6. Forestry in British Columbia


Forests are a vital part of the province’s history and sustainable forestry management is a essential part of a its future. The forest industry relies primarily on coniferous trees to for domestic and export markets. Harvest occurs both in natural stands and industrially planted stands. Within the province, reforestation is strictly regulated so that new forests mirror the diversity of natural forests and support the sustainable harvest of commercially valuable timber. The goal of these regulations is to ensure that BC forests contain genetic diversity, an important element in maintaining ecosystem resilience. British Columbia uses a mix of over 20 different native tree species in its reforestation programs.

The current annual allowable cut (AAC) is 75 million cubic metres. Both timber and non-timber values are considered in calculating AACs. For example, the following factors are considered:

  •   No-cut buffer zones
  •   Insect/fire/disease losses
  •   Logging losses
  •   Operational constraints
  •   Environmental and wildlife considerations

Technological advances in the logging industry have greatly affected the lumber production. Technology allowed mills to switch from labour-intensive to capital-intensive entities, and all aspects of milling are now automated for debarking logs, saw milling, grading, and green chain (an assembly line of fresh cut timber). Technological advances include:

  • Transportation (railways, rafts, trucks, bulldozers)
  • The donkey engine
  • The mechanical spar pole
  • The feller buncher
  • Hydraulic barkers and new band saws

Global demand in the 20th century introduced a greater need for pulp and paper mills. Mills rose throughout the region of BC in places such as Prince Rupert, Duncan Bay, Port Alberni, Marmac and Victoria.

BC owns approximately over 90% of the forested land, which means that determining tenures and tax rates is important. Tenure is the way in which rights are held; tenure is not a right itself. Tenures in the region include:

  • Tree farm licenses
  • Public sustained yield units
  • Forest licenses


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British Columbia in a Global Context Copyright © 2014 by Geography Open Textbook Collective is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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