New report claims whole logs used for B.C. wood pellet production

A new report claims a growing portion of B.C. forests is being harvested for the production of wood pellets.

The report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) points to Japan as a major importer of Canadian wood pellets, which it says are used as fuel.

The report alleges that instead of scrap wood, pellet producers are increasingly turning to raw logs.

Click to play video: 'Conservationists question wood pellet totals'

Conservationists question wood pellet totals

“The reality is that tens of thousands of trees every year, taken from primary forests, are getting turned directly into wood pellets,” said Ben Parfitt, an analyst with the CCPA.

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Parfitt has spent years researching the province’s pellet industry and said his new report raises serious concerns about B.C. trees being used as overseas powerplant fuel.

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“I went to many pellet operations, I saw the walls of logs that were awaiting conversion directly into wood pellets and I saw some of the forest lands where those logs were originating from,” he told Global News.

The report concludes that in the last 10 years, pellet exports to Japan have risen from just under 62,000 tonnes to nearly 1.7 million tonnes.

“Three-quarters of everything that was exported from our province last year by way of wood pellets went to one country, and that country was Japan,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Unions and environmentalists call for suspension of new wood pellet mills'

Unions and environmentalists call for suspension of new wood pellet mills

The B.C. government has faced similar accusations for years, and the province’s Forests Minister maintains pellets are mostly made from scrap wood such as sawmill shavings.

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“Let’s be clear, forests are not being turned into pellets,” Bruce Ralston said.

“Whole logs are much more valuable as whole logs and being turned into lumber in sawmills than they are being turned into pellets. The price difference is huge.”

The company that operates most of B.C.’s pellet mills also denies the allegations.

Parfitt, however, believes there simply isn’t enough scrap wood to satisfy the huge export market for pellets.

“Turning wood from precious, irreplaceable, primary forest into a product to be burned is not an acceptable use of our wood fibre,” he said.

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