Feb 6, 2009

The biggest forest crisis? A lack of imagination.


Everywhere you turn it’s bleak news for BC’s forest economy. Sawmills and pulp mills shuttered left and right, and a provincial government whose lame response is simply to say we’ve got to tough it out until markets improve and some of those mothballed mills possibly re-open. Not exactly encouraging words if you happen to live in Mackenzie – down 1,200 jobs in recent years.

In the meantime, people like ‘retired’ forest industry executive, Christopher Scott, dare to dream. Scott’s modest proposal? Make BC a world leading producer of a radically new product line that revolutionizes the way we build wood-frame housing, particularly for the poor, and that has enormous environmental benefits to boot.

Jettison the two-by-four in favor of ingeniously shaped boards that viewed on end look like Capital Is or Cs. Possessed of the same strength as the lowly, oft maligned wood stud, these uniquely shaped boards lie snugly together, meaning more of them can be shipped at one time than regular dimensional lumber. Translation: lower transportation costs and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Better still, more of each tree is used to make the boards, meaning less waste and more forest conservation. For an informative look at what could lay the foundation for a revitalized forest industry in BC – given the requisite political will, that is – check out