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Home > Alberta's Resource Inventory > Forests > Agents of Change >   Harvesting on Private Land

Resource Inventory

Harvesting on Private Land

Timber HarvestingIn recent years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of timber harvested on private land in Alberta. The amount of timber harvested from private lands in 1994 and 1995, a total of 7,350,000 cubic metres, accounted for more than 18 percent of the provincial total in those two years. Depending on the average yield per hectare, this harvesting represents a total area somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 hectares.

Why was there a sudden increase? Alberta forestry companies, and others from outside the province, offered good prices for timber. With a growing scarcity of commercial timber supplies in British Columbia and Montana, Alberta's privately owned timber suddenly became a valuable commodity. This was particularly true when some of the non-resident logging companies offered to pay landowners two or three times the Alberta price for their trees. Much of the logged private land was then converted to agricultural use, such as livestock grazing, rather than establishing a sustainable woodlot operation.

To date, most logging on private lands has occurred along the eastern foothills, in the Peace River region, and in the Whitecourt and Lac La Biche areas. Many of Alberta's FMA and Timber Quota holders must continue to meet their demands by purchasing timber outside of their disposition area.

Although most landowners are generally good stewards of the land, harvesting timber on private lands is not without its ecological risks. This is particularly true for private lands that are not managed as private woodlots for timber production. Most of the regulations governing logging practices on public land in Alberta do not apply to private land; however, some environmental legislation does still apply: Alberta's Soil Conservation Act, the Water Act, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the federal Fisheries Act.

Department of the Environment. State of the Environment Report, Terrestrial Ecosystems. Edmonton: n.p., 2001. With permission from Alberta Environment.

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