Allowable cut drops 13 per cent Sustainable levels still not met British Columbia's Chief Forester has reduced the Annual Allowable Cut in the Soo Timber Supply Area by 13 per cent, but Forest Service officials and industry analysts admit the harvest level is still above the sustainable mark. On Jan. 1, 1996 the AAC for the Soo Timber Supply Area will be 506,000 cubic metres of timber, down 13 per cent from the present level of 580,000 cubic metres. Three years ago, the AAC in the Soo TSA was dropped 18 per cent — and more cuts are coming. "The long-run sustainable level for the (Soo) TSA would be 442,000 cubic metres," says Paul Kuster, district manager of the Squamish Forest District. "We're not down to a sustainable level yet, but the recommendation has been to take it down in stages." The Soo TSA includes 880,000 hectares of land stretching from Lions Bay to D'Arcy. It includes an Interfor-owned Tree Farm License and all of the Squamish Forest District. According to Kuster, the AAC cutback will result in the loss of around 70 logging jobs in the district and 150 jobs outside the TSA. Kuster says the job loss is felt heavier outside the TSA because only 13 per cent of the logs harvested in the district stay in the district. "Most of the wood from the Soo TSA goes outside the TSA to be refined," he says. In order to keep the job level sustainable Kuster says more wood harvested here has to stay here and the district has to move forward under the initiatives of Forest Renewal B.C., an NDP-created plan to keep forest industry workers working while harvest levels go down. So far the Squamish Forest District has received $1.6 million in grants for watershed restoration and $400,000 for intensive silviculture work. While the amount of harvestable timber goes down, workers in the forest industry are bracing for more cuts. According to Cheryle Bass of the Soo Coalition for Sustainable Forests, forest workers knew the AAC was going to be reduced by at least 13 per cent — now they are anxiously awaiting other government announcements that could further erode loggers' livelihoods. "If we end up with a sustainable harvest level the industry is willing to do that," says Bass. "What we can't stand for is waiting for announcements regarding protected areas and spotted owl management that is going to push more land out of the working forest." According to Bass, the Soo TSA AAC announcement of a 13 per cent cut is better news than in many other districts, because the review included some of the cuts necessary under the new Forest Practices Code. Although Premier Mike Harcourt and Forest Minister Andrew Petter have told British Columbians the working forest will not be reduced more than 6 per cent because of the Forest Practices Code, Bass is not so sure. "What's really frustrating is the continued erosion of the forest land base," she says, adding the industry is bracing for a further AAC reduction of 6 per cent because of biodiversity clauses in the Forest Practices Code, 10-15 per cent for visual quality and a further 7 per cent reduction for wildlife management. "This AAC reduction is only the tip of the iceberg," Bass says. Interfor holds the licence to cut in Tree Farm Licence 38 and is the biggest forest sector employer in the Squamish Forest District. Dave Miller of Interfor says he is unsure how many of 400-500 employees will be effected by the cutbacks, but tough times are ahead. Miller says the rapid loss of land from the working forest is a bigger threat to jobs than AAC reductions from the Chief Forester of B.C. Protected areas and proposed parks could play a large role in logging job loss in the future. "A lot of times you don't need to put a line around something to protect it," Miller says. "We should be managing our land so everybody in this province can have a piece of it. Single use limitations on land leads to elitism."