Harvest Levels

Determining Harvest Levels

By law, decisions on the volume of wood that can be logged Ė called the allowable annual cut (AAC) Ė must be set for major management areas of public forest. That involves 37 timber supply areas and 34 tree farm licences as well as smaller woodlot areas that include public land, and community forest agreements. B.C. law requires that AACs be determined every five years, unless information indicates that no changes to harvest levels would be needed.

B.C. law requires that annual harvest levels be set for public forests

AAC decisions are made by B.C.ís Chief Forester, who uses his independent professional judgement based on the best available information. This information is collected and prepared through the timber supply review process. Computer analysis is used to examine how the timber supply may be affected by recent land use decisions, current forest practices requirements, objectives for non-timber values and other factors. The process is open and transparent, and includes public review and input, as well as consultation with First Nations. The purpose is to ensure that the short-term AAC is consistent with long-term sustainability of the timber supply, the interests of First Nations and the public, and policies and practices that may affect the timber supply.

Together with other initiatives and policies, this process provides assurances that large amounts of forest will be conserved for generations to come, and that timber will be available to support future opportunities for the forest products industry.

Photo: Candace Kenyon

Annual Harvest Levels

Each year, an average of about 193,000 hectares (477,000 acres) of B.C. forest is logged, amounting to roughly 75 million cubic metres of timber. About 70% of the harvest comes from B.C.ís interior, and the remainder from coastal areas.

About 90% of logging takes place in public forests, where annual harvest rates average 184,000 hectares (455,000 acres), or roughly 65 million cubic metres of timber. That area amounts to one-third of one per cent of total public forest, or 0.8% of the forest area considered available for harvest.

Each year, less than one-third of one per cent of public forests are logged.

Harvesting on B.C.ís one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of privately managed forest land averages about 9,000 hectares (22,000 acres) a year, or 8 million cubic metres. This harvest rate represents about 0.9% of B.C.ís privately managed forest.

Due to B.C.ís relatively short history of logging, most logging still takes place in forests that have never been harvested, including older forests. This will change over time as more second growth (or previously harvested) trees reach an appropriate size for harvesting.

Long-Term Harvest Levels

The total area harvested on public lands is expected to remain relatively constant at the current level over the long term. However the volume of timber harvested is expected to change.

In the mid-term, the volume of timber logged is expected to decline somewhat as logging shifts from primary reliance on old forests to second growth (or previously harvested) forests, a transition that will take many decades. This decline is largely due to the fact that large amounts of second growth forest will not be mature enough to harvest in the mid-term.

In the long term, B.C.ís timber harvest landbase is expected to support an overall harvest volume equivalent to or possibly higher than current levels. These projections are supported by recent research on growth rates, which suggests regenerated forests often show much higher productivity than the older forests now being harvested.

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