In 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.
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.