Is selective felling possible in BC's coastal forests?

theo hopkins thopkins at
Mon Feb 2 12:22:31 EST 1998

In article <886300158.261881858 at>, sitka at writes
>Some interesting questions Theo.  Unfortunately there is no simple answer.

Much very useful background stuff 'snipped' to save cyber-space. Thank
you for this. Theo H.
>Enough background BS for you .  In answer to your specific questions:
>> Greenpeace in Canada and other environmntal groups are calling for a
>> policy of selective logging only (no clearcuts) in the temperate
>> conniferous rainforests on the BC coast. Envirometal groups in Europe
>> that are working in support of Canadian forest protection are taking a
>> lead from Greenpeace and thus proposing selective felling. The European
>> environmental NGO and consumer concern for Canadian foretry is valid, as
>> Europe is a major importer of BC paper and pulp and a minor importer,
>> but of the highest grades only, of sawn timber from BC.
>Greenpeace is well aware that BCs use of clearfell sivicultural systems
>is both ecologically appropriate and an economic necessity.  The real
>issue here Theo is not whether clearcutting is good or bad (its good by
>the way) its are we harvesting BCs forests in a sustainable fashion
>(we're not).

1. I am not in a position to argue for Greenpeace, but my personal veiw
is that while Greenpeace may, in private, say that clearcutting is an
ecconomic necessity, (I don't like their alternative, publicly stated
economic arguements), I am surprised that you say that they accept
clearcutting as 'ecologically appropriate'. Other environmental NGO's,
such as WWF will, as far as I know, also say that clearcutting is
ecologically unsound. And WWF are a fairly 'conservative' NGO, seeing
that their international president is none other than our Prince Philip,
Duke of Edinburgh, :-) and they are mostly financed by industries.

I would like to ask you why you consider that 'clearcutting is
ecologically appropriate', but it might take a lot of your time, and my
original question was specifically on the technical problems of
clearcutting as I wanted to steer clear of the rights and wrongs of
....However, if you *do* have the time, then I would like to hear what
you say on this.

2. Can you expand a bit on why you say present logging is not
sustainable, as I think that is something Greenpeace and you would agree

>> I would like folks opinions on the practical technical possibility of
>> this type of felling, given:
>> 1. the size of the trees, typically 2 foot/60cm to 5 foot/150 cm dbh.

Yes, of course size is only one factor. When I mentioned size, what I
really meant was the problem of very tall trees being felled into a
dense stand. 

Are there crew safety problems with selective felling tall trees?
>Piece size is not the only factor which must be considered here. 
>Selective harvesting can only be accomplished in these parts on stands
>which are of the highest value and where it is ecologically appropriate
>(ie. the species you are harvesting is shade tolerant and regenerates
>under the remaining overstory canopy). Given our steep terrain and
>sensitive soils ground based systems such as skidders or
>feller-forwarders are not viable no safe.  Overhead cable systems such as
>grapple or highlead has not worked well on a large scale due to high
>costs and residual damage to remaining stems.  This leaves helicopter
>logging which in a selective system can easily exceed $100/m3.
>>  2. Slopes wich are commonly up to 30 degrres (or sometimes more).
>See above comments.  The vast majority of my operable ground is in 40-70%
>side slopes.  Forget the fluff you heard about horse-logging - I can
>barely walk up and down it some days let along a horse.

There must have been horse-logging in the past, but I assume that was on
flatter land. Yes, there is real danger on steep land of a log either
going too fast or rolling onto the horse or driver. There is lots of
horse logging still in Sweden, but their forest land is nearly all flat.
>If people think it is not technically possible, then:
>> 3. What is the smallest clearcut that can be worked?
>The Forest Practice Code (implemented in June 1995) does not permit
>harvest units to exceed 40ha in size except under very unique
>circumstances. Of the 100+ or so timber sales that my program has
>planned over the next 7 years (we do long-term development planning) the
>vast majority are less than 30ha in size.  Given that economics is
>everything there is no pat rule of thumb to your answer.  I recall
>developing and selling a clearfell sale in mid coast several years back
>that was 2ha.  However, it was easily accessible by road and had a
>relatively high stand value.  On the outer coast the cost of barging,
>transport and logging costs (approx. $55/m3 for cable & $85/m3 for heli)
>bumps the average break-even stand size up to around 20-25ha.
>4. And what are the financial implications of selection and/or smallest
>> clearcut possible?
>See above.
>> Personally, I would like to see selective felling in these forests, but
>> having seen these forests (fantastic!), my own semi-layman's oppinion is
>> that it would be very difficult.
>> Theo Hopkins
>> Lower Champles Wood
>> Devon
>> England.
>Hope this helps Theo.  Give me a holler if you'd like some more detailed
>info. Its pretty tough to distill a complex answer to the level that
>Greenpeace operates at.

I have campaigned for forests in the past, but I am not doing this in
terms of active campaigning these days. One of the reasons I find
campaigning diffficult, is that to get ones point accross to the public,
issues have to be condensed into 10 second sound bites, _especially_ in
North America due to the nature and stucture of your media (TV, press,
etc.). Greenpeace have this problem. This is a problem in Europe too,
but not so bad. As I tend to see both side of an arguement, I will never
make a good campaigner.

Having to keep a message simple means that it is often inaccurate. If
you make it longer and more accurate, it usually won't get printed.
>Shawn Hedges, RPF
>Prince Rupert, BC

Thanks, Theo H.

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