Two B.C. forest products companies have closed sawmills and swapped timber rights to address the effects of the mountain pine beetle infestation in the interior of B.C. West Fraser recently announced a comprehensive Mountain Pine Beetle Plan that consists of the exchange of certain timber rights with Canfor Corp., the closure of West Fraser's Houston, B.C. mill, and the announcement of significant investments in two major mill upgrades in Smithers and 100 Mile House, B.C.
Under an agreement with Canfor Corp., West Fraser has exchanged a portion of its existing timber harvesting tenure in the Morice Timber Supply Area for Canfor's tenures located in the Quesnel and Lakes TSAs. The Quesnel tenure will provide additional timber security to West Fraser's largest and recently-rebuilt sawmill located in Quesnel, B.C. The Lakes tenure combined with the remaining Morice tenure will provide additional timber security for the company's sawmills located in Smithers and Fraser Lake, B.C.
Canfor, in turn, will permanently close its sawmill located in Quesnel. In the timber rights exchange, Canfor will receive 324,500 m3 of replaceable forest licence allowable annual cut in the Morice Timber Supply Area.
“The timber availability in the Quesnel region following the mountain pine beetle infestation unfortunately leaves us unable to continue operation of our Quesnel sawmill," said Don Kayne, president and CEO of Canfor Corp. “The additional fibre we have been able to secure in the exchange agreement with West Fraser enhances the fibre requirements for our Houston facility. "
Ted Seraphim, West Fraser's president and CEO, said: “The mountain pine beetle devastation has and will continue to undermine the availability of merchantable timber in the interior of B.C.”
For more than a decade, West Fraser and other B.C. companies have been aggressively salvaging beetle-killed pine and continue to do so. The MPB epidemic has killed a significant proportion of the available pine forest in the interior region of B.C. and is causing constrained supplies of merchantable timber in affected areas. According to West Fraser, recent forecasts have predicted that the allowable harvest in the interior of B.C. could be reduced by more than 30% from current levels.