Overcut, Based on TSA and TFL Data, 1998
(An excerpt from Falldown)
In British Columbia, the Crown owns about 95 percent of forest land, which it rents out as “tenures” for logging and other uses. About 57 percent of logging is authorized under Forest Licenses, which specify volume-based Timber Supply Areas (TSAs), and Tree Farm Licenses (TFLs), which specify a particular area where logging is to take place. In both cases, emphasis of rights and responsibilities is based on economic and political requirements rather than ecological criteria. These licenses include the Allowable Annual Cut (AAC), which has been used as a quota to meet rather than a limit not to exceed. This tenure system was established in the mid-1940s to provide employment in rural regions as well as “sustained yield forestry.” The economic sustained yield through replanting of logged-over areas with commercial trees—and, as a result, the creation of second-growth stands—largely did not occur because neither governments nor companies live long enough to reap the benefits of replanting.
The Ministry of Forests has recently undertaken an assessment of all forest regions and established a measure known as the Long Term Harvesting Level (LTHL). This is an estimate of the amount of timber available from "mature" and second-growth forests and the level of cut the Ministry deems economically sustainable. The difference between the LTHL and the AAC, called "falldown" by the Ministry, indicates how much greater the authorized logging volume is than the available resources. As the map indicates, there are regions in British Columbia where the AAC exceeds the estimates of available timber by over 100 percent. Most regions in the interior and all regions at the coast have substantial overcuts. The average overcut for the province is nearly 22 percent.
Had sufficient second-growth stands been planted and managed, the yield would still be less than the original ecological system prior to logging. The fact that trees were not replanted means that even a reduced yield cannot be expected. Discontinuing past practices and reducing the AAC would provide vital resource renewal.
Map by: Ecotrust Canada
Created: January 1, 1998