry staff to try and get something before you.
You frame it by saying: "Here's the forecast, raw, as we understand it. These are the implications for the future. There have been a few different things looked at that may mitigate this mid-term." The questions to the community are: "What principles should guide decision-making and evaluation of options? What do you, the community, want to have considered?"
That'll bring forward, I think, the kind of community-based interest around risk tolerance, around environment, around social licence. "How should decisions be made and by whom? What do you, the community, feel is fair in terms of having provincial-level decisions taken that would affect your area?"
"What would you like us to know about your area?" I mean, there's that intense, deep, local knowledge of many people that you've said, Donna, are already working together. They'll have a lot to say. "What cautions and advice do you have for this committee in considering whether and how to mitigate mid-term timber supply?" It's kind of a little bit more about values and process than getting caught in the details.
Lastly, "How do you, the community, want to be engaged in your future going forward?" It's kind of more around process. Then all the analysis stuff just is used to bring perspective rather than becoming the focal point of the discussion. It's just a suggestion, but I think it kind of builds on what's….
D. Barnett: Sounds good, Larry. Good idea.
J. Snetsinger: I was very much on the same wavelength as Larry. He probably said it a lot better than I was going to say it.
I was thinking that the objective is that the committee really wants to hear whatever the communities think can help government deal with this significant situation. I would pose three types of questions.
We've got these areas that have been put forward as potential areas that could increase timber supply. How far should government go in considering these — i.e., what are some of the values and principles, as Larry suggested? Are there other areas that government should consider, keeping in mind the social costs? What process would the communities like to see going forward?
I was thinking along the same lines, I think, as Larry was going.
J. Rustad (Chair): Thank you for that, Jim.
Is that enough, then, that people are comfortable?
D. Peterson: John, my observation — and I'm not going to try and recharacterize the kinds of questions — builds on one of the things that Norm said. This suite of questions as much sets the stage for the continuing dialogue as it does for what you will resolve as a committee. That's probably realistic. It's what we've been trying to bend our minds around and I've been trying to bend my mind around. What our continuing role post August 15 will be — that kind of thing.
I think you need to be aware of that as a committee, that that's really…. You know, these questions are more designed around saying, "How do you want to get engaged going forward?" and not so much around: "How do you want us as a committee to make some decisions now?" That's probably relevant, and it's probably more practical and more reasonable. That's what it conveys to me, and that's what it will convey, I think, to the communities.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): The place I'm at is that it's inevitable. I think that to most of us, as we think about it, it is inevitable that this is the beginning of a process, a beginning of discussion, a beginning of looking at options that you try to hone down into something that's going to be workable on the ground.
I agree that the questions that have been put forward sort of imply that this isn't going to wrap up with everything figured out by July or August, but I think that's an inevitable and healthy thing to imply. So that's good.
J. Rustad (Chair): Good. Okay, I think we have some direction.
Susanna, do you want to add to that?
S. Laaksonen-Craig: No. That's good. I will draft something tomorrow and circulate it through you two as quickly as possible.
Then in terms of the backgrounders that we attached to yesterday's e-mail, Kate distributed a whole bunch of these TSA-level documents. They still, if you look through them, have some spots that need a little bit of information filled in, but these are essentially the timber supply area–based backgrounders that we have.
I'm just interested in if this was what the committee members had in mind. This is what we have been able to put together given this time frame. Are there areas that you would want to see filled in?
Other materials — we can put in those one-pagers. There are a couple of others, like biodiversity and so on, that we can add to those that we have already distributed to you. We also have some regional considerations. That type of material we can provide. Do you think that that's a sufficient level of background information? Do you have expectation that there would be other information? I mean, clearly all those reports of the earlier work are now also publicly available, regarding the constraints.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): May I just explain as well, for members' information, that earlier today on the special committees website we did upload the ministry's presentations dating back to May 28. So there are about five presentations that were presented to the committee which are now in the public domain on your website.
In addition, we have a number of documents, background information, on the website. So when the public is notified, either through the ad or the media release, of the work of your committee, they will then be directed to this website where there is now a growing collection of information in the public domain.
We can certainly, as Susanna suggests, upload the other regional backgrounders that were circulated today, and do that going forward. I just wanted you to be aware that that information is up on the website as of a couple of hours ago.
J. Rustad (Chair): Kate, just for our reference and refreshing, can you tell us what that website is?
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): That website is www.leg.bc.ca/timbercommittee — all one word. The Legislative Assembly website.
J. Rustad (Chair): No caps.
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): That's right. The link, then, on that part of the website is just simply called "Presentations." That's a growing collection of information there now.
D. Peterson: Then these backgrounds, like Albert has up on the screen, actually have these kinds of graphs with some numbers in there, which is, I think, one of the reasons why you don't need that in the summary one- or two-pager.
J. Rustad (Chair): Yes.
D. Peterson: That would all be fully available. That certainly talks about some of the realities in front of the communities.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay. I think we're moving with that.
Committee Meeting Schedule
and Community Consultation Process
J. Rustad (Chair): I want to just review the schedule with everybody, because you talked about four hours in the community. I think we'd made the decision to go with the additional Hansard support, which will give us somewhere between five and five and a half hours in each community. So there will be some extra time through that.
The week of June 18 we'll start off at 9:30 a.m. in Smithers, move through, and we'll move to Houston and start a process in Houston at 4 p.m. On Tuesday the 19th, Burns Lake, we would be starting at 8 a.m. In Fraser Lake we would start at 3:30 p.m. On Wednesday, June 20, Fort St. James, we would start at 8 a.m. Vanderhoof would start at 3:30 p.m. on the same day. June 21, Thursday, we'd be in Prince George at 8 a.m. Mackenzie would start at 3:30 p.m.
On the backside, on Friday, June 22, Valemount would start at 8 a.m. McBride would start at 3 p.m. The reason for the shorter times in McBride and Valemount is that there would not be the First Nations component as there would be in some of the other communities, similar to some of the other ones that we'll end up going to.
The second part of the tour. We're looking at July 4 as a field day if we can make the arrangements. That's still in flux, but I would ask members to please lock that day in. That will be up around the Quesnel area. On Thursday, July 5, it would be 100 Mile House starting at 8 a.m. and Williams Lake starting at 4 p.m. Then Friday, July 6, will be Quesnel at 8 a.m.
Then we're working on a concept around what Prince George would be in the afternoon as a second visit. Perhaps instead of an opportunity like we've had in terms of presentations, we might be able to have an opportunity for more of an engagement type of process for those from the region that would like to come in on that day to engage in some sort of discussion.
We'll see how that plays out, but please book that afternoon of availability for Prince George, and we will confirm it as needed later in this month of June.
The next week — Monday, July 9 through to Wednesday, July 11 — would be three days for the consultation for the provincial groups. It may not take all three days. It may take longer than three days. We'll book those three days aside at this stage, and we'll see how that process will go. Then on Thursday, July 12, we'll finish the community consultation component, starting in Merritt at 8:30 a.m. and moving on to Kamloops at 4 p.m.
If we have all of that wrapped up, we would have some potential for some extra time available on the 16th. One thing I want members to think about a little bit, and we should probably think about this on the week of the 18th while we're travelling, is that we may want to add an in-camera day on either July 3 or July 13, if it can fit.
The concept around the in-camera day would be an opportunity to kind of talk a little bit about some of these options and what type of background information or additional components that we may ask the Ministry of Forests to be able to provide us. Some of that might be the mitigation of the mitigation that we had talked about earlier. It may be other types of issues.
I think we need some time to think about this, to hear about this as we go out on the road, and then we'll have an opportunity to sit down and perhaps ask for some more background information so that the ministry has time to prepare it for us before we ultimately get into some deliberations. I'm not sure if it would be the third or the 13th. I'll maybe just ask which day might be favourable.
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): I would suggest the 13th, simply because we will have gone through the presentations. We will have had the provincial bodies coming to us and saying: "Think about this; think about this." I think that that makes more sense after we've gone through everything to know better what we need from staff.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'm thinking in terms of staff and in terms of preparation time. The sooner we can ask them to provide some background information…. It's not saying that it would be the only time, but I'm just thinking we might want to do that.
One of the other things we could do, perhaps on the fourth on our tour day, is maybe get together an hour or an hour and a half early and have a little discussion as part of that. If there is anything burning, we can get the ministry working on it right away. Then perhaps on the 13th we could provide that additional update.
S. Laaksonen-Craig: Earlier is always better. We are, unfortunately or fortunately, also heading to when people start to take their vacations, so we will have more constraints.
D. Peterson: I'm thinking, John, that actually even as early as the 19th and 20th you might start realizing, "Boy, there's an extra piece of information that would be very useful," and I think the sooner that gets relayed in, the better.
J. Rustad (Chair): Yes, I agree.
B. Stewart: Just based on how heavy this schedule is and what we're going to likely hear, I think that probably we should take the opportunity of the third and maybe think about what we actually heard, and maybe if we want to modify anything or give any direction. I think leaving it to the very end means that we're locked in to the very end of it, and we're pushing it out every time we do that. We may end up wanting both days. That's the only thing.
J. Rustad (Chair): Okay. What I'd like to ask members to do, then, is to set aside the third, and let's confirm that the week of the 18th is part of tour. As we're going during that tour, if we feel that more than just a note saying, "Could you think about this," if we want to have that discussion, we'll utilize some of that time, then, on the third. If we feel that we won't need a lot of time, then we can free up that day and maybe move it into a little bit of the morning of the fourth — however that will work.
I agree with Ben. I think the sooner we have a little bit of that…. Then if we need to do some more on the 13th as well, once we hear the provincial nature, we can do that. It's no problem to add that as well. Does that make sense to the members?
I recognize and thank members for their flexibility in this. This is obviously critical in terms of the importance of the work we're doing, but it also takes us away from our ridings and doesn't allow us to do the rest of the work that we're asked to do as MLAs. I appreciate everybody's efforts on that.
H. Bains: I want to say that as I earlier said, I wasn't available on the fourth and the ninth. I'm trying to make arrangements so that I am available on the fourth and the ninth, but the fifth, sixth and 17th I won't be.
J. Rustad (Chair): I appreciate that. Fortunately, we'll have written records of that information, so we'll be able to get that to you. It's just that I don't know how else we can work this in terms of the schedules.
Any other comments about schedules or that component?
B. Stewart: From what you just said, is the third a date that we should just hold?
J. Rustad (Chair): The third is a date that I'd like you to hold. We will be able to confirm, likely by the 20th of June, as to whether or not we need to use half a day on the third or whether we can use an hour on the fourth.
B. Routley: Obviously, at the start of the trip there are going to be people coming from various areas. Do you know if there is a Victoria and a Vancouver liftoff time?
J. Rustad (Chair): Yes, Kate will be working with our LAs to confirm when the flight schedules and times would be. There would be opportunities to participate in those flights and whatever components would be there.
B. Stewart: Is that code, Bill, for a question that if the plane's leaving from the terminal in Vancouver, could it not just leave from Victoria and stop in Vancouver and get the rest of us?
K. Ryan-Lloyd (Clerk of Committees): Planes are typically based in Vancouver, so usually the first pickup is at the Vancouver south terminal. It then flies to Victoria to pick up staff, predominantly the Hansard staff and their many, many pounds of equipment that travel with us. From there, then, we head to the next location. That's the typical route.
Then, accordingly, on the way back we typically drop off passengers in Victoria, and then the last stop at the end of the week would be in Vancouver again.
J. Rustad (Chair): I'd try to figure out how to get a stop in Prince George in there. We'll see.
In any case, okay. Like I say, the details on the tour and stuff will come out from the Clerk's office.
With that, is there any other business or things that we should put on the table or deal with at this point?
N. Macdonald (Deputy Chair): No, it sounds goods. Thanks.
J. Rustad (Chair): I want to thank members for their time today.
I especially want to thank the presenters and all of the Ministry of Forests staff that came in support. With such a wide-ranging and extensive amount of information that we covered today, I know it was a real challenge to make sure that you were prepared for all possible questions that could come up. I really appreciate everybody's time that they made available to be able to be here today.
Also, to Jim on the phone, we missed you down here, but thank you for participating over the phone. We'll have to work with Air Canada to make sure that we have that for the next time.
Also, to Larry, thank you for your work — as well as, of course, to Kate and the Hansard staff.
With that, I guess our next opportunity…. We'll see a mailout, hopefully on Friday morning sometime, around the schedule, if we can get it set up. If we can get it signed off by Friday afternoon, Kate would have an opportunity to be able to send out invitations on Friday.
If need be, if there are any issues that rise up, then we may have to do a conference call. If members don't mind, that'll be at the call of the Chair around that. Otherwise, our next meeting will be on the 18th in Smithers, and we'll start the public consultation process.
I thank members very much. I look for a motion to adjourn.
The committee adjourned at 4:03 p.m.
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