Timber and Silviculture

Forestry is the main economic sector, providing about one quarter of local employment.

Less than half the plan area is forested and only 26% (~296,000 hectares) is suitable and economical for timber harvesting (see map).

Within the timber harvesting land base, transportation distances, terrain and growing conditions create a wide range of timber values; less than 20% is considered to be high value.

Wildlife trees serve as habitat for over 70 different vertebrate species in British Columbia, which makes them a natural structure of utmost importance to the ecosystem. The protection of the trees should be managed in a way that it will not reduce the timber supply too severely. There are default practises that can be used, however, licensees can also give specific details about their own strategies in their Forest Stewardship Plans. There are still requirements to be followed regarding percentage of wildlife tree retention in cutblock areas. For the whole area of all the cutblocks a minimum of 7% has to be wildlife tree retention area. For individual cutblocks the wildlife tree retention area has to be 3.5%.

Locating wildlife tree retention needs to be done in consideration of three factors. Trees with valuable structures for wildlife need to be protected. If there are not many valuable wildlife tree characteristics the retention area has to be relocated to a more suitable area and if there are no signs at all the retention area has to be the representative of the pre-harvest stand.

Considering areas that already show high-value wildlife trees attributes or areas where operation is constrained but show good wildlife tree structures will reduce the impact on timber supply. There is patch retention and dispersed retention, however, not all types will fit all harvesting sites. It is also recommended to use more than one type to maintain biodiversity. Windthrow and forest health are two aspects that need to be assessed and included into management. Windthrow can be reduced, however, it is a natural occurrence which creates very valuable structures like coarse woody debris. The debris is used by animals as shelter and habitat making it important to leave the debris on the ground throughout cutblocks. Ensuring safe working conditions is another big part of organization, having experts assessing the area beforehand and identifying dangerous trees.

Until the trees from the cutblock have grown mature seral attributes the retention area has to be left. After it can be reassessed and maybe relocated. Monitoring the areas is part of the licensee's responsibilities. With wildlife tree retention it is possible to keep a large biodiversity and keep the timber industry running.

Source: Wildlife Tree Retention: Management Guidance


  • Limited understanding of First Nations land uses and practices have led to conflicts over forest practices and harvesting deferrals.
  • Mountainous terrain, high harvesting costs, limited infrastructure and restricted access have made local industry vulnerable to poor market conditions and limited their ability to harvest the allowable annual cut.
  • Forest licensees often bear the costs of planning for non-timber resources.
  • Visual quality objectives and “green-up” periods can conflict with timber supply needs.
  • Forest fires and forest health agents that occur outside the timber harvesting land base and are not controlled can affect the quality, quantity and long term availability of timber within it.
  • There is unrealized potential to improve the quantity and quality of future forests through better silvicultural practices and resource information.


  • Achieve harvest of the allowable annual cut.
  • Achieve a sustainable supply of economically viable timber.
  • Maintain environmental standards while minimizing costs and addressing other resource values.
  • Foster and support an economically vibrant and ecologically sustainable forest sector.
Objectives Management Direction/Strategies Measures of Success/Targets Intent
1. Identify an economically viable and operationally feasible timber supply in the plan area for the next 20 years 1.1 Forest licensees, working with the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, complete a short term timber availability assessment that includes:

(i) An identification of the approximate timber sources over the next 20 years, and

(ii) An identification of key resource management issues, and recommendations for resolution of these issues affecting this timber supply

Timber and Economic Recovery Plan analyses completed (in 2004) and considered in government priority setting
1.2 Encourage the forest industry to work cooperatively with government agencies and other participants to resolve resource management issues Timber and Economic Recovery Plan analyses completed (in 2004) and considered in government priority setting
1.3 The forest industry, working with appropriate federal and provincial agencies, will work cooperatively with First Nations to attempt to resolve constraints on the timber supply for the next 20 years. This may include considering First Nations land uses, practices and values and allowing for incorporation of available, relevant First Nations data in planning processes Number of years of identified economically viable timber supply 100% of allowable annual cut achieved
2. Achieve reductions in harvesting costs through the development of alternative harvesting prescriptions that are consistent with LRMP direction. 2.1 Seek opportunities for cost reduction through results based and performance based management, and professional accountability. Coordinate with new policy initiatives for results based forest management
2.2 Encourage forest licensees to complete an economic timber opportunity study to refine the current operability mapping. Mapping completed
3. Apply THLB planning allowances (see Table 1) to achieve the greatest benefits for specified wildlife species and provide a high degree of timber supply certainty 3.1 MSRM, in consultation with MOF and WLAP, to develop a process for tracking THLB planning allowances Process for tracking THLB planning allowances to be developed prior to plan implementation
4. Encourage innovative silvicultural and harvesting regimes to achieve management objectives for non-timber resources 4.1 Encourage timber harvesting where it would benefit wildlife (refer to details in Wildlife, Species at Risk, and Forest Biodiversity and Grassland Ecosystems) The entire THLB will not require innovative silvicultural or harvesting systems to achieve management objectives for nontimber resources. A significant proportion of the plan area is currently managed using innovative practices. These practices might include:

  • adjusted cutblock size or shape to retain visual quality;
  • modified clearcut systems, such as small patch clearcuts, feathered edges, green tree retention or deciduous tree retention;
  • harvest and leave patterns;
  • alternative harvesting systems, such as highlead, helicopter, small machinery or horse-logging; and
  • alternative silvicultural systems, such as selection or shelterwood
4.2 Where management for nontimber resources has the potential to make harvesting THLB uneconomical, consider innovative regimes to resolve the conflicts Innovative silvicultural and harvesting regimes used to achieve management objectives for nontimber resources
5. Ensure access to the THLB within the plan area consistent with LRMP direction 5.1 Encourage coordination of road planning and utilization among forestlicensees Percentage of the timber harvesting land base accessible for development To reduce the amount of mainline road construction required by forest development licensees
5.2 Encourage forest licensees to explore opportunities to coordinate funding and share costs amongst all users (i.e. partnerships between forest licensees and public recreation groups) for existing and future road networks and activities (construction, maintenance, deactivation, etc.) Public use, and other commercial use, follows forestry development. Those users who directly benefit from the development of new roads should share in the funding
5.3 Encourage total resource planning for forest road development
5.4 Encourage licensees to consider longer planning horizons when assessing appropriate road deactivation levels and activities
6. Enhance timber production through silviculture and management practices to increase stand yields and value 6.1 Rapidly regenerate previously forested sites within the THLB using diverse, ecologically appropriate and commercially viable timber species Improved timber yields and value
6.2 Encourage commercial thinning, fertilization, and pruning where economic benefits can be expected
6.3 Where appropriate, encourage the rehabilitation of sites where fibre productivity could be enhanced
7. Improve local information on timber productivity from managed forests 7.1 Conduct a local study on site index to determine the actual site productivity of managed forests Local studies on timber productivity in managed forests
8. Foster improved communications between timber tenure holders, First Nations and other resource users 8.1 Develop and implement a system to track archaeological site information in a way that respects First Nations concerns regarding the protection of this information, and that supports improved planning for timber harvesting Improved communications between timber tenure holders, First Nations and other users
8.2 Encourage licensees to maintain contact with, and offer feedback to, those who submit comments on forest plans Improved communications between timber tenure holders, First Nations and other users
8.3 Review issues and recommendations relating to livestock / water / riparian area management
9. Minimize losses in timber resources from forest pests, diseases and fire 9.1 Monitor the forested landbase, including protected areas, for forest pests, diseases and fire Reduced timber volume losses due to fire, pests, disease
10. Minimize impacts of resource management activities on botanical forest products 10.1 Review the impacts of resource management activities on the use and collection of botanical forest products

Table 1

Timber Harvesting Land Base Planning Allowances

Resource Maximum hectares Percentage of timber
harvesting land base
Mule deer winter range 6,000 ha 2.0%
Grizzly bear 8,000 ha 2.7%
Spotted owl 5,000 ha 1.7%
Total 19,000 ha 6.4%

Table 1 Notes

  • Planning allowances have been created to increase environmental protection, decrease costs and provide certainty. The allowances are maximum amounts and not targets. They apply to commercial forestry operations and woodlots. They are not intended to affect incidental harvesting required for non-forestry uses (e.g., energy, mineral or tourism development; roads or other infrastructure).
  • Planning allowances are in addition to various reductions to the productive forest land base that are identified in the Chief Forester’s Lillooet Sub Region Rationale for Allowable Annual Cut Determination Effective January 1, 2002.
  • The allowance for grizzly bears will be applied first to the Stein/Nahatlatch grizzly bear population unit and then the South Chilcotin grizzly bear population unit.
  • The allowance for spotted owls is for interim management until a plan for the management or recovery of owls in the Lillooet area is in place. Changes to this allowance will be evaluated once the plan for owls is prepared.
  • Planning allowances are to be applied to the resource values specified in Table 1. They are not to be “traded” between values. Efforts will be made during implementation of the Lillooet LRMP to overlap these allowances with other values in order to reduce impacts to the timber harvesting land base.
  • A procedure for tracking the allocation of allowances will be developed by the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, ideally before plan implementation, in co-operation with the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, the Ministry of Forests and stakeholders.