Benefits for forest planning and harvesting

Across Canada, landowners (usually the provinces) and land managers (often companies operating on public lands) are using enhanced inventory information to make more informed decisions that are reducing costs and increasing profits. Provinces and companies are working closely with the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, FPInnovations and other partners to develop inventory solutions specific to their strategic and operational needs.

In Ontario, for example, enhanced inventory on Tembec Inc.’s 650,000-hectare Romeo Malette Forest is saving the company approximately $2.4 million per year. Accurate information on tree size and product potential is allowing Tembec to move the right-sized wood to the right mill, saving more than $2 million per year. The construction of more efficient and environmentally sound forest road systems, based on accurate digital elevation and surface information, is generating an additional annual savings of $400,000.

In Quebec, automatic mapping algorithms based on enhanced inventory produce forest maps more efficiently and accurately than can existing manual approaches. The automated maps will be produced and distributed with scales tailored to user needs. A primary version of the mapping algorithm has already allowed the Province of Quebec to save $3 million per year in its current forest inventory cycle.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, enhanced wood fibre information has added value to the existing inventory, to the benefit of both government and industry. Industry is now better positioned to allocate wood for the best end uses and provide more accurate costing of wood in harvest planning systems. By better controlling incoming fibre variability, the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd. mill estimates savings of $230,000 annually by each 1% substitution of high-density balsam fir in place of black spruce. The enhanced fibre information will also help to equip the mill to meet client demands for products with specific quality characteristics, such as strength. In addition, enhanced inventory information will support government strategic efforts to enhance the forest sector by supporting the development of new products that optimize the use of forest raw materials.

In British Columbia and Alberta, West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. is using enhanced inventory for the 989,000-hectare Hinton Forest Management Area. The company has succeeded in effectively and inexpensively processing the enhanced information derived from remote sensing and localizing the information with greater precision than traditional inventory systems. The enhanced inventory system provides more accurate information on tree height and volume and new variables that measure wood properties.

Enhanced forest inventory positions the forest sector to respond to new business opportunities, such as bioenergy, and changes in policy, such as forest tenure reform, which require timely, detailed and spatially accurate information about forest resources. Operational business decisions as well as strategic investments by both private and public sectors will also rely on accurate forest inventory.

But ultimately, it is resource-dependent communities across the country that stand to benefit from enhanced forest inventory—through economic prosperity. For example, in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is hoped that an enhanced forest inventory will help ensure the future of the only pulp and paper mill in the province.