Program ensuring industry uses more of the tree, burns less

Boost for forest industry

A new project funded by the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. and federal and provincial governments is saving wood fibre from the burn pile by processing it into useful material. 

The $1.4 million project being managed by Westwood Fibre Resources Ltd. sees the company work with Weyerhaeuser to secure about 325,000 cubic metres of normally unmerchantable wood fibre over the next four years, trucking it to BC EcoChips Ltd. facilities in Princeton and Okanagan Falls, B.C.

“This project is allowing the delivery and utilization of material that would otherwise be burned," said Westwood Fibre president Jim Thrower. 

Most of the fibre includes the tops generated by Weyerhaeuser’s primary harvesting in the Merritt and Okanagan timber supply areas.

Thrower said there is a direct connection to job creation.

“Every truckload is delivered by a truck and a driver, so this project means new work for log haulers and work for chippers, chip trucks, and chip truck drivers,” he said. “Every step in the supply chain is enhanced and results in new work.”

The additional fibre also supports jobs in pulp mills and bioenergy plants.

Tops are about 10 percent of the total primary harvest per year, meaning 1,000,000 cubic metres of primary harvest yields about 100,000 cubic metres of tops. When a tree is cut up into logs, the treetop is typically discarded as waste and then burned to comply with legal requirements. Through this project, the tops are recovered and converted into pulping chips and marketed in the southern interior and coast of B.C.

Hauling costs are typically the largest barrier to removing the tops from the bush, with FESBC funding going to cover extra hauling costs over and above the break-even points to facilitate the utilization of fibre that would otherwise be burned.

“FESBC is funding this proposal as it meets several of our purposes and illustrates how businesses can collaborate to reduce emissions that result from uneconomical fibre being piled and burned,” said Dave Conly, FESBC operations manager. 

“Westwood Fibre Resources Ltd., BC EcoChips Ltd., and Weyerhaeuser are working with many smaller wood fibre consumers to provide opportunities to increase the utilization of residual fibre that would otherwise be burned, generating economic benefits to the local forestry communities as well as reducing the impacts of emissions across the region.”

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