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Bulletin of the Natural History Society of B.C. Our timber wealth and its conservation Sutton, William J. 1910

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Natural History Society of B. C.
Our Timber Wealth and Its

Read before the Society, Victoria,
January 10th,  1910  Our Timber Wealth and its Conservation
:       By WILLIAM J. SUTTON, F.G.S.
JANUARY 10th. 1910
The purpose of this paper, as the title indicates, is to
present a general survey of the forest trees of the Province of
British Columbia and call attention to the vital questions of
conservation and reforestation.
The following are the principal forest trees of commercial
value, indigenous to the Province, in approximately the order
of their relative importance:
Douglas Fir
Western Red Cedar liP
Western Hemlock
Menzies Spruce B
Engelmann Spruce
Western Yellow Pine
Lodgepole or Black Pine
Western Larch or Tamarack
Balsam or Amabilis Fir
Black Cottonwood
Aspen Poplar
Grand or White Fir
Western White Pine
Yellow Cedar
White Spruce
Broadleaf Maple
Red Alder
Garry Oak.
THE DOUGLAS FIR (Pseudotsuga taxifolia)
This is the most important forest tree in British Columbia,
and which, strange as it may appear, is the native home of this
remarkable tree.  It is only indigenous to the northwestern
	 I mmgmmmmm
portion of North America, and peculiarly a Pacific coast production.
At first, it was classified as a fir, but later investigators
have given it the special generic name of false hemlock; as its
scientific name now designates.
The wood in its properties, is a sort of cross between pine
and hemlock. It is well adapted for construction purposes,
and owing to its large size and dense growth over a considerable portion of the Province, is regarded as of the greatest
commercial importance.
Its maximum growth under the most favorable circumstances is about 15 feet in diameter and 300 feet in height.
The largest saw-log ever converted into lumber, to my
knowledge, was one cut at the Chemainus saw-mill—it was
slightly over 12 feet in diameter. The humid Pacific coast region
is the most favorable for its best growth, where it ordinarily
reaches from four to five feet in diameter and about 180 feet in
height, with massive trunks, straight and clear of branches
for upwards of 100 feet. It thus forms an ideal forest for the
woodsman, who revels amongst these magnificent specimens
of tree growth. It is important to note that it only reaches its
best growth over a comparatively limited area, where the conditions are most favorable. It has a strong tendency to grow
scrubby in exposed places, becoming greatly stunted on high
mountainous regions; sometimes being a( mere shrub less than
10 feet in height.
Douglas fir is a rapid grower, especially for the- first 100
years. It is long-lived, reaching maturity at about 600 years.
Trees three feet in diameter are about 150 years old, and those
five feet in diameter from 250 to 300 years old. The rapidity
of growth greatly depends upon soil conditions.
It thrives under a great variety of conditions, both as to
soil, moisture and temperature. We have .it growing on the
humid coast, and also in the drier interior of the Province. It
reaches its best growth upon loamy well drained soil with
abundance of moisture, but not excessive. Where the soil is
too wet it is subject to ground rot, and where exposed to the
mmtu ^
wind is-subject to gum-shake defects. The west coast of Vancouver Island and the northwest coast of the mainland are
too wet for it.
It is the prevailing, tree over about one-half the area of
Vancouver Island. It is especially notable in the east coast
districts of Cowichan, Chemainus, Nanaimo, Comox, Say-
ward, and in Alberni district. Its habitat extends from Sooke
on the south end of the island to about Nimpkish river in the
north and extending into the interior over most of the easterly
drainage area. It is not found on the west coast of the island
close to the Pacific border, but on the upper reaches of some of
the Sounds it has a foothold.
The first appearance of Douglas fir on Barkley Sound is
upon the upper end of. Copper Island. As you pass up the
Sound, it becomes more and more abundant, and when you
reach Alberni, it is the dominant tree; exemplifying, very
strikingly, the influence of the ocean upon tree growth.
On the upper portions of Nootka and Kyuquot Sounds,
there is considerable Douglas fir, again denoting the effect of
the sea upon the climate, and thus upon plant life.
On Clayoquot S'ound one may occasionally see a lonely fir
tree perched upon a dry bare rock, evidently trying to find a
dry spot.    Under such conditions, the wood is unusually soft.
The Douglas fir grows upon the coast islands and the
mainland from the 49th parallel to a point about opposite the
north end of Vancouver Island.
Around the shores of Burrard's Inlet, in days that have
gone by, it formed, along with Red cedar, a wealth of forest
growth that was wonderful to behold. But those giants of the
forest have gone for ever, to make way for the city of Vancouver. There are still a few old veterans in Stanley Park,
and around the suburbs of Vancouver there are many large
stumps to remind us of those great monarchs of the past.
The Douglas tree is also an important tree over a considerable portion of the interior of British Columbia, being locally
abundant upon elevated slopes where there is a fair amount of
moisture; but only reaches moderate dimensions.
— It is not sensitive to cold; but shrinks away from the very
dry valleys of the interior plateau, where the western yellow
pine generally abounds.
It is a prolific seeder, but with rather low vitality, and in
many sections of the Province is being replaced by hemlock
and black pine—to which I purpose referring in connection
with reforestation.
Douglas fir occurs occasionally in such dense stands, that
an acre may yield in the neighborhood of 300,000 feet of merchantable timber.
I may mention two of these remarkable localities where
the forest is still standing; namely, on Robertson river which
flows into Cowichan lake, and around Roberts lake, Sayward
These extraordinarily choice spots give no criterion upon
which to make an estimate of the average yield. 1g
The fairly well timbered areas of Douglas fir yield an
average of about 50,000 feet per acre.
WESTERN   RED  CEDAR   (Thuja plicata)
This is the large cedar of the coast region, reaching a
maximum of about 20 feet in diameter. I have measured
several around 50 feet in circumference four feet from the
ground, although, of course, these are exceptionally large, and
are invariably heart-rotten and hoary with age.
The best timber runs about four to six feet in diameter,
and about 120 feet in height.
This cedar, like the Douglas fir, is specially indigenous
to the north-west portion of North America, and reaches its
maximum size and best development in the extra humid
regions of the Pacific slope.
It will stand an immense amount of atmospheric moisture,
but does not favor very soggy ground for its roots. It thrives
best where limestone is the underlying country rock. I have
seen immense trees growing on bare limestone with the roots
ramifying the fissures. The wood is of great commercial value, on account of its
lightness and durability under all sorts of exposure.
It is not uncommon to find a tree five feet in diameter
growing over a fallen cedar which is still only sap-rotten,
although lying on the ground for two or three centuries.
The Red cedar is an extremely long-lived tree. Trees
three feet in diameter are about 200 years old, and the largest
trees take about 1,000 years to reach maturity, and may remain
standing in a state of decadence for several hundred years
more.   Woodman, spare that tree!
The Red cedar grows all over the Pacific coast region of
British Columbia. It is to be found scattered amongst the
Douglas fir forest, seeking out the wetter spots. It also covers
those areas of the country too wet for the Douglas fir. It is
the dominant tree on the west and northern coast of Vancouver
Island—I may specially mention, Barkley, Clayoquot and
Quatsino Sounds.
It extends over the islands and northwest'coast of the
mainland to the northern boundary of British Columbia.
It is the prevailing tree on the Queen Charlotte Islands.
A large quantity of fine cedar at one time grew on the
shores of Burrard's Inlet and Howe Sound, but is now almost
depleted.' |p|
Narrow belts of Red cedar occur along river valleys in the
interior of British Columbia, such as on the Columbia, Kootenay and North Thompson rivers, but it only reaches a moderate size and is inclined to be hollow-butted and knotty.
Red cedar has a strong tendency to become scrubby
where the conditions are not favorable. The old trees make
the best merchantable lumber. It is a prolific seeder, and
takes root readily on moist ground; but not so well over
ground covered by forest fires.
WESTERN   HEMLOCK   (Tsuga  heterophylla)
Hemlock is the most universal of any forest tree in British
Columbia. Almost everywhere it occurs as a subordinate in
association with Douglas fir and Red cedar, and forms im- 6
portant groves with Amabilis fir and Menzies spruce over the
humid area of the Pacific slope.
The Western hemlock is an important forest tree both for
lumber and tanbark. Its commercial value has only of late
years been appreciated. Owing to a prejudice, founded upon
the inferior quality of its -eastern namesake, it has been greatly
Vertical grained flooring of hemlock is even superior to
the Douglas fir. The tanbark is also superior to the eastern
Hemlock is a slow grower, but reaches occasionally as
large as eight feet in diameter; usually from three to four feet
in diameter, with height of about 150 feet. Trees two feet in
diameter are about 200 years old, and the largest trees are
seven or eight hundred years old.
It is not very particular as regards the quality of soil,
thriving on poor soils so long as there is sufficient humidity.
It grows best where there is abundant rainfall upon a fairly
well-drained moist soil; moisture being one of its most essential requirements. Where it grows on exposed ground, the
butt log will often sink in salt water, and will be very tough
and gnarly.
Hemlock grows generally as a subordinate tree all over
Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, and on the
mainland coast to Alaska.
Along the east coast of Vancouver Island hemlock is a
common tree in the Douglas fir forest; and on account of its
smaller size, is commonly used for making skid roads and
landings by the loggers; formerly all hemlock was left in the
W& woods to be later destroyed by fire; but the larger trees are
now being taken out by the logger.
On the west coast of Vancouver Island hemlock occurs in
abundance associated with Red cedar, Amabilis fir, and
Menzies spruce.
Hemlock occurs sparingly over scattered areas on the
mountain slopes and more humid parts of the southern interior
of British Columbia. 1
It is a strong reproducer where conditions are at all favorable, especially over moist ground,, not overrun by fire. It
endures shade in the dense forest wonderfully well, and is
holding its own in the struggle for existence amongst the tree
life of the coast. It is rapidly growing in importance as a
commercial wood.
MENZIES OR SITKA SPRUCE  (Picea si-tchen'sis)
Also called tideland spruce on account of its frequent
occurrence on the tidal flats of most of our rivers. It is frequently a very large handsome tree, reaching, when fully
grown in favorable localities, 15 feet in diameter and 250 feet
high; but usually four to six feet in diameter.
It is a strikingly round tree, and in dense stands carries
its size wonderfully well with trunk clear of branches, for upwards of 100 feet.
This spruce is a very light soft" wood, and very useful for
certain purposes, such as boxes, boat lumber and shelving,
and especially valuable for pulp. On the northern coast of
B. C. it is used almost entirely for building purposes. It grows
to a great age, the largest trees being about 700 years old. It
grows rapidly for the first 100 years, and reaches four feet in
diameter in about 300 years.
It has a strong tendency to develop large low limbs in
open stands, thus rendering it unsuitable for the lumberman.
Very often along the water front, the exposed side will have
immense limbs, while the other side may be clear.
Menzies spruce is confined to the Pacific slope region of
great humidity. It is to be found all over Vancouver Island in
limited areas, along the banks and deltas of rivers, but most
plentifully on the west and northern coast of the Island. It
flourishes best and is the most abundant on higher ground in
northern latitudes of the coast region. It is plentiful on the
Queen Charlotte Islands, especially around Masset Inlet.
It thrives best upon sandy river bottom land, slightly
elevated, and a short distance from the water's edge, with the mm*
heavy rainfall and fog prevalent on the west coast of Vancouver Island and northern coast of B. C. It is the principal tree
on the Alaskan archipelago.
ENGELMANN  SPRUCE   (Picea engelmanni)
This is an important forest tree over parts of the interior
of British Columbia, but is unknown in the coast region. It is
a semi-Alpine tree, growing on elevated mountain slopes
where there is sufTicient moisture. Where it grows in dense
stands, it forms a clean straight trunk, and reaches a maximum
size of about four feet in diameter, and 120 feet in height.
Usually about 30 inches in diameter is considered good timber.
It is a very useful timber in many of the mining sections
of the Province. It covers many of the mountain slopes in the
central plateau region, and extends from the 49th parallel as
far north as Babine and McLeod lakes in northern B. C. It is
long-lived and very tenacious of life. Trees two feet in diameter
are likely to be about 300 years old. On exposed mountain
tops, where the struggle for existence is intense, a tree six
inches in diameter may be 200 years old.
WESTERN YELLOW PINE  (Pinus ponderosa)
This pine is confined to the dry interior plateau region of
British Columbia. In contrast with all the trees previously
described, this tree does not grow on damp ground, but thrives
best in the dry arid valleys where the rainfall is light. It
grows to a large tree in favorable localities, reaching as large
as six feet in diameter occasionally. Usually about three feet in
diameter with abundance of limbs and forming park-like
groves. The wood is inclined to be resinous and cmly of
moderate commercial value, and useful mainly for local purposes. It occurs over all the dry lower valleys of the southern
interior of B. C, i.e., around Princeton, Nicola, Stump Lake,
Kamloops, Clinton, etc. It is a useful tree for forming wind-
brakes, in the dry prairie country, as it will grow on any soil
and thrive under the most adverse conditions. It grows to a
good old age, reaching about 500 years.
m: 1
Western yellow pine is abundant in the dry belt of the
United States east of the coast mountains.
LODGEPOLE  OR  BLACK  PINE  (Pinus contorta)
This tree is the most accommodating and persistent of any
of our forest trees. It is not at all exacting as to moisture or
temperature or altitude. Once it has established a foothold it
will thrive under all manner of conditions. Unfortunately, it
has only a small commercial value. It rarely grows above two
feet in diameter and 60 feet in height, and is usually only about
one foot in diameter. As a rule it is only fit for mine timber
and firewood, and is very resinous.
Black pine occurs in scattered areas all over the Province,
more particularly upon sandy ground, and is most abundant
over the middle and northern sections of Central British
Columbia. It is gaining a foothold in many places where it
is not desirable, through its strong seeding qualities, especially
upon burnt over ground.
In the open, it will bear fertile seed cones, when only five
to six years of age.
Black pine is a useful tree in the barren sections of the
country, as it will thrive where hardly anything else will grow.
In contrast with Red cedar, it has an aversion to limestone.
Its age limit is about 200 years—a tree one foot in diameter is
about 80 years of age.
WESTERN   LARCH  OR TAMARACK  (Larix occidentalis)
This tree does not occur on the coast. It is fairly abundant at a moderate elevation over the interior of British
It is a slim tall tree with small branches, and rarely grows
any larger than two feet in diameter. It is an ideal tree for
poles and railway ties, for which it is principally used—also for
mine timbering.
It is to be found in the far north, being not averse to a
cold climate. It requires a fair amount of moisture and favors
damp, cool, northern slopes.      It thrives on almost any soil
I—^^—: ^um SlfMfflPifM
under these conditions.    It occurs in, the Okanagan,  Slocan
and Kootenay districts, and as far north as the Yukon.
Western larch grows rapidly in height, but slow in
diameter, and takes about 250 years to mature. Trees 12 inches
in diameter are about 100 years old. Seeds well over burnt
areas, and often disputes the ground with Black pine.
.   BALSAM OR AMABILIS FIR (Abies amabilis)
Also called "Silver" and "White" Fir
This tree is not very well known, although there is a
considerable quantity of it on the coast. It grows to a maximum size of about five feet in diameter, but is usually about
three feet in diameter.
In dense stands, it forms a clean straight tree, free of
branches for 100 feet or more. The wood is somewhat similar
to spruce in general character and is suitable for boxes, pulp,
etc.   As yet it has not come into commercial use.
Amabilis fir requires about the same conditions as to
climate and soil as Western hemlock, with which it is invariably associated. It is abundant on the west coast and northern portions of Vancouver Island.
The following special localities may be noted: Barkley
Sound, Clayoquot S'ound and north of Salmon river. It also
occurs along the coast range of the mainland, and on the
Queen Charlotte Islands.   It is moderately long-lived.
Trees three feet in diameter are about 150 years old, and
probable age limit about 300 years. Its seed is sought after
by the squirrel, and is their principal food where it abounds.
BLACK COTTONWOOD (Populus trichocarpa)
Cottonwood is the largest of the poplars, growing to a
maximum of about six feet in diameter. Usually from two to
four feet in diameter and about 80 feet in height. It is not in
great demand at the present time, but is destined to become
an important soft wood for special purposes. It is now being
used for the manufacture of staves for sugar barrels, excelsior,
etc.    It is one of the best woods we have for mechanically - •
made pulp. It is a very thirsty tree, and grows with its roots
almost in water. It is confined to the river bottom lands,
especially along the banks of all the large rivers, such as the
Fraser, Skeena, Naas and Stickeen. It is especially abundant
in the valley of the Skeena river. Cottonwood is not averse to
a cold climate, but must have sufficient moisture. It occurs
sparingly in the interior of British Columbia along river bottoms and margins of some of the lakes. A few scattered trees
occur on the banks of almost every stream in the Province.
Cottonwood is not a long-lived tree. It grows very rapidly.
Trees three feet in diameter are about ioo years old, and it
reaches maturity in about 200 years. It seeds very readily,
where there is any moist sand to grow upon.
ASPEN   (Populus tremuloides)
This tree is very abundant in the northern interior of
British Columbia. It rarely grows over a foot in diameter,
and is usually six to ten inches in diameter. It is a good wood
for making the better classes of paper pulp. A short-lived tree,
reaching only about 50 years of age—trees eight inches in
diameter are about 30 years old.
GRAND  OR WHITE  FIR  (Abies grandis)
This fir reaches sometimes a diameter of six feet and 250
feet in height. Usually about four feet in diameter. It occurs
along the coast, on the banks of most of the streams, especially
on tidal flats. The wood is inclined to be rather soggy and
knotty. It is generally a subordinate tree and does not cover
any extensive area; and may be considered only of moderate
commercial value.
WESTERN   WHITE  PINE   (Pinus  monticola)
This is the finest pine tree that grows in British Columbia,
but unfortunately does not cover any large area. It occurs
very sparingly over most of Vancouver Island, and a few
scattered groves have been noted on the mainland. It forms
a beautiful straight, tall, round tree, free of limbs in the dense
^^g£i^^tjg^^^r^j^^^^^^&2&i^Biii^^^Miisi£ii£«^^^^^^^^^^^^ »T   ■
forest. It closely approaches the eastern white pine (Pinus
strobus) in character, and is a tree of high commercial value.
Its maximum growth is about five feet in diameter, but its
usual size is about three feet in diameter. It is not exacting in
regard to soil or climatic requirements. It will grow well on
sandy or gravelly soil, with a fair amount of humidity. It
reaches a fair old age—trees three feet in diameter are about
200 years old. It reproduces itself rather poorly, and should
receive the forester's care and attention.
YELLOW CEDAR (Chamgecyparis nootkatensis)
The wood of the Yellow cedar possesses many good
qualities, and is more valuable commercially than perhaps any
other timber that grows in the Province. It has a beautiful
sulphur-yellow color, is fine grained, is easily worked, takes a
high polish, and is firm, strong and durable.
On account of its defective growth, and scattered occurrence, it is usually only taken out by the logger in conjunction
with other timber.
I have seen trees as large as six feet in diameter, but it is
commonly two to three feet in diameter, and about 80 feet in
Yellow cedar is often found as a mere shrub on rocky
mountain tops.
It requires plenty of atmospheric humidity; but is not
exacting as to soil requirements. It seeks elevation over the
southern portion of Vancouver Island, where it does not occur
under an altitude of 500 feet, but comes down to the sea level
on the northern portion of the Island, where it reaches its best
development. |||
It occurs sparingly over the northwest coast, and on the
Queen Charlotte Islands, although there it is rather more
'abundant. It grows very slowly. A tree two feet in diameter
will be about 300 years old, and its maximum age may possibly
reach 1,000 years. On account of the supply of Yellow cedar
being limited, its usefulness must be confined to special
purposes. 13
WHITE  SPRUCE   (Picea  canadensis)
The White spruce is an important commercial tree over
the northern interior of British Columbia, where it makes the
best lumber and timber available in those cold northern
regions. It forms a fairly well-grown tree from two to three
feet in diameter where the conditions are favorable. It grows
on river banks and on low moist areas. It is abundant in the
Yukon river valley.   It does not occur on the coast.
MAPLE  (Acer macrophyllum)
This is the only large maple tree on the coast. It is one of
the most valuable hard-woods found in the Province. Under
the most favorable conditions, it reaches five feet in diameter
and 120 feet in height; but is usually about two feet in
It grows along the banks and bottom lands of most of the
streams, on the island and west coast of the mainland, and is
usually associated with Cedar, Spruce, Grand Fir, Alder and
Although a valuable wood, it must not be considered as
of any special importance on account of its very limited extent.
It thrives best on rich bottom lands, with considerable moisture. It is a fairly rapid grower—trees 12 inches in diameter
are about 50 years old, and two feet in diameter about 100
years of age.
RED ALDER  (Alnus rubra)
This alder grows to a fairly large tree, occasionally reaching three feet in diameter, but usually about a foot in diameter.
It is the finest wood we possess for making charcoal, especially
charcoal for gunpowder.
It has a certain value for cabinet work, and makes very
good firewood. Like the maple, it grows on the rich bottom
and wet bench lands. It is frequently found in small patches
on springy side-hills. Alder is a rapid grower, reaching eight
inches in diameter in 25 years.
J 14
At the head waters of the Kokisilah river, I found a six-
inch alder growing in the centre of a log shanty that I had
slept in 25 years previously.
GARRY OAK (Quercus garryana)
This is the only species of oak in the Province. It is
almost entirely indigenous to Vancouver Island. A few odd
trees have been noted on the mainland. It is abundant in the
immediate neighborhood of Victoria. It forms a few park-like
groves on Saanich peninsula and in Cowichan and Comox districts ; also a few trees at Quatsino and on the Gulf islands.
It grows on dry, well-drained table lands, frequently rocky.
It is a very slow growing tree, reaching occasionally four feet
in diameter, with short trunk and broad spreading crown. Age
limit is probably about 500 years. It is not sufficiently abundant to be of much commercial importance, although on account
of its valuable properties should receive the forester's attention.
I have thus briefly sketched the character and occurrence
of all our forest trees of special commercial importance. There
are quite a number, of limited occurrence, which may be regarded more in the light of scientific interest, although having
a certain value for special purposes, namely: Arbutus, Birch,
several Willows, Black Spruce, Dogwood, White Bark Pine,
Mountain Hemlock, Alpine Fir, Alpine Larch, Yew, Vine
Maple, Cherry, Crab-apple, Balm of Giliad, Juniper, Ash,
Elderberry and Bearberry, and possibly several others.
It will now be in order to take a summary view of the
relative extent of the forest lands of the whole Province. Some
writers have, in glowing terms, dwelt upon the vast and unlimited extent of our forest wealth, so that the general public
have,* I think, erroneous impressions regarding our timbei
It is high time that we should look the actual facts full in
the face, and not be carried away by inflated notions.
I beg to state that the timber resources of British Columbia are comparatively limited.    In comparison with the vast 15
extent of the Province, the relative percentage of wooded lands
of commercial value is strikingly small.
As an approximate estimate of the total possible yield of
merchantable timber for the whole of the Province, including
Vancouver and the coast islands, I venture to state, that at the
present time, it is under 400 billion feet, and probably does not
exceed 300 billion feet.
When we take into consideration the annual destruction
by fire, the large percentage of scrubby timber, and the quantity growing in inaccessible localities, we shall find that the
actual yield, as a commercial asset, will be greatly below what
is generally supposed.,
Vancouver Island is very well clothed with forest trees,
but the great interior of British Columbia contains millions
of acres, which are practically treeless.
The great saw mills at Vancouver have to depend to a large
extent upon Vancouver Island for most of their timber. The
mainland coast-line from Burrard's Inlet to the Portland Canal,
is geologically a great granitic batholith, presenting with its
bare, precipitous mountain sides, very little surface suitable
for tree growth. S'o that, notwithstanding the extensive shoreline, the possible yield of timber will be very small indeed.
I have seen some very mis-leading statements regarding
the possible yield of timber on the Queen Charlotte Islands.
The islands are well clothed with forest trees (comprising
Red Cedar, Spruce, Hemlock and Yellow Cedar), but a considerable percentage is scrubby—which also applies to the
whole coast line.
The great north land of British Columbia is very sparsely
timbered, even in the valleys the timber is small and only fit
for local purposes. So that the extent of our merchantable
timber is confined to a very limited area in comparison to the
total acreage of the Province.
In such a land of plenty, it is difficult for the average
layman to realize that there is anything of a serious character,
in the appeals for conservation which have lately received so
much attention. 16
Earnest efforts are being made all over the world to try
and check the present wilful waste of natural resources.
During the past fifty years, the consumption and destruction of the natural products of mother earth has been greater
than during all the centuries preceding. An aspect of our
development and civilization which is fast becoming not only
serious, but alarming, when we consider the well-being of the
generations to follow us. During the year 1909, the consumption of coal in North America amounted to about 450 million
tons. The consumption of petroleum, nearly 200 million barrels. The consumption of timber, including destruction, over
100 billion feet.
It is now a well known fact that the world's supply of
timber is becoming far too inadequate to meet the present day
demands upon it, and that a timber famine is near at hand.
British Columbia has a very valuable inheritance in her
forest wealtji, and it behooves us to take more thought for the
morrow, and exercise more care and foresight in the management of her timber domain* than has been in evidence in the
In this connection, it is interesting to glance over the
history of past legislation upon the timber question in this
The "Land Act" has been altered from time to time,
giving more and more freedom to the timber speculator, until
the last stampede, when the situation became so objectionable,
that the Government very wisely decided to withdraw all the
remaining timber land from the market.
The wide-open license system, whereby anyone could with
a small expenditure, secure the tenure to a large area of virgin
forest, fanned the speculative fervor, and brought an abundance of cash into the Provincial treasury.
The method may simply be described in a word, "frenzied
finance," or discounting our timber assets at the speculator's
bank, by a small payment down with future delivery. In the
end, the poor consumer must pay the piper. 17
There has been issued 15,164 timber licences covering an
area of about ten million acres.
I think it is regrettable that such a large proportion of
the timber wealth of the Province should have been thus
Under the present time-limited licence, the licence holder
is a mere tenant, and by the very nature of his tenure has no
special interest in conservation; he only desires to skim off the
best timber when the opportunity is presented, and then return
the despoiled remnant to the Government.
The question of extending the time limit of timber licences
has been ably discussed before the "Board of Forestry Commissioners." It appears to be the consensus of opinion that
the only rational solution of the situation, "as we find it today,"
is to make the timber licence perpetual with the necessary
safeguards in the interest of the country.
A more stringent supervision over logging methods is
In the past, the logger has been allowed free latitude to go
into the forest and act like a bull in a china shop. He has
frequently picked out a few choice trees in a choice^belt of
timber, and made a sort of bonfire of the whole country around
him. It is often appalling to see the desolate country the
logger has left behind him.
I have not time to fully cover the fire question. I may
briefly note that fire not only destroys the timber, but in many
cases ruins and destroys the soil also. This is especially noticeable where fire has swept over the more elevated regions, with
a slight covering of soil. On many hills the forest tree has
gained a foothold by a slow process of preparation which has
taken centuries to mature.
Fire cleans off everything to the bare rock again, and the
process has to commence de novo.
This applies with special force to the conditions on many
of our uplands, and we have already some of our evergreen
hills converted into bare, parched, rocky elevations, desolate
and forbidding.   I have in mind several localities, namely: the mmmmmmm**-*
mountain range on the south side of the Nanaimo lakes has
been completely destroyed by fire, leaving nothing but a few
blackened stubs as sentinels of the destruction that has taken
place—both timber and soil gone.
On the mainland coast opposite Texada island, the country
has been logged over and fire has followed with its deadly
work. Here it has burnt off everything down to the gravel
subsoil, and left a dry, gravelly, dreary waste for several miles,
where nothing will grow until nature has had time to re-
British Columbia has been very dilatory in the matter of
establishing forest reserves.
Extensive reserves should be placed over the gathering
grounds or water sheds of our larger streams and the forest
covering held inviolate for all time. These reserves to also
serve as asylums for game.
The imperative necessity of creating forest reserves has
been a burning question for governments all over the world,
and in many cases large areas have been bought back again
to be created into reserves.
France has had a notable experience in this respect; also
the United States, as in the Adirondacks.
It is now well recognized that a forest covering not only
greatly lessens evaporation, but also increases the rainfall and
checks the rapid descent of water from the higher levels. It
is especially important in a hilly country like Vancouver
Island, that these upland forests should be preserved against
the inroads of the axe and fire. Generally, the timber is not
commercially valuable, as the best timber is usually below the
2,000 foot altitude.
I understand that the Dominion Government has estab-
We. lished forest reserves in the railway belt on the mainland, but I
am not aware of any forest reserves yet created by the Provincial Government.
A Provincial bureau of forestry is urgently needed, to
supervise all matters relating to our forests. 1
There is a great field, for investigation and work—not only
for the scientific management of our forests, but to take active
steps towards reforestation.
British Columbia has a very large area of country which
is only fit for the growth of trees. We have thousands of
acres in the central plateau region now lying in a state of
barren waste, unproductive and desolate, which would if intelligently planted, produce a good harvest of timber.
Reforestation should not be left to haphazard seeding, as
usually our best timber is replaced by inferior trees.
The Douglas fir when destroyed, is almost everywhere
being replaced by small hemlock, cedar and black pine. In
the dry belt, aspen and birch take the place of the spruce and
the larch. Black or lodgepole pine (pinus contorta) is gaining
a strong foothold over many parts of Vancouver Island, on
burnt over ground, by virtue of its strong seeding properties,
and if it is not checked we shall, ere long, have our magnificent
Douglas fir replaced by a scrub pine of little commercial value.
The Western white pine is a very valuable indigenous
tree and thrives well upon Vancouver Island, but it requires
nursing and encouragement.
It is often crowded out in the fierce struggle for supremacy
by the more fertile and persistent seeding trees. Once it has a
foothold, it grows rapidly and holds its own, so that it is only
a matter of getting rooted before the other scrubby fellows
have pre-empted or got possession of the ground. This applies
with equal force to the Douglas fir. In some sections of the
upper country, on burnt over ground, it is interesting to note
the struggle for supremacy between black pine and larch.
Generally it is a matter of which gets the first start. If they
become seeded together, the larch is able to hold its own by
its more rapid upward growth.
It is time that nurseries were established for the culture
of our best forest trees, and active steps taken to scientifically
supervise all matters of this kind.
This can only be done by the establishment of a proper
bureau of forestrv.
J 20
There should be a government officer thoroughly trained
in all matters relating to forestry, and his department should
take up the study and investigation of such questions as the
The soil-requiring qualities of the different tree species?
What trees improve soil conditions?
What trees require rich soil?
Their relative moisture needs?
Their temperature requirements?
The effect of altitude on different trees?
The shade enduring qualities of trees?
The quality and properties of the different woods?
The rapidity of growth ?
The height and size at maturity?
What trees are exclusive?
What trees may be grouped together?
What trees require nursing?
Topographical conditions affecting tree growth?
The relative value for conrrnercial purposes ?
The general care of forests?
The collection and care of seeds?
The establishment and care of nurseries?
The pathology of trees?
In short, forest culture in all its branches, and the development of a thorough scientific system of forestry.
I think that forest culture will soon become almost as
important to the well being of our Province as that of agriculture.
That a school of forestry should be established at an early
That the public mind be educated to realize that the forest
is not a thing to be wantonly destroyed, but that it is one of
nature's best gifts to mankind. What would this world be
like if it were destitute of tree life?  


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