In May 2015, a human-caused wildfire burned approximately 24 thousand hectares (Ha) of the Bobtail Forest area located west of Prince George, British Columbia. Before the devastating fire, part of this forest area had been harvested for sawlog and pulp production.
A story of innovation, renewed forests, and environmental recovery
In 2019, West Fraser and Pacific BioEnergy (PacBio) entered into an arrangement allowing PacBio to utilize a portion of West Fraser’s Bioenergy Forest License.
The Bobtail Fire area was selected as an area for exercising the Bioenergy Forest License because requirements usually prohibit fibre harvesting in areas suitable for sawlog harvesting. However, the available fibre had been considered waste and unsuitable for sawlog or pulp production due to the extensive amount of burnt and charred fibre.
Throughout the arrangement, PacBio will rehabilitate over 1,800 Ha of burnt stands in the Bobtail Fire area. Several species of trees will be planted to avoid a monoculture plantation that can be detrimental to creating niche spaces for species. Reforestation contractors have already planted one million seedlings as part of their reforestation obligations!
With the project, PacBio has chosen not to spray herbicides and instead has utilized livestock grazing with sheep and goats sourced from and managed by local ranchers. It can significantly reduce brush species’ growth without eliminating ecologically essential species from the landscape, leading to increased water retention within the soil and increased soil fertility.
As part of the project, dead and decaying wood that was releasing carbon and acting as a carbon source was recovered and utilized. The area is being immediately reforested, converting a carbon source into a carbon sink, restoring a damaged carbon cycle much quicker than what would have occurred naturally.
Without these efforts, the stands affected by the Bobtail Fire would have taken decades longer to fully recover. By harvesting, reforesting, and managing the forest, Mother Nature is given a jump start on recovery.