You may remember last spring CBPP and NSLFFPA held a number of information sessions around the concept of ‘wood yards’. The concept was to open a number of small wood yards where we could buy / aggregate (collect) high value hardwood logs. The hope was that this would provide economic opportunities for contractors and woodlot owners on Cape Breton that aren’t currently available, and, ultimately, lead to a healthier and more diversified forest industry on Cape Breton.
Since that time we have spent a lot of time talking to woodlot owners and industry people, visiting wood yards in other jurisdictions and closely examining the economic viability of the project. Based on that work the project has changed focus, but the ultimate goals have remained the same.
We are pleased to let everyone know that we have received funding from both ACOA and the NS Department of Natural Resources for the project. The project, which is beginning immediately and will run for one year, is designed to provide contractor and woodlot owner education on hardwood opportunities and also allow CBPP to open market opportunities for high value hardwood products. It is our belief that this initial project is the first step towards a healthy, diversified and sustainable hardwood industry on Cape Breton.
Through the project, Peter Christiano (formerly of Finewood Flooring) will be available to all woodlot owners and contractors on Cape Breton at no charge as a resource around forest management and market opportunities for hardwood logs. Peter has a wealth of experience and has always been a strong advocate of the potential for hardwood on Cape Breton, and we are very excited to have his assistance on this project.
Darryl Byers will be available to CBPP members and contractors to provide specific operational and grading assistance. Darryl will also be available at no charge to members to ‘tree mark’ hardwood areas they are thinking of having selectively harvested, and to provide a detailed estimate of what hardwood products and value are on a woodlot. (Tree marking is the process of flagging the trees to be removed in a stand. This allows the woodlot owner to see exactly what will be removed, makes the harvesting of the area easier for the contractor, and helps ensure that the harvesting work is done in an ecologically appropriate manner.)
A third and important part of the education component of the project will be a series of workshops held around Cape Breton this winter. The workshops, with the assistance on FPInnovations, will provide both ‘in-forest’ and ‘in-yard’ education opportunities. Woodlot owners and contractors will be able to learn about log grading, bucking, operational practices and market opportunities.
CBPP will be purchasing, aggregating (collecting) in a central yard, and then selling high value hardwood logs. Obviously the economics of gathering small volumes of logs is very difficult. Fortunately, Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) has been very supportive of the project and is making a couple very important logistical contributions to the project.
Firstly, PHP has agreed to let us use a small portion of their yard in Port Hawkesbury. This is very important because all of the necessary infrastructure is already in place there, and it receives the vast majority of logging trucks pass through here. PHP has also agreed to let us send small volumes of hardwood logs on top of pulpwood loads already destined to Port Hawkesbury. This will significantly reduce the cost of aggregating the logs, and should make the project financially viable.
Final details are yet to be worked out, but in general, the process should look like this:
· CBPP is developing a ‘price and specification list’. This will be a list of the products we purchase, what the specifications will be, and the price we will pay. The price will be the highest sale price we can achieve minus the cost of transportation and handling. We expect to have a product sheet by December.
· Woodlot owners and contractors who have wood they want to sell need to inform CBPP and get a valid job number. Logs will need to be marked with this number and then delivered to the nearest landing where pulpwood is being transported to PHP from.
· For woodlot owners that do not have the ability to transport the logs themselves CBPP can move the logs to the nearest active landing with a small trailer.
· CBPP will scale the logs and arrange for immediate payment.
· Once enough logs have been accumulated in Port Hawkesbury CBPP will arrange for transportation to the appropriate destination. This may be local mills such as BA Fraser or Group Savoie, or more distant markets in Maine.
We are very excited about this project, and think it is a very important first step. Ultimately we hope that if there is enough interest, and we can demonstrate there is enough of the products flowing elsewhere, we can attract value added hardwood industry to Cape Breton. It is unfortunate that most of the highest value products will need to be transported off of Cape Breton for processing. However, we see this is a necessary first step toward our ultimate goal of a vibrant value-adding industry on Cape Breton.
If you would like to learn more about the project, or would like to discuss the potential for your woodlot or operation with Peter or Darryl, please contact us.