The Resource

The Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area (TSA) is the second largest in British Columbia and covers an area of almost 9.9 million hectares in the northeastern corner of the province, within the Northern Interior Forest Region. The TSA is located entirely in the Boreal forest with mixed wood stands (coniferous ~40% and deciduous ~60%) predominant throughout the timber profile. The forest resource in the TSA has largely avoided the issues associated with the Mountain Pine Beetle and fire which have adversely affected other TSA’s in the province and is in good health and full of opportunity. 

A Brief History

Historically, the region has had a very active forest industry with sectoral employment making up a high percentage of total regional economic activity prior to the global economic downturn in 2008. In the early 1970's, Sikanni Forest Products had a rough-cut sawmill established just outside of the town of Fort Nelson. Between the late 1970's and 1990's Tackama Forest Products opened a sawmill and plywood plant and Fort Nelson Forest Industries opened a sawmill. The 1990's saw Slocan Forest Products purchase the Tackama Forest Products Mills and Fort Nelson Forest Industries, which eventually became the property of Canfor Corporation with their purchase of Slocan in 2003.

Meanwhile, the Fort Nelson Forest Industries site was transformed into an OSB plant in 1995. From 1990-95 Fort Nelson also had a chopstick mill which operated using deciduous species. Similar to what took place elsewhere in the province, market conditions led to the closure of the sawmill in 2005. The OSB plant in June 2008, and the plywood mill in October 2008 were shuttered, Fort Nelson having been honoured as the “Forest Capital of BC” in 2006. Since that time there has been little commercial activity of note in the TSA and the resource has gone relatively unused.

The Future

The community remains committed to working with the province to see the vast available resource allocated in a way that will generate local economic benefits. NRRM’s Regional Council has a stated goal to recruit and support investment in forestry offering a sustainable, long-term prospect for local processing. The Northern Rockies’ vision is one of a sector based on value-added manufacturing, with a diversified, complementary cluster of producers making the best and highest use of the available fibre. This, we believe will provide resilience and afford the greatest economic benefit for the region.

Recent Developments

The current Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) was established by the Chief Forester's decision in 2020 and saw the AAC increased by approximately 60% from ~1.63 million m3 to ~2.58 million m3 per year. This came at a time when the fibre supply in the province was dwindling and AAC'c in other TSA's were being reduced.

In 2021, Canfor sold its physical assets in Fort Nelson including the PolarBoard Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and its other co-located milling facilities to Peak Renewables in partnership with Fort Nelson First Nation. Peak is proceeding toward a Final Investment Decision (FID) on operating a biomass wood pellet plant at the location. A Provincial announcement on August 18, 2021, approving the transfer of the forest tenure from Canfor to Peak was a significant step forward toward a FID. A positive investment decision would create a significant upswing in forestry activity in the region both on its own and through the associated opportunities it would make available.

Fort Nelson Community Forest Partnership

One notable step in the pursuit of the rejuvenation of the industry locally has been the securing of a Community Forest license, jointly held by the Regional Municipality and Fort Nelson First Nation. At an AAC of ~215,000 m3, the Fort Nelson Community Forest is the largest in BC and gives the Partners a degree of influence over the development of the industry in the region, while ensuring the opportunity for local operators to secure fibre.

Background Resources

The NRRM has spared no effort in pursuing the re-establishment of forestry in the region. One of the outcomes of this pursuit is a significant body of detailed research attesting to the quality, economic value, and potential for use of the forest resource. We believe that a review of our Reports and Studies will pique investor interest and give a reason to contact us to explore specific opportunities.