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B.C. firm to log submerged Panama timber

B.C.-based Coast Eco Timber has been given the go-ahead from Panama's environmental authorty to log 15,000 hectares of timber submerged in a lake over the next 15 years.

January 3, 2013  By  John Tenpenny

Panama’s National Environmental Authority, ANAM, handed Coast Eco Timber owner Alana Husby a welcome Christmas present on Dec. 20. It was the go-ahead for her wholly owned firm to spend 15 years logging 15,000 hectares’ worth of timber that was submerged in 1976 when a hydroelectric scheme created Lake Bayano. Along with the approval came the prospect of a happy new year to the tune of $15 million in revenue, and perhaps three times that by 2015.

According to The Vancouver Sun, Husby, 37, actually began harvesting and milling logs up to four metres in diameter from the lake a year ago under a joint venture with the Kuna de Madugandi indigenous people. Eighty local folk presently work for Coast Eco Timber, which has retrieved older logs from 1,000 hectares of another Panamanian lake, Gatun, since 2010. That body of water inundated another hardwood forest when it was created during the construction of the Panama Canal, which opened in 1914.

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. Of the latter, she said: “One false step gets your ass handed to you.”

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