The Grove wildfire in the early 1960’s burned a significant portion of what is now called the Willow River Demonstration Forest, located east of Prince George BC. Currently 55-hectares of the 500-hectares demonstration forest in undergoing a process called “commercial thinning.” A process seen in other jurisdictions but rarely, if ever, seen in British Columbia, where clear cutting is the preferred method. Mike Trepanier, the manager of the demonstration forest explains that “Commercial thinning is an intermediate harvest or a stand-tending harvest that happens at the mid-point of a forest’s life cycle, from plantation to harvest. So, say, about Year 50.” Trepanier goes onto say that, “Typically, smaller trees, less vigorous trees are removed, and they’re used as forest products. You may get some saw logs, but you will get bioenergy and pulp log and that sort of thing coming out it. Meanwhile, you are leaving the best trees more space, light, more room, more light, more nutrients to grow into bigger trees, faster.”
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Commercial thinning a forest practicing option