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Canfor’s forest tenure sale, transfer approved

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Canfor Corporation’s sale and transfer of forest tenure to Peak Renewables to build a new wood pellet plant has been approved by the Government of British Columbia (BC).

Forest tenure includes the ownership, tenancy and other arrangements for the use of forests.

Peak Renewables announced plans last year to buy Canfor’s tenure for $30 million (€20 million), Business in Vancouver reported. It had already acquired a shuttered Canfor sawmill site in Fort Nelson, with the purpose of building a new pellet plant.

BC Forests Minister Katrine Conroy approved the sale and transfer, which was also supported by the Fort Nelson First Nation. Previously, tenure swaps and sales did not require ministerial approval; however, in 2019, the NDP Government introduced new rules requiring the Forests Minister to sign off on tenure sales and transfers – a move driven by concerns that most of BC’s forestry tenure is held by a handful of large firms.

Fort Nelson is one of the few regions in BC with a surplus of harvestable timber. It recently received a boost in its annual allowable cut because it has been under-harvested. This is partly due to the composition of the region’s forests, which is approximately 60% aspen, whereas sawmills mostly want spruce, pine and fir, to create dimensional lumber.

Peak Renewables stated the new pellet plant would employ around 50 people, with woodland operations employing 300-400 people.