Forest Management Tips

Wildfire Response Agreement Renewals

wildfire image

Photo credit: Wildfire Management Branch

Since 1964, the Wildfire Management Branch of the provincial government has engaged in cost-sharing protocols with stakeholders including First Nations, the forest industry, private landowners, utilities, railways and the federal government.

An increase in the use of services, and cost-sharing agreements, began in 2004 with the introduction of the Wildfire Act and Regulations.

The act and regulations allow a person to enter into a cost-sharing agreement, or a service agreement, with the Wildfire Management Branch where, for a fee, the branch will undertake fire control services on wildfires that would otherwise be the responsibility of the individual entity.

In 2013, changes to the agreement wording and fee structure were incorporated and a risk-based pricing model was implemented. The user-pay model is applied consistently to all agreement holders. A six-step process is used to determine annual fees, using factors like:

  • Total area in each fire weather index zone
  • Average hectares burned annually in each fire weather index zone
  • Inherent risk of burning for each fire weather index zone
  • Provincial fire suppression costs proportionally allocated to each fire weather index zone
  • Wildfire response rates determined for each fire weather index zone

The Wildfire Management Branch works closely with each agreement holder to refine their wildfire response rate based on risk adjustment factors and resource discount factors appropriate to each agreement holder’s situation.

The latest three-year contracts expired in 2016. With fire season just around the corner, the Wildfire Management Branch sent renewal contracts to landowners in mid-March for the fire season starting in April.

If your land falls within a municipal fire protection district you’re covered by your local fire department. If your land doesn’t fall within a municipal fire protection district and you’re interested in learning more about wildfire response agreements, please contact the Wildfire Management Branch for more detailed information.

Managing Wildlife Habitat: The Northern Goshawk (Part 2)

northern goshawk chicks in a nest

Goshawk nest with chicks. Photo credit: Grant Eldridge.

Responsible habitat management is a defining characteristic of private forest stewardship in B.C. To help small-forest owners be the best forest stewards they can be, we’ve put together a 2-part series titled “Managing Wildlife Habitat: Everything You Need to Know About Northern Goshawks”.

In the first post we introduced some defining characteristics of the species and briefly explained why it’s important to pay close attention to coastal Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis laingi).

This second post includes information to help you identify nests on your property, as well as better understand the timing and chronology of Northern Goshawk breeding.

Where do Northern Goshawks make their nests?

Norhtern Goshawk nest with chicks

Goshawk nest near Upper Quinsam River. Photo credit: Rick Merriman.

In general, the Northern Goshawk laingi subspecies select nesting habitat based on stand structure rather than stand age and species composition. Common characteristics of nest stands include:

  • Mature forests (45+ years)
  • Closed canopies
  • Good flyways and understory spacing
  • Relatively large diameter trees

Goshawks select nest trees with structural attributes strong enough to support their relatively large stick nests. Douglas-fir (Fd), western hemlock (Hw) and red alder (Dr) are the most common tree species used for Northern Goshawk nests, but you can also find nests in balsam (Ba) and bigleaf maples (Mb).

Goshawks build large stick nests in the lower levels of the live canopy (at about 2/3rd stand height). Often, a fork or crook in the tree is used as a base, but a sturdy branch whorl can also be used to support a large nest.

It’s common for Northern Goshawks to reuse old nests. Alternate nests (from previous years) can usually be found 100–200 metres away, within a range of 50m-800m.

Northern Goshawk breeding chronology

(If it helps to imagine Morgan Freeman’s voice narrating this section, we understand.)

Courting and breeding (late February to April)—males perform aerial displays to attract females, pairs mate and nests are built.

Incubation (May)—the female incubates the eggs in the nest while the male of the pair provides her with food.

Nestling (late May to late June)—the chicks hatch and remain in the nest where they’re fed by the adult birds. The male forages far from the nest, while the female remains close by.

Fledgling phase (late June to July)—this is when the chicks learn to fly and hunt, but they stay close to the nest and are still mostly fed by the adults.

Dispersal (August to early September)—by now the fledglings’ feathers have hardened and the juvenile and adult birds disperse from the nest area.

What do Northern Goshawks eat?  

Norther Goshawk plucking post

Example of a plucking post with prey remains.

Goshawks are opportunistic and eat a variety of prey. Squirrels, rabbits, hares, crows, grouse, jays, thrushes, woodpeckers and other medium-sized birds and mammals are among the main items in the Northern Goshawk’s diet.

A robust prey population is important for the species. Snags, course woody debris and diverse ecosystems are known to support an abundance of prey species.

Generally, hunting is carried out under the forest canopy—where the Northern Goshawk can move unnoticed through dense cover and overcome its prey in mid-air with a burst of speed—but Northern Goshawks can also hunt in open areas.

Once captured, the Northern Goshawk plucks its prey on a convenient flat surface (plucking post) near the nest, often an old stump or large snag.

How to recognize a Northern Goshawk nest?

You can easily see plenty of evidence below an active nest, but you might also find signs of nesting throughout an occupied territory.

signs of a Northern Goshawk nest above

Image of feathers, whitewash and pellets suggesting a goshawk nest above.

Obvious signs of an active nest include:

  • Molted adult Northern Goshawk feathers
  • Whitewash and pellets
  • Bones and feathers of prey

Ground searches around a Northern Goshawk nest late in the breeding season (July-August) will often indicate if and when the nest has been active.

A large robust nest with abundant whitewash and a littering of bones, feathers and pellets below has likely supported juvenile goshawks, whereas a nest with only older bones and feathers can indicate a successful nest a year or two earlier with whitewash and pellets washed away by heavy precipitation.

Minor amounts of prey remains and whitewash could indicate an unsuccessful nest, while a dilapidated nest that’s falling apart suggests the nest is more than 1 or 2 years old.

Beware: Northern Goshawks are fiercely protective

The Northern Goshawk is well known for fiercely defending its nest. Northern Goshawks occasionally attack people and other animals that approach their nests too closely. When agitated or disturbed during nesting season an adult Northern Goshawk will dive bomb and alarm call “ke-ke-ke-ke”.

Another big thanks to Molly Hudson, biologist with TimberWest, for her expertise in helping us put this information together.

We’ve included a few more images of Northern Goshawk nests in different tree species below for your reference.

Northern Goshawk nest  rsz_20140610_-_uphar3_3

Northern Goshawk nest

5 Facts About Water Quality Protection on Managed Forest Land

image of forest owners identifying land resources for forest inventoryMarch 21st, 2016 is International Day of Forests—a United Nations global initiative to raise awareness about the important and significant contributions forests and trees make to humanity.

In the spirit of the 2016 theme “forests and water”, we put together five facts about water quality protection on private managed forest land in B.C.

  1. Water quality is one of the key public environmental values B.C.’s private forest landowners commit to protect as a condition of eligibility into the managed forest classification.
  1. Private forest owners are legislated by a number of acts and regulations in place to ensure quality human drinking water for British Columbians, including: Federal Fisheries Act, Forest Management Regulation, Water Act, Drinking Water Protection Act, Water Sustainability Act, Fish Protection Act, Private Managed Forest Land Regulation.
  1. Government agencies, at both federal and provincial levels, oversee the protection of water quality on private managed forest land in British Columbia, including: Managed Forest Council, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health and Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
  1. B.C.’s managed forest lands are uniquely situated close to communities which makes watershed management and domestic water quality top priorities for planning, assessment and monitoring.
  1. Private forest landowners engage with local watershed stakeholder groups to help educate community members about the level of care and attention that goes into managing watersheds on private forest land, including:
    • San Juan Stewardship Roundtable
    • Cowichan River Stewardship Roundtable
    • Cowichan Watershed Board
    • Cowichan VRD Regional Watershed Governance
    • Shawnigan Basin Society/Shawnigan Watershed Roundtable
    • Nanaimo River Watershed Roundtable
    • Englishman River Steering Committee (led by Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Society)
    • Regional District of Nanaimo Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Program, in particular the watershed monitoring and school education programs
    • Comox Lake Watershed Advisory Group
    • Campbell River Technical Watershed Committee

Managing Wildlife Habitat: The Northern Goshawk (Part 1)

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk laingi subspecies. Photo credit: Rory Hill

Responsible habitat management is a defining characteristic of private forest stewardship in B.C. To help small-forest owners be the best forest stewards they can be, we’ve put together a 2-part series titled “Managing Wildlife Habitat: Everything You Need to Know About Northern Goshawks”.

In the first post we introduce some defining characteristics of the species and briefly explain why, as a forest owner or land manager in British Columbia, it’s important to pay close attention to coastal Northern Goshawks.

Why Do Northern Goshawks Matter?

Presently, coastal Northern Goshawks (laingi subspecies) are red-listed by the BC Conservation Data Centre (you can learn more about what it means to be on the red list from the B.C. Ministry of Environment website).

Coastal Northern Goshawks are also listed as a threatened species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) — a federal committee that assesses and designates which wildlife species are in danger of disappearing from Canada—and the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) lists the coastal Northern Goshawk as a Schedule 1 threatened species. Goshawks on the east side of the Coast Range (interior BC) are not considered at risk.

Without appropriate management actions Northern Goshawks and forestry operations can conflict. It’s important to understand the breeding chronology and habitat requirements for this bird in order to establish an appropriate management plan.

The Basics: What is a Northern Goshawk?

Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) are one of three species of Accipiter hawks recognized in North America. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the Northern Goshawk as “the bigger, fiercer, wilder relative of the Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks.”

The Northern Goshawk is a medium-sized, robust forest-dwelling raptor about the size of a raven (length: 56–61 cm; wingspan: 98-115 cm) with short, broad wings and a long rudder-like tail well adapted for maneuvering and flying through forests in pursuit of prey.

You can distinguish an adult Northern Goshawk from both Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned hawks by their larger size and their greyish colouration compared to the rusty-brown colouration of the other two birds.

Where do Northern Goshawks live?

Within Canada, 100% of the range of the Northern Goshawk laingi subspecies occurs within British Columbia. Range boundaries occur in the coastal rainforests of Haida Gwaii, Vancouver Island, other British Columbia coastal islands and the coastal mainland west of the Coast Mountains.

Northern Goshawks are sub-canopy dwellers in closed-canopy coniferous or mixed forests with mature (45+ years) forest structure.

For the most part, Northern Goshawks are non-migratory. Males primarily remain on or near their nest territories year-round, while females tend to make short-distance movements to mostly lower elevations in winter.

What does a Northern Goshawk laingi subspecies look like?

Descriptions of the Northern Goshawk laingi subspecies will differ depending on the age and sex of the birds. Northern Goshawks less than 3 years old are called immatures or juveniles, while birds older than 3 years are considered adults.

Northern Goshawk   Northern Goshawk

You can identify an adult Northern Goshawk by the bold white stripe above its red eyes. The white eyebrow stripe separates the black crown on top of the bird’s head from its blue-grey back.

Adult Northern Goshawks have white chests with dense grey barring that can appear light grey from a distance. Long, somewhat rounded, tails have bands of alternating grey and black. Northern Goshawks also have yellow legs and feet with black talons.

juvenile and adult Northern Goshawks

Northern Goshawks: juvenile (left) adult (right). Photo credit: Wikipedia

Male and females are similar in colour, shape and characteristics, but male Northern Goshawks are smaller than females

A juvenile Northern Goshawk laingi subspecies is recognizable by its faint white eyebrow stripe, dusky brown colour and buff-coloured chest with dark brown vertical streaks.

Please stand by for the next post in our 2-part series “Everything You Need to Know About Northern Goshawks” with detailed information to help you know how to:

  • identify nests on your property
  • understand breeding habitats

A big thanks to Molly Hudson, biologist with TimberWest, for her expertise in helping us put this information together.

7 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Browse Protection

deer browsing

Browsing deer. Harper Graham’s property, Read Island.

Deer browse is an ongoing problem for forest owners, tree planters, land managers and homeowners on the coast of British Columbia.

Recently, we’ve received a number of questions about how to best protect your seedlings from deer and ungulates browsing on your property.

Sure, we know a lot of things, but our knowledge of browse protection options is surprisingly limited so we called in some expert help.

Thanks to Timo Scheiber, Operations Manager, Brinkman & Associates Reforestation Ltd. who answered our questions and gave us his educated opinion.

Timo is reluctant to call himself a subject matter expert, but because he’s worked for Brinkman’s for over 25 years and they’ve planted an impressive 1 billion+ trees around the planet, we’re happy to call Timo an expert and grateful to have him share his experience.

It’s important to remember, there are no hard and fast rules. What works in one area often has more to do with local conditions and ungulate populations than the particular type of protection used. That being said, some strategies do tend to work better than others.

1. What are the merits and drawbacks of the most commonly used browse protection products?

planted seedlings

Browse protectors on fir trees planted on Warren Cook’s property near Bowser on Vancouver Island.

White plastic tubes or cones are a popular option (i.e. Tubex, Sinocast, Growcone, Ventex). They’re usually about 3 or 4 feet high and 4 to 6 inches wide with holes for ventilation. The tubes or cones are installed using a single wooden stake (usually red or yellow cedar 48-60 inches high) and attached with ‘zap straps’.

“Pros” include:

  • Considered quite effective in preventing deer browse on red cedar
  • Often re-usable for 2 or 3 times
  • Robust product—can keep brush and snow from pressing on seedlings
  • In some conditions, greenhouse effect improves growth
  • An established supplier means they’re readily available

“Cons” include:

  • Relatively expensive —typically $1.80-$2.50 per unit, plus stake ($.50-.75) plus installation (~$1.50-$2.50)
  • Not always effective against elk (known to target and rip up the cones)
  • Need to be removed — expensive and time consuming
  • Weeds and vines inside the cones can impact growth, and may require work to clear or maintain
  • Wind resistance — cones can easily blow or fall over if not installed securely and cause damage to the tree
  • Cones are bulky so it’s expensive to ship large quantities

Plastic mesh protection is another option. Usually about 3 to 4 feet high and 4 to 5 inches wide, the plastic mesh is installed with metal pins (1/8” steel rod with a hook at the top) or a wooden stake.

“Pros” include:

  • Less expensive than solid tubes, both to purchase and install
  • May not need removal — often bio or photo degrade so they’re safe to leave on trees
  • Typically effective in protecting fir trees against deer browse (e.g. southern Gulf Islands)

“Cons” include:

  • Supply is harder to source locally
  • If metal pins are used, they need to be removed or they can grow into the tree
  • Not typically effective against severe browse pressure or elk
  • Not as effective on western redcedar (more lateral growth, less controlled leader growth)
  • Lateral growth can grow out of the mesh and get browsed or damaged

Metal mesh cages are also used. Typically 4 feet high and 8 to 12 inches wide, the cages are often made out of fencing, or 2×2” mesh stucco wire, and installed using wooden stakes (one sometimes two).

“Pros” include:

  • You can make them at home
  • The metal cages have a long service life
  • Effective against elk in some situations
  • Can be recycled

“Cons” include:

  • High cost — typically built by hand out of mesh rolls
  • The metal cages are heavy—difficult to install and transport
  • Requires secure installation
  • Laterals can grow out of the mesh and get browsed
  • Cages must be removed — expensive and time consuming

2. In your experience, would you recommend one product over another?

For small projects, I generally recommend solid tubes or cones such as ‘Tubex’ or ‘Sinocast’. These seem to work most of the time. Mesh protectors can also be effective at protecting fir seedlings against deer, but not all the time—trial and error is your best bet.

Metal cages, or timed planting (later in the season) combined with hiding the trees, can be an effective strategy to protect your trees from browsing elk.

It’s worth remembering: browse protection is expensive. Often, the relatively small cost of successive replanting is a more cost-effective option in the long run.

However, if you’re trying to get a small component of cedar growing in a brushy site (where cedar typically grows) installing cones is a pretty good bet—and a treatment commonly applied all over Vancouver Island.

Like most things in life, some problems have no easy answers. Broadcast protection of fir or cedar in a browse intensive area (e.g. deer winter habitat or a small island with lots of deer and no predators!) is a challenge. In these situations, experimentation is encouraged.

3. When is the best time to put browse protectors on?

The most cost effective, and safest, time to install browse protectors is when you plant your trees. For whatever reason, freshly planted trees seem to attract deer. On certain sites, we see deer following planters, eating the fresh trees as they go (typically western redcedar). Even a delay of 1 or 2 days can invite disaster!

4. How do you know when it’s safe to take your protectors off?

The most common time to remove protectors is when the trees have outgrown the container. You’ll know when this happens because your trees will be above the height of browse (typically 4 feet). This might involve more than one treatment because not all trees will grow at the same pace.

Often, land managers will wait until most of the trees are out of the protectors and then remove them all at once. Removing protectors when they can still be pulled up past any laterals makes it much easier. Once the laterals grow out the top, the protectors need to be cut off which can slow the process down significantly.

Another option is to remove the protectors earlier when the site is over grown enough to provide an alternative food source and reduce browse pressure. Of course, it’s hard to know for sure when browse pressure has been reduced enough to make removing the protectors a safe bet.

It’s also important to remember that browse protection isn’t always an install and leave process. Protectors can often benefit from maintenance (e.g. remove brush or weeds, right leaders that grow out side holes, or re-install a stake or support that’s fallen over in the wind).

5. Can you recycle or re-use browse protectors? Is there anywhere to buy second hand ones?

If removed properly, some types (usually solid cones or tubes that don’t photo degrade) can be used 2 or 3 times. Typically, this requires ‘refurbishment’, which involves installing new zap straps and bundling for storage and transportation, but is still less expensive then purchasing new protectors.

It’s common for companies to stockpile browse protectors for re-use. B.C. Timber Sales, as well as some of the major licensees, can be a good source of used browse protectors.

6. Should you always use browse protectors?

There are no hard and fast rules for browse protection.

In some areas, cedar is the only tree you need to worry about protecting. In other areas, everything, including spruce, will get eaten if you leave the trees unprotected. On the southern Gulf Islands, fir seems to get heavy browse pressure.

Basically, like most animals deer have a sliding scale for food preference, but, in the end, everything is on the table if they’re hungry enough.

Browse pressure can also change between seasons or from year to year. Factors like harvesting, development, predation and shifts in population are constantly changing and will impact browsing.

Many areas experience heavier browse pressure in the winter and early spring because less food options are available. For that reason, some regions (e.g. Campbell River north to Sayward) delay their early plant until later in the season to avoid offering deer the only viable vegetation on the menu.

7. Are there alternatives to physical browse protectors?

Repellents — One alternative is to coat your trees with a blood-based product to repel deer. These products can be effective, but you’ll need to apply successive treatments because the products wear off in the rain.

Hide your trees — Another idea is to hide your trees in the slash. Keeping trees out of the open and off any obvious trails has proven effective in some areas.

Select browse resistant species — Planting pine or spruce, particularly for open sites in winter range areas, can help minimize browsing. Often land managers will do a combination of hiding cedar in the slash, and planting the more open areas with pine, spruce or fir. Spruce is very browse resistant, but rarely an option on southern Vancouver Island.

If you’re interested in some light reading on the subject, this article is about terpene levels in red and yellow cedar relative to browse pressure—looking at why some trees are eaten and others are not. Some landowners are having success planting “browse resistant” western redcedar that have been selected for high terpene levels (a.k.a. taste bad to deer).

If you can’t get enough information about protecting your trees from browsing ungulates, here are two related studies produced by the provincial government:

Seedling Barrier Protection from Deer and Elk Browse (1996)

Evaluation of Deer Browse Barrier Products to Minimize Mortality and Growth Loss to Western Redcedar (2000)

A robust and hearty PFLA thanks to Timo Scheiber for his time, effort and expertise in helping us put this information together.

Water Management Tips for Forest Owners

Heavy rains and strong winds are usual weather events in British Columbia this time of year. If you’re a forest owner with streams on your property, minimising negative impacts to water quality and fish and wildlife habitat are crucial forest stewardship objectives.

PFLA is committed to helping forest owners protect BC’s abundant streams, rivers, lakes and watercourse, not to mention investments you’ve made in your access structures.

Below is a reminder of some of PFLA’s best management practices for managing the seasonal influx of water onto your property.

Road management IS water management.

A well-planned and constructed roadway will minimize potential problems, but a regular maintenance program is needed to ensure the long-term stability of a road system. In most cases you’ll be able to carry out an effective road maintenance program with hand tools, some gravel and a truck.

Regular inspections should be carried out, with additional checks after heavy rains.

New roads and roads with heavy traffic should get special attention—a little shovel work early in the season can prevent larger problems later on. Potential trouble areas, such as wet spots, culverts and steep grades should be noted.

After storms or heavy rainfall, branches, leaves and debris can block ditches, culverts and crossing structures. Once it’s safe, drive or walk along your roads and trails. Check to make sure:

  • Ditches are functional
  • Culverts are unobstructed
  • Cross ditches are intact and operational

Maintenance inspections — Check all drainage structures and remove debris from ditches and culverts. Watch ditches for flooding or signs of bank erosion that may signal the need for more, or larger, culverts. Check inlets and outlets of culverts for scouring.

Road grading — Carried out as needed to maintain road shape and surface, depending on the size of operations and frequency of use. Ruts and potholes should be filled in before spring rains. Spur roads not needed all the time, can be put to ‘bed’ by digging short drainage ditches (water bars) across them to control winter and spring runoffs.

Water bars — Constructed by excavator, grader, or hand tools, water bars are an effective means of directing road run-off away from the running surface of the road and into drainage structures or filter strips.

The key is to minimise opportunities for water to concentrate and gain momentum. Think about and find ways to disperse water—get it away from where it might interact with passing equipment, trucks, and vehicles, or come into contact with erodible materials.

A slightly cambered road running surface is also a very effective means to ensure that water is dispersed in small, slow moving quantities rather than being allowed to form rivulets on the road surface.

Grader berms — A berm is a wall or mound of dirt that keeps rainwater within a defined area. Left entire they direct water and separate road run off from ditch water for long distances. With carefully positioned breaks (gaps) they can be used to collect water from certain spots and deposit water in others. With no grader berms, road run off is less likely to concentrate and gain velocity, and will leave the road wherever the slope permits.

Cut banks can be vegetated to combat erosion. Fast-establishing vegetation, particularly clovers and grasses, are probably the most effective and economical tool for stabilising fine sediment sources.

There are several commercial seed mixes available for varying roadside conditions (e.g., sunny, shady, wet or dry). If possible, carry grass seed and hand tools in your machines and vehicles and seed disturbed areas when conditions are favourable for good germination.

A wise landowner once said, “Carry a shovel and fix small problems before they become major problems.”

Scaling, Grading and Timber Marking Tips for Forest Owners

Timbermark hammers

Timber mark hammers. Photo credit: Wellington Foundry

Welcome to the final post in our harvesting planning series.

In the first and second post we looked at some important steps to consider in the initial planning stages of your harvesting activities. The third post provided an overview of the steps involved in the logging phase of harvesting.

This fourth and final post outlines some important information about the scaling, grading and timber marking phase of harvesting.

What is Scaling?

Scaling is the term used to describe the measurement of the volume and grade of all timber and forest products harvested.

In British Columbia, all timber cut from private and Crown lands must be scaled and marked.

Scaling requirements for small woodlands can vary depending on regional or individual circumstances, as well as the volumes and types of products involved.

The district manager of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is the scaling authority. The best way to determine the requirements for your property is to contact the district manager or scaling staff of your local forest district.

In some cases, minor volumes (less than 3000 cubic meters) may be exempted from scaling, and instead, the woodland operator may be required to submit a monthly statement to the district office summarizing the volume cut.

The best idea is to check with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations before you harvest.

How Is Scaling Done?

Scaling is carried out by independent scaling firms or licensed individuals authorized by the district manager.

The Forest Act and Regulations set the standards and procedures for scaling, and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations carries out monthly checks of all scalers and establishes the conditions under which scaling is done.

Piece Scaling

In British Columbia, piece scaling uses the BC Cubic Metric Scale to measure the firm-wood content of a log.

The calculation is done by measuring the length of the log and its top and butt diameters (inside bark). The gross volume is measured and calculated using a detailed formula.

Licensed scalers use a scaling stick, which is marked with volumes enabling the scaler to calculate log volumes as cylinders, based on measurements of the length and radius of the log.

The scaling regulations and procedures are set out in the Provincial Scaling Manual.

Weight Scaling

Weight scaling is another form of log scaling in British Columbia.

Weight scaling is a quick and convenient way to measure wood quantity, but what you gain in efficiency you loose in accuracy. In other words, weight scaling is slightly less accurate than volume scaling.

Weight scaling is well suited to homogeneous log profiles and pulp logs and is commonly used by mills in the interior at the point of delivery. As a rough guideline, a standard highway logging truck (maximum 2.6 metre bunk) holds approximately 30 cubic metres of wood.

How Are Logs Graded?

Scaling can provide you with a measure of the volume of wood logged from a stand, but you’ll also want to know the value of the wood removed.

The value of logs is determined through a process called grading. Grading assigns value according to the species, size and condition of logs.

On the coast, all logs are graded when scaled, and are bought or sold by grade category for each species. Interior mills also grade logs by species and size and there are different grade rules for coast and interior scaling.

Both the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and the Council of Forest Industries prepare monthly, quarterly and annual summaries of log sales by grade.

Many factors affect the grade of a log: growth rate, the form or shape of the log, the presence and size of knots, rot or insect damage, and the size of the log.

A set of scaling rules sets out, by species, the characteristics of logs in each of the grade categories. For each category there is a ‘grade rule’ that describes the characteristics of logs and a specific listing of the log requirements to make the grade.

Because grade is associated with the presence, or absence, of criteria and the actual size of the log (length and top diameter), it’s possible to modify the grade of any given log by bucking it into separate log segments before delivery to the place of scaling.

Whether you plan to buck the logs yourself or sell the stand to a contractor it’s important to know about log grades to make sure you get the best value from your logs.

What’s A Timber Mark?

Timber marks, like cattle brands, are registered symbols that indicate where a log comes from, who holds the mark, whether or not the timber may be exported in log form, and whether the wood will be charged stumpage or royalty fees.

Registered timber marks are required for all timber cut from Crown and private land, and are issued upon application and payment to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

After an application is approved, the operator will receive a timber mark certificate with an assigned timber mark. You then contact a local foundry to make the hammer with the mark.

Timber marks are hammered into each end of a log.

Woodlot licencees are usually marked with the letter ‘W,’ followed by four numbers and a letter that identifies the licensee.

As always, thanks to the Non-forester’s Guide to Small-scale Forestry in British Columbia for the information excerpted above. We’ve condensed the information from their chapter on harvesting trees. You can find the complete online resource here.