Municipal logging program generates minimal profits, ships raw logs offshore
More than six out of 10 trees harvested in North Cowichan’s municipal forest reserve last year were exported as raw logs, according to the 2019 Forestry Report.
Raw-log exports totalled 63 per cent of the municipal harvest of 15,255 cubic metres in 2019, up from 58 per cent of 11,562 cubic metres in 2018.
That’s right, in the midst of a moratorium on new logging contracts pending a public consultation on the 5,000-hectare forest reserve, the municipality found a way to increase harvesting through blowdown timber and fulfillment of outstanding logging contracts.
The fact that most of North Cowichan’s logs are exported further erodes the argument that logging of the forest reserve is needed to support the local economy.
Note that logging last year in the forest reserve created as few as an estimated 10 direct jobs — at least two of those municipal staffers. And the two logging companies that operated in the reserve were from outside North Cowichan.
Truth is, there are far better ways for the municipality to earn income from our forests — namely, carbon-credit cash for leaving our trees standing.
A report for North Cowichan by 3GreenTree Ecosystem Services Ltd. states, “Initial estimates indicate that a carbon offset project on the MFR could provide an ongoing, stable revenue source to the MNC competitive with the current logging model….”
Meanwhile, logging in the municipal forest reserve achieved gross revenues of $1.5 million last year — but don’t get excited.
When you subtract all the costs of getting that timber, the forestry program winds up with a net profit of $275,255.
The net profit includes $86,066 for cell-tower rentals and $13,169 as “other revenue.” Deduct those items and the net profit drops to $176,020.
The cell-tower rental first shows up on the forestry books in 2017, generating $86,658 in revenue. Subtract that amount along with $11,625 in other revenue from the forestry program’s stated net income of $130,167.
That leaves just $31,884 in net logging profits — yet all North Cowichan citizens live with the ugly and environmentally damaging legacy of these clearcuts for decades.