Paltry return on forest



The loss of another important intact forest on the Elphinstone slopes is very troubling, and in light of the tiny economic contribution that timber revenues will provide to the province, is equally shocking. The stumpage fees from this timber sale of approximately 23 hectares of old growth forest paid to the province is a paltry $1.3 million – the equivalent of an East Vancouver 30-ft. by 60-ft. property. Are residents getting enough value from these low-elevation, high-use forests?

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The locally based Peninsula Logging may pocket several hundred thousand themselves; however, what investment did this logging company put into the development of the product they’re benefiting from? Zero. A typical business has to invest in the development of the product upfront and may not expect a return on investment for two to five years. In this logging extraction model, all one needs to do is lease equipment, and in a few months of work, big bucks are realized on the back of nature’s growth process.

It’s now accepted in the economic world to place a dollar value on our natural assets. The value that intact forests provide is $10,000 per hectare per year in a range of environmental services in such things as carbon sequestering. The tear down of this Twist and Shout forest will reduce the value of this land to $0. Any economic activity at this site won’t be for another approximately 80 years, whereas every year in its intact state would generate $230,000 in services, including playing a role in the mountain biking draw to the lower Sunshine Coast.

The Elphinstone forests could still be an important protected area for the future, if proper accounting of natural assets is applied and if human greed steps aside.

Ross Muirhead, Elphinstone Logging Focus

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