British Columbia: How industry’s extreme wood waste policies makes for a 5% increase in emissions

Shortchanged: Tallying the Legacy of Waste in BC’s Logging Industry, released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA),  looks at usable wood and logs abandoned in each of BC’s 29 forest  districts over the five years ending in 2008. “If you look at all the  carbon stored in those abandoned trees and convert it to CO2, it translates to a 5% increase in BC’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s got significant implications for our climate policy,” says Parfitt. “There is a myth that BC has cleaned up its act, environmentally speaking, from the bad old days of the 80s and 90s, but this research suggests otherwise.”

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The study finds that in the past five years alone, 17.5 million cubic
metres of usable wood has been left behind at logging operations in
BC, an amount that would fill a line of logging trucks lined bumper to
bumper on the Trans Canada Highway from Vancouver to Halifax and
almost all the way back again.

The policy brief stresses that the estimates are conservative, based on company reports to the provincial government. If the government conducted more rigorous audits, the amount would likely be much higher. “By squandering this resource, we’re seriously shortchanging ourselves,” says resource policy analyst and report author Ben Parfitt.

“If all that so-called ‘waste wood’ had been brought into mill towns and processed, I calculate that we could have generated another 2,400 jobs each year in this province’s forest industry.”

Another concern is the greenhouse gas implications of leaving massive amounts of wood behind. “A lot of that wood is later pushed into piles and burned and an enormous amount of CO2 is released into the atmosphere as a result,” says Parfitt.

Comments (1)

Report's Key Findings (Thanks Dave Shipway)March 28th, 2009 at 11:08 am

This analysis finds that:

• In just one year on North Vancouver Island and the Central Coast, more than
1 million cubic metres of usable wood was abandoned, a fifth of everything
logged, or 38,850 highway logging trucks worth of wood.

• Last year on the remote North Coast just under half of all usable logs were left
behind at logging operations.

• In district after district, logging and wood waste levels frequently diverged. For
example, in Quesnel logging rates fell 6 per cent in 2005 and 7 per cent in 2006
while wood waste levels increased respectively 937 per cent and 585 per cent.

• In some forest districts, logging companies reported zero or virtually no wood
waste, while in immediately adjacent districts high waste levels were reported,
suggesting lapses in reporting and enforcement.

• On BC’s coast, where numerous sawmills have closed because the provincial
government no longer requires companies that log public forests to operate
mills, an average of 2.36 million cubic metres of usable wood was reported
wasted each year, or 11 per cent of everything logged.

• Abandoned, usable logs store tremendous amounts of carbon that, if fully
released to the atmosphere as heat-trapping CO2, would increase BC’s average
annual greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent or 3.23 million tonnes.

• More than 2,400 forest manufacturing jobs are estimated on average to have
been foregone annually based on usable wood waste volumes.

To which I will add: much of the right-of-way logging for new transmission lines, such as Plutonic’s “Green Power Corridor” up to Toba Inlet, has also been just left on the ground to rot.


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