Harvesting Burnt Stands with Mercer Forestry Services

In the forest industry, global warming and climate change are topics of concern as they directly impact the nature of the forests we work in. Globally, in all Mercer operating areas, we’ve experienced unseasonably warm temperatures, extreme drought conditions, and wildfires increasing in both number and severity. 

Mercer Forestry Services (MFS) has worked with the BC Wildfire Service to help fight wildfires by using logging equipment to build fire breaks and douse flames. After devastating fire seasons rush through British Columbia, some of our forests which were once lush and green are sometimes left lifeless and uninhabited. These natural disturbances can have a major effect on the environment, including the carbon balance. 

The impacts of wildfire risk on British Columbia’s forest stands are affecting the wood supply for many forest-based companies in the province. Depending on the severity of a wildfire, however, burnt trees within the stand are not wasted. Beneath the charcoal layer often hides quality timber which can still be used. Time is of the essence to harvest this timber, as the longer a tree sits after a forest fire, the less moisture it will contain. 

Therefore, MFS aims to harvest approved stands as soon as safely possible after it’s burnt so that we can salvage as much of the tree as we can. Many companies can come together after a wildfire to work on the safe harvest and reforestation of the area, bringing some positive results and economic benefits to what was once a frightening situation.

MFS harvesting burnt wood


Charred trees can pose additional risks and challenges that are managed throughout harvesting operations. It can sometimes be difficult to know the stability of a burnt tree, so MFS operators are extra cautious to avoid all potential overhead hazards. Additionally, charcoal dust that comes off the trees means we must clean our filters and machinery carefully, mitigating dust exposure.

Although wildfires can be destructive, it is a natural disturbance that has been reoccurring for thousands of years. It’s important to remember that the loss of forest is only temporary as the now-open forest canopy stimulates new growth. Through quick action and forestry experience, these areas affected by natural forces and harvesting can be replanted, regrown, and thrive once again.