Tag Archives: Logging/Forests

MLAs aren’t facing the truth: B.C. forests are tapped out


Read this op-ed by Anthony Britneff and Ben Parfitt in The Province.
Excerpt: “To entice the owner of the destroyed Burns Lake mill to rebuild, the commit-tee chose to go down the same tired road that gave rise to the timber supply crisis: push the boundaries of what can be harvested to the extreme. This was essentially the approach applied in the East Coast cod fishery, and we all know how that worked out.” (August 20, 2012)

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/MLAs+aren+facing+truth+forests+tapped/7115424/story.html


Poachers Steal 800 Year-Old Red Cedar from Carmanah Valley


Read this story from the Victoria Times-Colonist on the brazen theft of a massive 800 year-old Western Red Cedar from the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. (May 17, 2012)

Tree poachers have stolen one of the largest red cedars in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park in what is believed to have been a two-part operation over the past year.

“If poachers can run around roughshod in the parks, it’s a terrible thing for B.C.,” said Torrance Coste, a Vancouver Island campaigner with the environmental group Wilderness Committee. He reported the theft to B.C. Parks and RCMP, but was told there was little chance of finding the thieves.

Coste, who measured rings on the stump, said the cedar, which is valuable for roof shakes, was probably about 800 years old and measured 2.75 metres across.

“I believe the poachers have access to heavy-duty equipment. Firewood salvagers in pickup trucks can’t handle trees this size,” he said.

The demise of the tree started one year ago when parks staff found it had been 80 per cent cut through with a chainsaw.

“It’s hard to say why it was cut like that and just left. It created a hazard to public safety and park safety,” said Andy Macdonald, B.C. Parks west coast regional section head.

“There was no other option than to hire a professional faller to complete the job,” he said.

The tree was left on the ground to decompose and provide habitat for insects and wildlife, Macdonald said.

But someone had other ideas.

“The trunk has been hauled out, cut up and taken away, presumably to be further processed and sold,” Coste said. He assumes it was the same person who initially cut the tree.

Macdonald said the parks department discovered the tree had been dragged out about a week ago. There was little evidence to investigate as even tire tracks had been obscured.

“It’s one of the more remote parks on Vancouver Island that doesn’t see a lot of visitation, so I would guess the illegal activity occurred when no one else was present,” he said.

Coste said tree poaching is an example of what can happen when there is no staff to monitor what is going on. “We have been concerned about the cutting of park budgets for a number of years. Until about 18 months ago, people would have been watching,” he said.


BC Sustainable Forestry Icon Merv Wilkinson Passes Away at 97


Read this article from the Nanaimo Daily News on the passing of legendary BC forester Merv Wilkinson, whose Wildwood Forest Operation earned him global acclaim for leading-edge sustainable forestry and an Order of Canada.

“Wilkinson, in a conversation with the Daily News in 2010, said
old-time forestry workers knew how to manage a forest. He recalled a
former employer telling him, ‘Merv don’t you take out any trees that are
less than 16 inches at the stump…The old-fashioned logging was
way ahead of what we have now. It wasn’t self-destructive. It was
sustainable and more people were employed in the industry back then,’
Wilkinson said.” (Sept 1, 2011)



B.C. log exports soar on new Chinese demand


From the Vancouver Sun – May 17, 2011

by Gordon Hamilton

METRO VANCOUVER – When Port Alberni Mayor Ken McRae sees a freighter leaving his coastal sawmilling town loaded with wood, the pride he once felt has turned to a deep concern for the future of the British Columbia coastal forest industry.

Once those ships were loaded with lumber. Now, half the cargo is logs.

Log exports have exploded in B.C. in the last few months, largely to feed China’s voracious appetite for fibre. McRae is not opposed to exports; they have a place in a healthy industry, he said. But he fears China’s appetite for B.C. logs is going to cut into manufacturing here.

“China, Korea and Japan are paying more for logs than most of our sawmillers can afford. It’s a huge issue that’s going to come back to bite us,” he said in an interview.

Continue reading B.C. log exports soar on new Chinese demand


Briony Penn: Wham BAM, thank you TAM – Who Really Owns BC?


From Focus Online – Feb, 2011

by Briony Penn

Wham BAM, thank you TAM

Corporate mergers raise questions about who really owns BC

I used to report on the colourful species that inhabit this part
of the world, but those articles are diminishing with their populations.
Now I’m as likely to report on the colourful CEOs of companies who are
doing their best to liquidate these last “distressed assets.” It’s quite
a challenge, as one has to be able to follow the ever-changing mergers,
selloffs and vertical integrations that the big players concoct through
Byzantine-like structures and deals. 

One also has to be able to remember three-word acronyms which often
change. To follow the money in this region right now, the most important
ones to be aware of are BAM and TAM. Look out your window anywhere from
Crofton to Sooke and you’ll be gazing at a piece of real estate owned
in some fashion by BAM or TAM.

Mr Martin J. Whitman, the founder of Third Avenue Management (TAM),
runs his empire out of New York; a few of its minor assets have included
Western Forest Products, Timberwest, and Island Timberlands through
 associations with another roving predator of distressed companies,
Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) under CEO Bruce Flatt. 

TAM and BAM form a many-headed hydra that has been devouring most of
the private forestlands on southeast Vancouver Island. These distressed
asset managers live in the skyscrapers of New York and Toronto from
which they “manage” thousands of hectares of forest in the Capital
Region. We rely on these forests for water and are now having to buy
them back from BAM/TAM at great expense.

If you travel around British Columbia, you’ll gaze upon many other
TAM assets. In fact, fully one quarter of BC’s public harvesting
rights—over 10 million cubic metres of Crown forest—are now under TAM’s
controlling interest through their acquisition of huge chunks of BC’s
biggest forest and pulp companies, including Canfor and Catalyst. As
pressures to privatize crown assets continue, the companies with
existing leases to resources will be best poised to secure title to the
land underlying those resources.

TAM, working alongside Jimmy Pattison (who is also a board member of
BAM), has majority share ownership in Canfor. Pattison and Whitman
joined together in 2007 to vote in their own slate of directors,
including TAM men like Amit Wadhwaney, an ex-Domtar forest products
analyst who heads up the TAM International Value Fund, and Ian Lapey,
Whitman’s future successor (they are not on the board now, though
Pattison is). The same sort of thing went on with Catalyst. The typical
pattern is: close down facilities, consolidate, liquidate assets, avoid
taxes (as happened in Crofton), try and exert influence on the political
system, wait out the process of privatization and then sell.

Whitman’s investment mantra is “Safe and Cheap.” He coined it after
the war when he discovered there was a lot of money to be made buying
distressed companies in sectors hit by recession; liquidating and
consolidating; then waiting it out for the rising market. The philosophy
is stated this way on TAM’s website: “We believe the cheaper you buy,
the greater the potential investment reward and the cheaper you buy, the
less the inherent risk.” 

What was Whitman’s inspiration? His biography states: “When he
encountered a timber company rich with assets [aka forests] but no
visible earnings power he realized there was a better way.” One assumes
the “better way” is to liquidate the forests prior to selling the land
when real estate prices are rising. In southeast Vancouver Island, there
has never been so much timber removed from these forests so quickly. 

We shouldn’t be surprised that our province attracts such companies.
Who could resist British Columbia, a great little banana republic on the
doorstep of America that meets all those great investment criteria?
Safe? For sure, there are no Zapatistas here. And cheap? Once you’ve
creamed the forest off the top, you have free real estate that can be
sold. Moreover, we have a provincial government that seems easily swayed
by corporate investors.

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