The Journey of a Log

Back to About Page

From forest to wood product and back again: A simplified view of planning, harvesting, manufacturing, and replanting.

ILMA Member companies harvest wood from their operating tenure or purchase wood from BC Timber Sales or other tenure holders. BC Timber Sales is a Ministry of Forests regulated market. Operating tenure refers to the agreements that allow the use of the timber supply area(s) of land they are licensed to harvest on. Licences can be either long or short term, depending on when they were acquired, the land use policy in the region, if it is a publicly or privately owned forest, and the certifications of the licensee.

Many mills buy the majority of their wood on the open market to meet their production demands, and ILMA members ensure they purchase from companies who share their standards for forest stewardship. ILMA Members care deeply about cultivating thriving, renewable forests that ensure a healthy environment and a sustainable wood supply.

Before a cut block is harvested, extensive work goes into consultation, planning, environmental assessment and other reviews. The process involved in planning a harvest site can take two or more years from when it begins to when the first tree is harvested.

Forest engineers survey the forest and map harvestable areas, conservation areas, watersheds, and roadways. Archaeologists look for remains of cultural heritage to preserve important historical information. Road builders create access to the harvest sites, and logging contractors cut the trees. Truck drivers haul the logs to the mill.

At the mill, a log scaler will measure the wood to calculate its value for payment of the stumpage fee to the government, which is the price that mills pay for wood. Stumpage varies depending on factors like the size of the harvest area, species, size, and projected forest revenue. The logs are manufactured into products, packaged and shipped to customers. Thanks to advances in technology and efficiency, very little if any waste is generated during the manufacturing process, with almost all by-products finding a valuable use.

The mill, working with forest management specialists or their own forestry department, then arranges to have harvested areas replanted with the appropriate trees to support the regrowth of a diverse, healthy forest. A few seedlings are planted for each tree harvested, and their growth stewarded. The mill is responsible for ensuring that the seedlings survive and thrive for a period of ten years.

When the trees are at a size ready for re-harvesting, the cycle begins again. Many ILMA companies are now harvesting an area for the second or even third time!

The sustainability of wood goes beyond well-managed renewable forests. Wood is energy efficient, strong, resilient, and biodegradable. ILMA Members make products for construction, finishing, furniture, instruments, and utilities. These products can be reused, recycled, used as a carbon neutral source of energy, and they biodegrade when no longer reusable.