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Economic analysis of recovering solid wood products from western hemlock pulp logs Mortyn, Joel William


The purpose of this research was to quantify what value could be gained from cutting solid wood products from old-growth western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla (Raf.) Sarg.) logs that are used to produce pulp in British Columbia. These logs represent a significant portion of the resource and increasing their value recovery would be beneficial to the forest industry. One hundred and sixteen logs were sampled from the coastal and interior regions of British Columbia. Dimension and quality attributes were measured to enable estimates of gross and merchantable volume. Logs deemed likely to yield lumber were sawn with the aim of maximizing value recovery. The nominal dimension and grade of all lumber recovered was recorded. Margins and breakpoints at which sawing became profitable were calculated. Models to predict the volume of lumber and proportion of Clear grade lumber recovered (“C Industrial” grade at the interior mill, “D Select” grade at the coastal mill) were developed. Lumber recovery, especially Clear grade lumber, was significantly higher from logs from the coastal site. At current market prices, cutting lumber from these logs was profitable, with the highest margins achieved when chips were produced from the milling residue. It was not profitable to recover lumber from the interior logs regardless of whether chips were produced. The disparity between locations was attributed to differences between the logs, the sawmilling equipment, the sawyers’ motivations and the lumber grades. Between 60% and 67% of coastal logs and 13% to 21% of interior logs returned a profit, depending on whether chips were produced. Models were developed to better identify these logs using observable attributes. A linear model described the total volume of lumber recovered. Significant predictor variables in the model were the gross log volume, the average width of the sound collar and the stage of butt/heart rot at the large end. A second model predicted the proportion of Clear grade lumber. Regional models were developed to account for different Clear lumber grades between sawmills. Significant predictor variables were knot frequency, diameter at the large end, volume, length, taper and the width of the sound collar at the large end.

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