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David Broadland

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Focus Magazine Nov/Dec 2016

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Navigating through pandemonium

Informed Comment








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Story Comments posted by David Broadland

  1. 5 hours ago, Guest Kevin Hardy said:

    Probably not the best use of people's time in the comments section as we don't want to turn people off with technical details ( can do this offline)


    Thanks for the details, Kevin. Unless those of us who are critical of the ministries practices are willing to understand the complexities of forest management, we aren't likely to be useful critics. So I appreciate your willingness to provide some of those details. Yes, let's talk more offline.

  2. 2 hours ago, Guest Kevin Hardy said:

    I spent my ENTIRE career working in the growth and yield business starting off measuring many hundreds of plots as a contractor and then managing and protecting the set of approximately 5000 permanent sample plots covering the entire province, oft valued at approx $85 million. During my tenure as the Provincial Growth and Yield Forester, I was lucky enough to have visited a few thousand of these personally and saw the devastation that climate change was having on the trees within these long term research plots.

    I steadfastly upheld the public interest over the demands of employment as expected in the Code of Ethics http://www.abcfp.ca/web/ABCFP/ABCFP/Governance/OnlineBylaws/Bylaw-11.aspx and Foresters Act https://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/03019_01. As one of the last remaining operational employees left in the Inventory Branch with a career's worth of dedicated Growth and Yield experience, it was unfortunately an uphill and very stressful battle to protect the PSP network against industrial and governmental pressure to harvest these valuable long term plots.

    Literally one of the very last things I did before I retired in protest was to alert the Chief Forester to the value of these PSPs in the quest to forecast mid-term timber supply vis-a-vis the impacts of the various bark beetles, root rots and defoliator/disease/drought complex.

    I was also able to hang on long enough for the Association of BC Forest Forest Professionals to take on a 3 year investigation into the Growth and Yield program.

    So to hear that there is no will to do any sensitivity analyses (or "what-if") for climate change losses, that I warned about and documented, is extremely disappointing and hope that a change in government and Forest Minister will bring some renewed professionalism, honour, transparency and science based forest management back to BC.

    Oh, a simple fix would be to add back those deleted Inventory and reforestation items to the Forest Act!


    Wow. There's so much here, Kevin. Thank you for your years of public service and for coming forward with your concerns. I will contact you off line, but I wonder if you could tell us a little more about the 5000 permanent sample plots.

    Are they all plantations, or do they include primary forest?

    You say that there was pressure to log the PSPs. Was that because there was a shortage of trees to cut? Or was the intention to get rid of the sample plots so they couldn't be used to check the growth and yield modelling? Or?

    Thanks again for giving us the benefit of your years of service and expertise. Much appreciated.

  3. 6 hours ago, Guest TalkingTrees said:

    What if instead of asking, as max sustained yield does, "how can we get the most volume over many rotations" we instead asked, "how can we maintain the harvest levels of today in perpetuity". If we could make that the philosophical underpinning of forest management it would increase carbon sequestration, provide ample room for biodiversity, etc. In short: we need to extend rotation, slow down and harvest less.

    Thanks for your comments, TalkingTrees.

    I think many people agree with you on this. I do. But the devil would be in the details. How much less of a cut? I understand that the growth and yield models may be overestimating what can be cut by 20 percent. If that's the case, addressing that inaccuracy would require lowering the cut by 20 percent or more. The current (2018) carbon sequestration capacity of BC forests is 7.0 megatonnes per year, whereas it was 87 megatonnes back in 2000. But isn't the current 7.0 megatonnes also overestimated if growth and yield modelling is off? In any case, what additional reduction in cut is necessary to rebuild that capacity?

    Just for the sake of discussion, let's imagine that, to get the cut in synch with actual growth and yield and to rebuild sequestration capacity, the cut needs to be reduced by 30 to 40 percent. The questions that arise for me are these: 1) Is that level of reduction going to fully address the biodiversity crisis, too? 2) Will that reduction address the growing problem of forest-clearcut fires? 3) Will that reduction address the apparent loss of hydrologic function that is being experienced in places like Boundary TSA? 4) How can the ministry leadership be moved to accept the problems its current management practices, along with the forest industry, has created and move to answering some of these questions and addressing the ecological catastrophe that's well underway place?

  4. 57 minutes ago, Guest TalkingTrees said:

    Personally, I would define sustainable as being able to continue doing what you are currently doing far into the future.

    Your words "doing what you are currently doing" need further explanation.

    If what you are "currently doing" has external costs—loss of biodiversity, loss of BC forests' ability to moderate climate, loss of hydrological function, for example—that aren't included in your definition of sustainability, then this definition of "sustainability" is deeply flawed.

    If all you really care about is the flow of "fibre" to mills and log export facilities, then I suppose it's fine.

    1 hour ago, Guest TalkingTrees said:

    This brings me back to my original point: wether you look at mid-term or long-term harvest levels in the timber supply models, the current cut will almost always be higher because we manage for Maximum Sustained Yield (i.e. getting the most biomass possible over the long term by cutting stands when they are at the peak of their growth rate).

    One common element to timber supply reviews is that they always, directly or indirectly, consider the socioeconomic implications of one level of cut over another level. This is done by the chief forester or her deputy. That, it seems to me, is why the current level of cut is always higher than the mid-term harvest level. Political pressure from forestry-dependent communities and direct pressure from the forest industry will always tilt the field in the direction of a higher than sustainable cut. The ministry puts a high value on that pressure. Above, you suggest that the difference between AAC and mid-term harvest level is due to "economic discounting," by which you may be referring to the practice of economists of putting a higher value on what you can cut today than what you can cut in the future. For forest-dependent communities, this practice would better be described as "economic suicide." 

  5. 4 hours ago, Guest Guest said:

    Each year BC government conducts the workplace employee survey , WES, and each year since the Liberals created a deregulated forest industrial complex civil servants have been complaining about how executive simply don't involve staff in bigger picture discussions, namely , whats constitutes those definitions above by which all other work is determined. And yet executive seem also to be bathing in denialism as they ignore the survey results and forge on in their industry centric political agenda and year after year don't engage licensed professionals or employees tasked with the management of these critical issues. Managers forge ahead with some hidden agenda ignoring the WES results which complain each and every year that executive seem to move ahead without involving its own staff, why?

    Hi Guest, thanks for this information. I take it you have worked for MoF. Are the results of the Workplace Environment Survey shared with all employees in that ministry? The information I have is that this survey is conducted every two years. Has the 2020 survey results been released to ministry employees?

  6. 3 hours ago, Guest TalkingTrees said:

    I believe that the author is referencing the 'long term harvest level' as compared to the current AAC. Current AACs are almost always above the LTHL due to economic discounting providing a rationale for primary fall down.

    Thanks for your comment TalkingTrees.

    I don't refer to the long-term harvest level in either this story or "Forestry isn't sustainable, folks." For readers who don't know how the ministry uses that term, it applies to the level of cut the ministry timber supply analysts think might be available 50 to 200 years (or more) from now. Nobody knows what's going to happen next year let alone hundreds of years from now, and I think the ministry's use of this term is pure hubris. How can it know what large disturbances outside its predictions might occur? Fires? Insects? Climate change? Building technology change?

    As you know, the ministry determines a "mid-term harvest level" when it undertakes a timber supply review (TSR). This is the cut that timber supply analysts believe is sustainable between 10 to 50 years out from the time the TSR is complete. In this story I have avoided the use of the word "harvest" and replaced it with the word "cut." Also in this story, I have shifted from using the term "mid-term harvest level" and am using the more understandable term "sustainable cut." I would say, given the ministry's failure to live within even its prescribed AAC in some TSAs, let alone within the mid-term harvest level, that this level of "sustainable cut," too, is entirely theoretical---something that timber supply analysts dream of.

    By using the word "sustainable," I mean sustainable in the sense that what's cut in a year is no more than the growth that occurs in a year. As I pointed out in the previous article, that's the one requirement for FSC certification that's actually measurable. My use of it doesn't infer that I believe that level of cut would be sustainable. As Britneff and Watts point out, that rate of growth is not well understood. Models have been created that claim it's well understood, but many of us can see those models are flawed creations of timber supply analysts at the beck and call of industry. 

    In "Forestry isn't sustainable, folks," I used the term "allowable annual cut" (AAC). This is an aspirational term, like a production goal. What I should have done in that story was use actual cut levels, and compared those with the ministry's various theoretical levels, including "AAC," "mid-term harvest level," and "long-term harvest level." After all, what matters is what's actually happening, not what the ministry would like us to believe is happening. To be able to describe what's actually happening, one has to escape from the theoretical boxes the timber supply analysts have hammered together.

  7. Mapper par excellence David Leversee has done additional work at determining how much of Clayoquot Sound's total area of 279,414 hectares is actually being deferred for two years. He believes that there is only 22,403 hectares of "Good/Medium" old forest that remains unreserved or unprotected.

    Using David's more accurate number, the actual amount of old forest with large or very large trees on which logging is being deferred for two years is as follows:

    Crystalline Creek: 0.1 hectare

    Stockdale Creek: 233.6 hectares

    Incomappleux Valley: 2000 hectares

    Clayoquot Sound: 22,403 hectares

    Skagit-Silverdaisy: 0.0 hectares

    Upper Southgate: 46 hectares

    McKelvie Creek: 2231 hectares

    H'Kusam: 1050 hectares (pending further information)

    Seven Sisters: 4510 hectares (pending further information)

    Total: 32,474 hectares

    This is 9 percent of the area Donaldson claims is being deferred. It's 7.8 percent of the area identified by Price, Holt and Daust as needing immediate protection. Here's a visual comparison of what's needed (Price, Holt & Daust), what Donaldson said he would do, and what he's actually going to do:


  8. 13 hours ago, Guest Waste smoke and mirrors said:

    I make these above statement with a fair amount of anecdotal certainty based on 35.5 years of pensionable BC Forest Inventory, Valuation and Forest Revenue Service with the B.C. Ministry of Forests.

    Can’t quote much past formal research to back my claims but I do believe much work has been done but little (outside brief mention in TSA review docs) ever formally published.

    Thank you for your insight on this "Waste smoke and mirrors".

    The Province's inventory of annual GHG emissions estimates the carbon released by slash burning each year (3.3 megatonnes in 2018), but these estimates miss most of the wood that's left in clearcuts. I have seen estimates that 40 to 60 percent of a cutblock's biomass is left in the clearcut or wasted along the way to end use. That would suggest roughly an equal volume of wood as is harvested, a volume that we know accurately thanks to log scaling. When one does the arithmetic, that 40 to 60 percent waste will release about 40 megatonnes of carbon over time (either quickly in a pile or slash burn, a forest fire, or more slowly as it decomposes. So your insight that this waste is "grossly underestimated" rings true.

    I would like to pursue this with you, confidentially, if you are able. At the least, perhaps we could bring what research the ministry has done out into the light. Please email me at focuspublish@shaw.ca. Thanks again for coming forward.  

  9. 4 hours ago, Guest Atmo Prasad said:

    There is some twisted interpretation of the information presented in this article.  The author is not an expert in timber supply analysis and neither are the two foresters he quoted extensively.  Of the more than 3000 foresters in this province, only about 25 of us can claim to be timber supply analysts.  I am now retired, but during the past 25 years I worked as a timber supply analyst, a senior analyst and as the manager for the analysis section of the Forest Analysis & Inventory Branch of the Ministry of Forests etc. I am very familiar with the 28 Interior TSAs mentioned in this article and I am  confident that the AAC set for each is sustainable. In timber supply analysis, our harvest flow policy is to find the highest sustainable harvest level and then increase the short-term harvest only if that does not lower the highest flat line found.  The higher short-term harvest level found in most Interior TSAs is usually composed of wood killed by the mountain pine beetle or by the recent fires.  The timber supply in these TSAs is expected to decline to the sustainable level after the salvage of dead timber is over.  Construing the current AAC which includes dead wood as unsustainable is just pain wrong.

    As land use decisions change, such as management for caribou habitat, or insects, disease and fires affect the amount of growing stock, the sustainable level of harvest will change.  This is why AACs are re-set periodically. 


    Thanks for joining the conversation Atmo. I appreciate your years of experience and service to the province's forests.

    You say "The higher short-term harvest level found in most Interior TSAs is usually composed of wood killed by the mountain pine beetle or by the recent fires." This is not supported by the ministry's own data.

    I looked at several years of data from the ministry's Harvest Billing System to determine what percentage of the harvest was lodgepole pine in the TSAs with the greatest difference between their current AAC and the mid-term harvest level projected by each TSA's respective timber supply review. As I am sure you can appreciate, that's a lot of data. Let me give you the breakdown for 2018, since that was a fairly high harvest year in BC. The cut that year reached 62.23 million cubic metres, very close to the province's AAC. So what is the breakdown?

    In the Prince George Natural Resource District (Prince George TSA) harvest of lodgepole pine was 19 percent of the total harvest. There's a 32 percent difference between AAC and mid-term harvest level.

    In Okanagan Shuswap Natural Resource District (Okanagan TSA) harvest of lodgepole pine was 14 percent of total harvest. There's a 31 percent difference between AAC and mid-term harvest level.

    In Thompson Rivers Natural Resource District (Kamloops TSA) harvest of lodgepole pine was also 14 percent of total harvest. There's a 29 percent difference between AAC and mid-term harvest level.

    Even in the Quesnel TSA, where 52 percent of the harvest was live and dead pine, there's a 61 percent difference between AAC and mid-term harvest level.

    To the extent that some of the HBS data was for live lodgepole pine, that would reduce the contribution of MPB salvage even lower.

    We both know it's not possible that fire salvage would somehow make up the difference.

    The story reflects your point that the MPB is the reason mid-term harvest level would decline in many Interior TSAs. But that's missing the main point. The need for that decline was known in 2005 and 15 years have gone by without addressing it. The mid-term harvest level will not come fully into effect for some years to come.

    As for your dismissal of the concerns of Martin Watts and Anthony Britneff, they have provided highly detailed analyses and if you disagree with some detail of their work, why not be specific about that so we can address it here?

    Thanks again for coming forward.

  10. 1 hour ago, Guest Yudel said:

    I'm a bit confused by this article. First it says that the increase in the AAC has caused an additional 40,000 ha a year to be logged and that pine (mostly dead from pine beetle) was logged at double the rate of pre-outbreak while logging of unaffected spruce was only cut back by 15%. But then it says (last paragraph of the section 'Origins of the harvest sustainability gap', paragraph starting with 'a common perception') that although the AAC was increased in beetle affected areas, actual logging only increased for two years and that the main impact wasn't increased logging but rather the amalgamation of logging into larger clearcuts. Can anyone please explain to me what was meant in that paragraph?


    Hi Yudel, thanks for your question. I didn't actually say that the "increase in the AAC has caused an additional 40,000 ha a year to be logged". This may be the cause of your confusion.

    The 40,000 ha per year estimate derives from, first, ministry timber supply reviews which have established a mid-term harvest level 14 million cubic metres lower than the current AAC, and second, ministry silviculture reports on how much forest has been logged that provide average volume/hectare. It is not derived from the uplifted AAC in the Interior that occurred during the peak of the beetle infestation.

    As I point out, most of the 40,000 ha per year overcut is a consequence of losses in merchantable volume resulting from the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation. But only a fraction of that volume loss was actually salvaged. The "frenzy" of logging that took place in the Interior around the time Larry Pynn wrote his story was only slightly more frenzied than would have taken place had the beetle infestation not occurred.

    You are mixing apples with oranges, or pine with spruce if you like.

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