B.C. forest industry faces big setbacks after summer of wildfires

B.C. forest industry faces big setbacks after summer of wildfires

  • September 9, 2017
  •   33

53 million cubic metres of timber has burned so far this year

Recovering from a historic wildfire season is expected to take British Columbia's forest industry at least five years, the province's Forest Ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry said in a statement that although wildfires will likely remain active into the fall, plans to help the industry rebound are already underway.

"To better support this process in the light of this year's unprecedented fire season, a new recovery unit has been established to oversee and co-ordinate government's cross-ministry response," said the statement sent to The Canadian Press.

'High need for reforestation'

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said at a news conference Tuesday that the logging industry alone will experience lingering implications from the fires.

Donaldson said an estimated 53 million cubic metres of timber has burned, which calls for support of harvesters already licensed to collect trees within the fire zone. New licences will also need to be issued to salvage usable wood in burned areas that weren't previously due to be harvested, the minister said.

Those efforts are well underway, along with long-term plans focused on the sustainability of the industry, Donaldson said.

"We know there is going to be an extremely high need for reforestation and that's been planned right now through my ministry in order to ensure that we do have the timber supply in the future," he said. "But there is no question that there's going to be an impact from that much timber being burned in the province."

The B.C. Wildfire Service said on Wednesday that the fires have charred more than 11,500 square kilometres of land this season.

The ministry said the full extent of the damage won't be known until the season is over.

But once those areas are thoroughly surveyed, the ministry said it may adjust the annual allowable cuts and determine how much of the scorched timber should be salvaged or left for wildlife habitat.

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