By Andrew Kurjata
B.C.’s chief forester says she recognizes the economic desire to harvest wood damaged in 2017’s record-setting wildfire, but warns the long-term health of ecosystems must trump short-term commercial gains. Fire-damaged wood is only commercially viable for two to three years, and both local governments and private companies have been calling for a salvage plan after more than 1.2 million hectares of forest burned last year, most of it in the province’s Cariboo region. Chief forester Diane Nicholls said the amount of timber burned or damaged is “substantially greater” than the annual allowable cut in many areas and that it is “unlikely” all of it can be salvage logged. In a 26-page guide released last week, Nicholls said it is important to recognize the role forests — even burned ones — play in supporting the long-term health of ecosystems and wildlife habitat.