Log exports/sustainability

Larry Stamm larryst at vis.bc.ca
Thu Dec 18 10:58:28 EST 1997

On Tue, 16 Dec 1997 10:47:25 -0800, Michael Hagen <mhagen at mail.olympus.net>

>I've heard about a 'movement' in BC which is trying to get some control
>over cutting rates with the goal of increasing employment. The
>Ecoforesty folk are in on it. It seems to involve pooling logs at a
>central sorting point and then playing the market but what I heard was
>not clear. Do you have any knowledge about this? 

I think you are referring to the log sort and auction yard in Lumby in
southeast of BC.  This program was started in 1993 by Jim Smith of the Vernon
Forest Service office under the Small Business program of the BC Forest Service
and is officially known as the Vernon Log Sale Project.

About 50,000 cubic metres of coniferous timber are harvested and sold annually
by the Ministry of Forests in this project.  Logging is done under contract,
and most of the cutblocks are harvested by various selection and shelterwood
methods, as opposed to clearcuts.  All wood is trucked to the sort yard in Lumby
where it is hand scaled and sorted according to species and grade.  Usually
there are about 5 or 6 species and 30 different sorts.  Special sorts are done
upon request, in lots as little as a single log for high value grades.  The logs
are sold at a weekly auction sale open to anybody.  Average price per metre has
been around $100, with sales up to the $500 range.

In 1995 the environmental organization Greenpeace hired Herb Hammond of Silva
Forest Foundation to find and certify a parcel of forest land that might be
certifiable as being logged according to Greenpeace's standards for ecologically
sustainable forestry.   The result was that 3 areas scheduled for logging to
supply the Lumby sort yard were selected and certified.  These stands are young
(under 100 years) and are being managed to eventually produce a late
successional stage stand.  The current entry cut is a light thinning, removing
only 30% or so of the stems.  So we have the remarkable situation that
Greenpeace has actually put its stamp of approval on some logging being done by
the BC Forest Service.

This project has been a resounding success from everyone's point of view.  The
Ministry of Forests is recieving about 4 times more net revenue than if it had
sold the timber on the stump, there are over 3 times the normal jobs being
generated in the layout, logging, and sorting process, and small secondary
manufacturers finally have a ready source of the grade of raw materials they
need for their operations.  And Greenpeace is happy!

I think much of the success lies in the personnel involved in the project,
starting with Jim Smith in the Forest Service.  The scaling crew is first rate
(and mostly women).  The forest type locally there yields a variety of softwood
species in many grades.  And there was already a number of small value added
wood processors established locally to provide a ready competitive market for
the logs.  A similar project has been tried with little success in Prince George
because all these factors were lacking there.

I think there is a web site that lists details of the sorts on upcoming sales
and winning bid prices on the previous sales.  If anybody is interested, e mail
me privately and I will try and dig up the URL's and other addresses.
Larry Stamm
PO Box 561
McBride, BC V0J 2E0

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