Canadian Biomass Magazine

News Harvesting
FESBC funding chipping projects that prevent slash burning in BC


December 10, 2019
By Forest Enhancement Society of BC

Topics
Photo courtesy Westwood Fibre Resources Ltd.

$1.4 million in funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) in partnership with the B.C. government and the government of Canada is achieving greenhouse gas reduction targets while creating economic sustainability. The funding addresses the uneconomic viability of processing low-grade fibre, like small-diameter treetops, by supporting the incremental hauling costs of fibre to Okanagan-based BC EcoChips Ltd.

About 325,000 cubic metres of normally unmerchantable wood fibre will be saved from burning in slash piles over the next four years. Over 35,000 cubic metres have already been hauled and chipped since spring 2019. The project is being managed by Westwood Fibre Resources Ltd. of Kamloops, B.C. President Jim Thrower said they are working with Weyerhaeuser to secure the additional fibre to haul to BC EcoChips Ltd. facilities in Princeton and Okanagan Falls, B.C.

“We oversee the recovery from bush operations and delivery of the tops into the log yards at Princeton and OK Falls where they are chipped by BC EcoChips Ltd.,” said Thrower. “This project is allowing the delivery and utilization of material that would otherwise be burned.”

Much of the fibre being hauled includes the tops generated by Weyerhaeuser’s primary harvesting in the Merritt and Okanagan timber supply areas. The tops are delivered, along with primary harvest material, to facilitate the recovery of the fibre.

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,” said Thrower. “Every step in the supply chain is enhanced and results in new work.”

The fibre will also support maintaining even more jobs in pulp mills and bioenergy plants.

“We’re excited to support the maximum utilization of forest fibre to create jobs and fight climate change,” said Dave Conly, FESBC operations manager.

Tops are estimated to be about 10 per cent 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 is the largest variable cost, meaning that recovering low-grade fibre, like small diameter treetops, from remote locations is just too expensive. FESBC is funding 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 Conly. “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.”