Renfrew County forest will be profitable until 2040
Sean Chase/Daily Observer County forester Lacey Rose gives an overview of the Forestry Managment Plan that the county hopes to implement over the next 10 years.
Renfrew County’s managed forests will remain profitable until the year 2040, however, depleted stocks will need to be renewed to make the industry financially viable.
That was the overall message to County council Wednesday as they reviewed a new forestry management plan that will guide operations for the next 10 years. The plan will soon be circulated to municipalities and the public before County council will be asked to endorse in February.
The Renfrew County Forest includes 6,527 hectares scattered over 53 parcels of land made up of mixed woods, hardwoods, white and red pine. There are smaller tracts of land containing cedar, upland and lowland conifer, red oak, spruce and tolerant hardwood. About 64 per cent of the current inventory is between 60 and 120 years old and will be ready for harvest over the next 15 years. County forester Lacey Rose warned council that the harvest area and revenues are anticipated to drop in the future.
“We can’t maintain an even harvest level/financial return with current forest conditions,” said Rose. “But the plan’s goal is to optimize economic return on harvest, with strategies to sustain revenue for as long as possible.”
An average of 2.8 per cent of county forests are scheduled to be harvested annually. That is a total area of 1,607 hectares. If all tendered harvest areas are successfully sold at expected market prices between now and 2026, the projected revenue earned by the county is $1.8 million amounting to $180,000 a year.
An estimated 130 hectares of red and white pine will have to be artificially regenerated at a cost of $260,000. Rose recommended 15 per cent of all revenues be placed in a forest renewal reserve for this eventuality. Once grown, these new trees will provide financial resources to future generations, she added.
“We are always thinking 150 years into the future,” said Rose adding so far 50,000 news trees have been planted to begin replacing the soon-to-be harvested red and white forests. “The county provides a lot of value to residents by managing these forests and protecting these forests at world class standards.”
The plan not only manages the forests to maximize the economic sustainability of products but it sets out to protect and enhance wildlife and fisheries, provide recreational opportunities, rehabilitate waste lands and preserve water sources by preventing erosion and establishing vegetative cover.
Although there was a decline in the forestry industry in 2008-2009, Rose added there has been some recovery but it remains difficult to predict the market for some wood products. The forest sector directly and indirectly employs 6,900 people in the county.
She noted that two tracts of the Renfrew County Forest near Golden Lake and Deacon have been identified as proposed settlement lands in the Agreement-in-Principle between the province, the federal government and the Algonquins of Ontario.