It’s unknown how the reduction will impact local companies, such as Tolko, which provide a significant number of jobs in the region. (File photo)

It’s unknown how the reduction will impact local companies, such as Tolko, which provide a significant number of jobs in the region. (File photo)

UPDATE: Tolko responds to chop of allowable Okanagan timber cuts by 20%

Lumber giant operations rely heavily on Okanagan Timber Supply Area

Fewer trees will be logged in the Okanagan this year.

A new allowable annual cut (AAC) level has been set for the Okanagan Timber Supply Area (TSA), effective Thursday, Jan. 27.

Shane Berg, British Columbia’s deputy chief forester, has decreased the AAC by approximately 20 per cent. The change is from 3,078,405 to 2,462,800 cubic metres. The previous AAC included an increase to allow salvage of stands affected by the mountain pine beetle, and was seven percent below the AAC set in 2006, prior to the beetle epidemic.

It’s unknown yet how the cut will impact operations of lumber companies, like the large-scale Tolko Industries. Tolko provides a significant number of jobs in the Southern Interior and supports regional communities.

“Tolko’s manufacturing operations in the Southern Interior of B.C. are all directly dependent on the timber supply from the Okanagan Timber Supply Area,” Tolko’s communications advistor Chris Downey said. “This determination is critically important to the economy and communities in the Southern Interior.

“Tolko is now in the process of assessing any potential impact this reduction in allowable annual cut could have to our Southern Interior operations.”

Numerous comments were received from First Nations, licensees and residents of the TSA, regarding this determination. The new AAC accounts for Indigenous Peoples forestry principles, limits on harvesting in community watersheds, wildlife habitat and a national park reserve area.

The Okanagan TSA overlaps the territories of approximately 28 First Nation communities. The public review and consultation process, which included engagement with First Nations, was initiated in September 2017.

“As always, Tolko supports meaningful Indigenous consultation to achieve reconciliation,” Downey said. “The determination is a critical step in recognizing the important role active forest management can play in ecosystem resilience and wildlife mitigation while maintaining and stimulating the regional economy.

Tolko is hopeful that this allowable annual cut determination will ensure that all forest values, including timber availability, were modelled by the Office of Chief Forester and that the allowable annual cut is sustainable for the future.”

Kelowna is the major population centre in this TSA, which also includes Armstrong, Chase, Coldstream, Enderby, Keremeos, Lake Country, Lumby, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Penticton, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Spallumcheen, Summerland, Vernon, West Kelowna and the unincorporated areas of north and south Okanagan.

The Okanagan TSA covers about 2.45 million hectares in the Thompson-Okanagan region, with approximately 31 per cent of the total TSA area available for timber harvesting. The major tree species in the area include Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, spruce and balsam.

The chief forester’s AAC determination is an independent, professional judgment based on information ranging from technical forestry reports, First Nations and public input to the government’s social and economic goals.

Under the Forest Act, the chief forester must determine the AAC in each of the province’s 37 timber supply areas and 34 tree farm licences at least once every 10 years.

The AAC was last changed in 2012.

READ MORE: Okanagan timber allowance chopped

READ MORE: Vernon logging company ‘could have done more’ to prevent landslides, watchdog says


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