District of Mission photo.

Mission’s annual tree farm cut increased 33%, will add $450,000 to district coffers

Province decision on July 7 increases allowable cut from 45,000 to 60,000 cubric metres

The District of Mission will see a huge annual boost in revenue due to the provincial decision to increase the allowable cut from the Mission Tree Farm.

It’s predicted the additional volume (45,000 to 60,000 cubic metres) will add $450,000 to the district’s coffers, according to district staff report.

The new level, effective immediately, was determined by Diane Nicholls, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development on July 7.

The chief forester’s determination reflects updated data, showing tree stands have higher volume and are growing faster than previously thought, according to the ministry.

“The positive financial impacts to our community from the increase in the level cut, based on my initial forecasts, appear to be quite significant, even when using conservative timber price estimates in our in our modeling,” Chris Gruenwald, director of forestry for the district. “Our community is going to benefit tremendously.”

In 2018, the district invested in researching with Lidar technology to “fine-tooth comb” the Mission Tree Farm’s available volume, according to Kelly Cameron, forestry technologist with the district.

Lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging, uses remote sensors to measure the surface of the earth. The data can be used to generate predictions on forest growth and structure.

“Tree stands which we assumed were producing 500 to 600 cubic metres a hectare, were actually producing 750 to 950 cubic metres,” Cameron said during a July 20 council meeting. “I believe we’ve been undercutting for the last 30 years.”

There are now 6,563 hectares available for harvesting out of the district’s 10,935 hectares (66 per cent). The extra volume will not require additional staffing for the district, according to Cameron.

“[It] doesn’t really come at an extra workload for us,” she said. “There will be a cost in more timber [as] there are more trees to plant, there’s more tree’s to manage … But the benefit of the revenue created off that extra volume, with our fixed administrative costs, is going to show.”

The annual cut levels are determined every 10 years by the ministry, but the levels have sat at unchanged since 1989 levels. The 2009 financial crash and subsequent economic downturn played a part in the 2010 determination to keep the volume the same, according to Cameron.

Gruenwald said staff will conduct a “long-term comprehensive planning exercise” this fall, to minimize the impacts on non-timber economic value such as recreational use.

RELATED: B.C. struggles with local food production in COVID-19 pandemic

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