New partnership will help MPB devastated forests

Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced on Friday the BC Forest Carbon Partnership Program

Central Interior Logging Association

Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced on Friday the BC Forest Carbon Partnership Program, an innovative program that will use private sector investment funding to reforest Crown land impacted by mountain pine beetle, wildfire and other natural disturbances.

Through the program, private investors will pay to plant trees, and will receive carbon offset credits in exchange. Planted stands will be managed over their growth cycle, and receive incremental silviculture treatments, such as fertilization, spacing, and thinning, to increase growth and yield.

The investments, carbon credits and incremental silviculture activities will be managed by our own Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative (COAC), started by the CILA in 2011 to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diesel consumption by heavy trucks and equipment.

COAC was the successful proponent in a competitive bid process posted in October of 2012. The forestry carbon program adds a new dimension to COAC’s services, and provides a new opportunity for the diesel reduction program as well. Some of the sites to be planted will need to be logged, or have other site preparations prior to planting, and COAC will require companies doing that work to join the fuel reduction program as well, further reducing the emissions typical to a forest harvesting operation. There will be bio-mass opportunities as well, through the spacing and thinning activities over time.

Minister Thomson marked the announcement on Friday by helping plant 1,000 Douglas fir seedlings on a Crown woodlot in Kelowna that was damaged by mountain pine beetle and then devastated by a severe windstorm in 2008, which blew most of the trees over. Thomson said, “The Forest Carbon Partnership Program enables increased reforestation of damaged lands. In the long term, the program will enhance the province’s ability to store carbon and address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions.”

COAC CEO and CILA executive director MaryAnne Arcand believes this program will have a lasting impact on the province, the economy and the environment.

“Accelerating and enhancing the reforestation and rehabilitation of areas that would likely otherwise not get planted or managed will help ensure a timber supply in the future. This is not afforestation, where we simply don’t log the trees; this is a real move towards creating a renewable, sustainable, working commercial forest,” she said.

The benefits of the program go beyond demonstrating climate action and replenishing the forests: there is no taxpayer burden for reforestation via private sector involvement; the trees planted and land used for forest carbon projects remain public assets; the projects will create near term direct forestry jobs, and support the working forest by providing medium to longer term jobs for the management and manufacture of climate friendly forest products; and, the projects will help return more timber volume to the fibre supply sooner.

A total of 20,000 seedlings have already been planted under the program, 1,000 in Kelowna on Friday, and 19,000 west of Quesnel earlier in June, funded by private funders. On Thursday, COAC reached an agreement with Tree Canada to plant 44 hectares in the Vanderhoof District beginning next year. (www.treecanada.ca)

 

For more information on how the program will work, please contact MaryAnne Arcand, (250)563-1144, go to www.carbonoffsetcooperative.org or visit the Ministry’s website, www.gov.bc.ca/for/.