FESBC helps community recover burned wood for bioenergy

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The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) has helped a community to harvest wood burned in wildfires to convert into bioenergy.

After a wildfire burns through a forest, a lot of debris and charred trees are left behind, as in the Elephant Hill fire in 2017. Often, this charred woody fibre can burn again but is left and not salvaged, as the economic cost of doing so outweighs the market value.

The Clinton Community Forest (CCF) applied for funding from FESBC to protect the community by recovering burned fibre.

In partnership with Ledcor Group and Arrow Transportation Systems, FESBC and CCF aimed to recover as much burned and waste fibre as possible. $512,000 (€360,000) in funding was provided to recover and utilise 32,000 cubic metres of low-quality residual fibre – around 580 truckloads.

“Usable and viable timber can still be salvaged after wildfire – but only for so long afterwards,” said Steve Law, RPF, general manager at CCF.

“Normally, we’d selectively log Douglas Fir and have about 50% remaining. After a large fire, most of the work involves replanting without offsetting the cost through selling the logs. Without funding from FESBC, this work would not have been economical, and the fibre likely would have been burned. The financial support allowed us to recover the fibre instead.”

“Some of the fibre recovered was ground and trucked by Arrow and Ledcor to Kamloops,” said Ian Brown, vice-president of woodlands and fibre procurement at Ledcor Group.

“This fibre was used as biofuel to make electricity and thermal power, and in some instances, the fire-affected biomass logs were trucked to and sorted at River City Fibre to make pulp products and biofuel.”

The project included funding of $128,000 (€90,000) to create a 100-metre wide fuel break southeast of the Village of Clinton to help reduce future wildfire risk to the community. A fuel break is a zone where trees are spaced further apart, and the amount of flammable wood is reduced to slow down a wildfire.