Dead Wood

When it was created Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world.  Today it hardly makes the top-30 list of man-made lakes.  But when the Panamanian rain forest was flooded to create the lake, submerged in the lake were thousands of trees, some of them trees of rare hardwoods that are now protected species in Panama and elsewhere.  In Gatun Lake and other lakes there are thousands of feet of valuable, usable hardwood still underwater.  Now these rare woods are being harvested, floated to the surface, and being used. Ardan International is one group that is working with the indigenous Kuna people to harvest these beautiful and still usable trees from under the water.

Now another British Columbia logging firm has received the green light from Panama’s environmental authority to log 15,000 hectares over next 15 years removing timber that was submerged 1976 when a hydroelectric scheme created Lake Bayano. Alana Husby, 37, who owns the firm, began harvesting and milling logs a year ago in a joint venture with the Kuna people. Eighty people already work for Coast Eco Timber, which has been taking submerged logs from Gatun Lake.

According to an article in THE VANCOUVER SUN,


“‘The new concession contains “hundreds of millions of board feet,’ said Husby, who found the underwater style of timber cruising there different from what she knew. And she knew plenty. Late Husby Forest Products owner Dave Husby made sure of that by insisting his daughter find her professional feet not only via a BCIT forest resource technician diploma but by working on log booms and dry-land sort operations, then the mills, the grading crews, and the free-for-all of lumber trading . . .

“After ‘growing up watching all those loggers buy new machines, new pickups and then fail,’ she’s laid down $100,000 for a Taiwan-made multi-rip saw that executes six cuts simultaneously. She’s also about to lease from Caterpillar Mexico a 980-model front-end loader that would cost well over $500,000 new.

“‘It will de-water and dry-land-sort for me,’ she said of the machine that will feed a sawmill under construction on land she bought across the street from Coast Eco Timber’s present 25,000-board-feet-per day facility.

“Rather than seek an outside investor to fund the expansion demanded by “sitting on so much wood,” she’s contracted with the operator of a China-owned 50,000-board-feet-per day mill to furnish $2-million-worth of logs quarterly.”  Read entire story

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