Highlights from the 2011 Private Forestry Forum

Another success! PFLA organizers were delighted by the turnout and participation at the 2011 Private Forestry Forum.

Held June 16th, 2011, at the Prestige Conference Centre in beautiful Sooke, BC, a series of engaging presentations sparked interesting debates, encouraged thoughtful questions, and provided an opportunity to connect with forest landowners (large and small, coastal and interior); government representatives; industry experts; communication specialists; and international presenters.

For those of you who missed it, here are some of the highlights:

Tom Niemann, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations: Wood Market Update & Outlook presentation.

Highlight: Amazingly detailed, colourful and comprehensive graphs and charts depicting the forest sector’s business cycle over the past 10 years.

Key point: This is not a regular business cycle – both the product mix and the markets have changed. Tom advises policy makers, foresters, and landowners to think creatively about adjusting product mixes to match market demands.

Matt Walsh, New Zealand Carbon Farming: International developments in forest carbon trading.

Highlight: An international demand for carbon credits (created by voters and consumers pressuring governments and corporations to off-set negative environmental impacts) means “sinking” a forest, and selling carbon credits rather than logs, may prove as, if not more, lucrative.

Key point: International examples from New Zealand and California indicate the carbon credit industry is developing quickly. By 2012, we’ll see open trading in carbon credits in order for companies to meet their Kyoto Protocols. The Darkwoods carbon pilot project (June 2011) marks the first carbon sink deal in BC  (Using the Trees to Save the Forest).

Mike Brooks: Detailed scan of B.C.’s political landscape.

Highlight: Continued political uncertainty puts two of PFLA’s key issues – maintaining policy distinction for private managed forestlands and positive change on log export policy – at risk.

Key point: There’s hope. We’re harvesting well under the average allowable cut, each year, in this province. This is a new concept for citizens. Undercutting public lands reframes the debate about log exports in a new light. It’s important to find a way to communicate this new message to the public.

Laura Coward, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, spoke briefly about recent shifts in government ministries. Laura reaffirmed the government’s commitment to work with the PFLA to ensure that government remains alert to the perspective of private managed forest owners.

Ron Davis, Private Managed Forest Land Council also provided a brief update on the council’s activities over the past year.

Did we miss anything? Want to know more? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Regulating Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) in BC

The BC provincial government is in the process of regulating off-road vehicles (ORVs). Vera Vukelich gave a detailed presentation of the ORV Management Framework at the PFLA’s 2011 Private Forestry Forum.

Under the ORV Management Framework, vehicle registration is mandatory for ORVs operated on crown land: this applies to current and new owners, and includes safety regulations. A compliance and enforcement strategy is in the works, and the implementation process is expected to take about 2 years – this gives ICBC the time necessary to upgrade their systems.

In her presentation, Vera Vukelich was sincerely sensitive to the unique position of private forest landowners. The province is prepared to include or exclude private managed forestlands, from the legislation, based on input from the PFLA. One way or the other, ORV legislation will affect private forest landowners.

The question before the PFLA is how to respond? This is an opportunity for managed forest owners to influence policy development. The best course of action is for the PFLA to respond to government by the end of August with a solid PFLA position – a clear statement on whether we welcome the regulation of ORVs on private managed forestlands, or whether we oppose it. What do you think?

Next Stop on the PFLA Field Tour: Van Isle Tree Farm

Our second stop on the PFLA 2011 forest field tour: Van Isle Tree Farm where we were graciously received by the Robertson family.

With over 110 hectares of forestland, there was a lot to see.

An impressive diversity of species: copper beech planted in 1996, giant sequoia planted in 1997, redwoods, oak, arbutus, and tales of eucalyptus (over 25 varieties) attempted, but in the end, lost to father winter.


Strolling through the forest, there was plenty of time to glean knowledge as the Robertsons shared stories of land management and reforestation. Spirited conversations emerged about wild life, paint ball, burning, harvesting, firewood, trespassing, and of course, the deer – what to do about the deer?

Wrapping up this leg of the tour, Ken Robertson was presented with an award for outstanding commitment to, and demonstration of, private forest stewardship in British Columbia.

Along with a plaque, the PFLA was pleased to present Mr. Robertson with the only meaningful gift to give a guy who has over 100 hectares of land, an excavator and a passion for planting trees – 45 gallons of diesel and some hydraulic fluid.

Congratulations Ken!

Thanks again to the Robertsons – Ken, his wife Dorothy, and their two sons, Blair and Warren – for your hospitality.

Check out this video of Ken Robertson doing what he loves best: