Workshops & Events

PFLA’s 2016 Forest Field Tour — June 1st in Campbell River

baby goshawk

Photo credit: Rory Hill

This year’s PFLA field tour covers ground in the Campbell River area and focuses on themes of wildlife habitat management, species of concern and water management.

We start bright and early with an 8:00 a.m. departure (sharp!) from Painter’s Lodge headed for the Oyster Main area of TimberWest Managed Forest 8.

We’ll visit a Northern Goshawk nest site and Vancouver Island Marmot designated wildlife area where we’ll discuss habitat requirement, best management practices and the Species at Risk Act.

After a presentation from SauvAir demonstrating the use of drone technology for silviculture surveys, we’ll head to the UBC Carbon Flux Research site to learn about a 25-year study on carbon sequester/release from second growth forests and discuss impacts and results of late rotation fertilization.

Next up? Lunch stop at the BC Hydro Info Centre where TimberWest biologists will discuss watershed management and the implications of recent changes to legislation.

All fueled up on sandwiches and juice boxes, we’ll head to the suspension bridge and surge towers where Steve Watson, communications lead for the 1.3 billion dollar John Hart Project, will discuss the project and water management.

We’ll head back to Painter’s Lodge and arrive by 4:00 p.m. (just enough time to freshen up before cocktails and snacks at 5:30 and dinner and awards at 6:30).

You can find complete schedule and registration information on the PFLA website.

Or contact us at with any questions.

2014 field tour

Tour stop at Walker Addison’s woodlot on Vancouver Island (June, 2013).

To whet your appetite, here are a few highlights from past events:

Sylvan Vale Nursery: From Seed to 8 Million Seedlings — A big PFLA thanks to Sylvan Vale Nursery for their hospitality (did we mention they fed us donuts?) and the informative tour of their nursery …[read more]

“What do you get when you mix engaging presenters, interesting locations, thoughtful participants and favourable weather conditions? Another fantastic field tour!”   … [read more]





Important PFLA Dates for 2016

save-the-date-sticky-noteWelcome to 2016! We hope you all had a smooth transition to the new year. Here at PFLA headquarters, we found enough time for rest and reflection to feel pumped, inspired and energized about the coming year.

Here’s a list of some key dates, events and priorities to keep in mind for 2016 — mark your calendars, polish your shoes, tell your friends!

PFLA’s 2016 AGM — June 1st and 2nd

Save the date! PFLA’s 21st annual field tour, conference and AGM is scheduled for June 1st and 2nd at Painter’s Lodge in Campbell River, BC.

Stay tuned for more scheduling and content details as plans unfold. We wanted to give you plenty of notice because we’re looking forward to another great event, and your participation is the key ingredient to make that happen. For now, mark your calendars and we’ll see you in June!

Refreshing the BMP Handbook & the PFLA Website

Two projects scheduled for 2016 include updating and modernizing the BMP handboook, as well as refreshing the PFLA website.

You can look forward to our request for input, feedback and suggestions on both these initiatives. Of course, if you can’t wait to hear from us, and you already have something to contribute, please feel free to get in touch sooner.

PFLA Hometown Tour — Spring 2016

We’re taking this show on the road again for our annual hometown tour. We’re still ironing out the details and hammering down some dates, but we anticipate firing up the PFLA tour bus (a.k.a Rod Bealing’s Volvo) in early to mid-March.

Please look for us in your inbox next month — we’ll send a proper invitation with all the information and details you need to know.

Onsite Meetings with PFLA Members

Over the past few months we’ve received requests for onsite meetings with members. For those of you who aren’t aware, onsite support is a service we offer our members. If you’re interested in some one-on-one time with the association, let us know and we’ll set up a time to visit your property in the coming year.

Relationship Building

We also look forward to building relationships and cultivating important connections with members of the new federal government. Along with this, we’ll continue to develop relationships with provincial elected officials, as well as municipal government representatives to help ensure people understand the significant contributions private forestry makes to BC’s economy and communities — the ins and outs of who we are and what we do.

Merry Christmas and Many Thanks from PFLA

merry-christmas-forest-550x320Dear Santa, I can explain … oops, that’s not the right holiday message.

Here it is. A seasonal shout-out of appreciation to all PFLA supporters—committed members, trusted allies and casual passers-bye—who showed an interest in PFLA over the past year.

Whether you clicked a link in our newsletter, commented on our blog, sent us an email, “liked” our Facebook page, retweeted a tweet, gave us a call, stopped by our trade show booth or shook hands with us at an event — we sure appreciate you taking the time.

After all, without your support and participation, Rod Bealing is just a lonely guy in a straw hat talking to himself at the Cowichan Exhibition.

Here’s a quiet moment, amongst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, to say a heartfelt thanks while we reflect on the year’s accomplishments and anticipate continued successes to come in the new year.

Among the highlights, in no particular order, PFLA:

  • Celebrated 20 years of responsible forest stewardship at the annual conference (we even have pics of the cake and cupcakes to prove it), along with well-deserved acknowledgement to Rod Bealing for 15 years of dedicated services as the heart and face of the association.
  • Took a trip to Ottawa where we continued to cultivate lasting and productive relationships with like-minded organizations and strategic partners across the country, thanks to CAFO.
  • Hopped aboard the tour bus for our annual hometown meetings, along with our annual Union of BC Municipalities reception where we took every opportunity to inform and educate elected local officials about the benefits and contributions of private forestry in British Columbia.

Phewf. Those are just a few of the activities and events we engineered and participated in over the past year. Thanks again for your interest and participation.

Best wishes for a magical holiday season.

We trust you’ll all look sharp in your favourite Christmas sweaters loitering under the mistletoe with a seasonal beverage in hand. At least, that’s where you’ll find us.

Big smiles, arm-pumping handshakes and seasonal hugs to all.

Forest Genetics Council recognized at Premier’s 2015 Awards

Forest Genetics CouncilCongratulations to the Forest Genetics Council for their nomination at the Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Awards ceremony held October 27, 2015 in Victoria.

The awards showcase and celebrate outstanding BC Public Service excellence.

Premier Christy Clarke attended the ceremony to personally recognize finalists from around the province for their professionalism, dedication and innovation in making a difference for BC.

The Forest Genetics Council of British Columbia (FGC) is a multi-stakeholder group that includes representatives from federal and provincial governments, the forest industry and universities.

The FGC’s goals are to enhance the value, resilience and conservation of BC’s forests.

The FGC’s primary outputs are fast-growing and pest-resistant tree seeds which help to boost BC’s timber supply and economy. Since the FGC’s inception, in 1998, over 1.7 billion improved seedlings have been planted in BC.

TimberWest is one of the over 30 partners involved in the Forest Genetic Council and TimberWest staff play important roles in the FGC. Bevin Wigmore, Tree Improvement Manager for TimberWest, sits on the FGC’s coastal technical advisory committee, and Domenico Iannidinardo, VP Sustainability and Chief Forester for TimberWest, is the coastal producers representative and director on the Forest Genetics Council.

TimberWest also operates the Mount Newton Seed Orchard in Saanichton. The seed orchard supplies TimberWest with improved seed for reforestation and makes a significant contribution to the sustainable forest management of the company’s forests.

The Mount Newton Seed Orchard is a unique facility that produces up to 90% of the seed used in reforestation on TimberWest lands.

While the orchard primarily focuses on Douglas Fir, they also produces Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock and Western White Pine seeds. Surplus seed is sold to other companies that don’t have the appropriate seed to meet their reforestation needs.

Tom Ethier, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations, nominated the FGC for the award in the category of ‘Organizational Excellence’ because, as Tom described, “BC’s tree improvement program is one of the best in the world and is at the leading edge of developing climate change adaptation strategies.”

Congratulations to everyone involved for their commitment and dedication to BC forests.

You can learn more about the FGC nomination by watching this short video.

To learn more about the Mount Newton Seed Orchard, check out TimberWest’s website.

Wine, Woodlots and Wanderings

PFLA was pleased to attend the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations’ 28th AGM and conference October 2 – 4, 2015 in West Kelowna. Hosted by the Boundary and Shuswap Okanagan Woodlot Assocations this year’s FBCWA event was an excellent opportunity to network with woodlot licensees and private forest owners from across British Columbia.

FBCWA 2015 AGM in Kelowna

The 3-day event included tours of the mill facilities at Gorman Brothers Lumber Ltd. and the Silver Lake Forestry Education Camp and Woodlot, as well as an education panel to discuss the role of woodlots in promoting forest education opportunities for youth.

A variety of specialist guest speakers were also invited to provide information on a range of interesting topics, from soil conservation to wildfire mitigation practices, species selection guidelines and climate change.

We’ve included some of the highlights from the presentations below.

Seed Transfer 2.0—Establishing Plantations for a New Normal

Greg O’Neill, a climate change adaption scientist from the Kalamalka Forestry Centre in Vernon, provided an insightful presentation asking important question about how climate change affects forest health, productivity and wood quality

Selecting the right seedlot for a site is one of the most important decisions a forester makes, particularly in an era of changing climates.

The presentation was an opportunity to discuss the challenges facing forest managers and policy makers and looked at the options available to mitigate the impacts of climate change on planted forests and the tools available to establish “climate smart” plantations.

Class “A” Western Larch Seed and Interim Seed Deployment Zones

Barry Jaquish, research scientist with the tree improvement branch of the Kalamalka Forestry Centre in Vernon, presented early results from 6-year-old western larch realized gain genetic tests in the Nelson seed planning zone. The tests compare performance of seed lots of different genetic origin at different spacing and site quality.

The benefits of using class “A” western larch seeds were discussed and the presentation also focused on recent changes to the western larch seed planning zones in British Columbia. Contemporary seed transfer guidelines permit deployment of western larch seed outside its natural distribution to account for climate change and to diversity the species composition and structure of future stands in the central Interior.

Two Decades of Soil Conservation Research—Lessons Learned

Chuck Bulmer, a soil scientist with the Thompson Okanagan region of the Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations ministry, provided an overview of the main results from two decades of soil conservation research as they affect the operators of small forestry holdings.

The presentation also included a discussion of the major soil-related management challenges affecting managers of small forestry holdings today, along with some soil-related opportunities to help guide improved outcomes now and in coming decades.

Westbank First Nation Fire Mitigation Project

Dave Gill, General Manager for the Westbank First Nations Forestry Program, toured participants around the Westbank First Nations (WFN) lands explaining how the WFN manages the forest / urban interface and wildfire mitigation on their forestry tenures.

In October 2014, the Westbank First Nation began a 10-hectare wildfire mitigation project in their community forest, in partnership with West Kelowna Fire Rescue, near Rose Valley and Bear Creek Road.

Crews plan to dispose of 1000 piles of debris collected as part of wildfire mitigation efforts. To date more than half of the piles have been disposed of through permitted, controlled burns.

The Importance of Young Workers in B.C.’s Silviculture Industry—Strategies to Attract, Engage and Retain New Employees

Chris Solic, owner of All-Stars Silviculture, is acutely aware of the importance of young workers to the silviculture industry. Chris’s presentation explained how stagnant wages and rising costs have forced a slow change to the demographic makeup of B.C.’s silviculture workforce. The biggest challenge for many of companies today is how to best appeal to the growing youth majority and how to manage efficiency losses.

Thanks to all the organizers, presenters and tour hosts for a fantastic conference and congratulations to Ernie Day, this year’s recipient of the Minister’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Woodlot Management.

You can learn more about the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations from their website.

It’s Official! Island Timberlands Helps Set New Tree Planting World Record

Guinness World Book certificate It’s official! Officially amazing according to the certificate handed out, late in September 2015, by the Guinness Book of World Records to announce the new world record for the most trees planted in one hour by small teams at multiple locations.

The official announcement marks the success of multiple tree planting events held May 20, 2015. Organized by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI), more than 200,000 trees were planted simultaneously in 28 communities across North America — from coast to coat, Qualicum Beach to New York City and a range of communities in between.

Excited by the opportunity to participate in the SFI initiative, Island Timberlands organized a tree planting event on Vancouver Island. People of all ages and backgrounds — professional tree planters, Alberni District Secondary students, community members, forestry companies and industry associations — gathered to participate in the world record attempt.

At 10:00 a.m. sharp, on Wednesday May 20, 2015, with shovels poised and seedlings in hand, the team joined more than 1,100 participants across four time zones to begin planting trees. By the time the hour was up, groups across North America had collectively planted 202,935 trees, in just one hour, to surpass the previous world record of 40,885 trees, set in April 2012.

Makenzie Leine, Manager, Community and Government Relations with Island Timberlands said, “Not only was teaming up with SFI to go for the world record an exciting endeavor, closely aligned with Island Timberlands’ and SFI’s sustainability goals, but it was also a great opportunity to share the importance of reforestation, teamwork and community spirit with local students.”

group photo of tree planting event with Island Timberlands

Group photo! Students, tree planters, community members and interested groups join Island Timberlands and the SFI initiative, May 20, 2015, to beat the world record for most trees planted in one hour by small teams at multiple locations.

A big congratulations to everyone who came out to make the event a success and the new world record a reality.

To learn more, you can check out an interview with Morgan Kennah, Sustainability Manager with Island Timberlands, on Global News.

Sylvan Vale Nursery: From Seed to 8 Million Seedlings

Sylvan Vale owners Iola Elder and Siriol Paquet

Twin sisters, Iola Elder and Siriol Paquet, are the second generation to own and manage Sylvan Vale Nursery.

Managed by owner Iola Elder and her twin sister Siriol Paquet, Sylvan Vale Nursery Ltd. is a multi-generational family affair. Their parents, Selwyn and Phyllis Jones, originally purchased the property in 1976 with a plan to farm sheep, but in 1980, when private nurseries came into being, they began to transition the property into a nursery.

In the early days, the original greenhouse was the garage attached to the house. Next, the sheep barn was converted into a greenhouse, and now, some 35 years later, the nursery has evolved to over 200,000 square feet of growing space with 44 free-standing greenhouses and 2 large gutter-connect greenhouses.

Siriol explains, “Iola and I began running the nursery on our own, in 1988, when our parents moved on to a different venture. Mom stayed on the farm and over the years has been an integral part of running the business. We owe a big thanks to both our parents.”

The sisters are working on the third generation of up and coming family members to help carry on the family business. Both Siriol and Iola have two children. After being raised on the farm, they left to go to school and now three out of the four children have returned to live, learn and work the family business.

Growing Trees in Black Creek’s Unique Microclimate

Sylvan Vale Nursery is located in Black Creek on Vancouver Island. The nursery has a custom growing program and produces both container and bareroot stock from seed or cuttings. They currently grow forest seedlings, Christmas tree seedlings, native plants, ornamentals, berry plants, grasses, plants for restoration, agroforestry, nursery liners, hedging and most anything else you ask them to.

Running a tree growing business in Black Creek is not without its challenges. The unique microclimate brings with it extreme weather patterns. It’s not uncommon for the area to get several feet of snow overnight, which can cause serious problems for the greenhouses.

Black Creek is also influenced by weather from Knight Inlet, funneling down from Oyster River, which can cause extreme cold temperatures. In the winter months, the temperature in Black Creek is often 4 degrees colder than Courtenay and in the summer months they’re usually 4 degrees hotter.

Being located in Black Creek, outside municipal water systems, means Sylvan Vale Nursery relies on catchment water. They have seven reservoirs and catch from one reservoir to the next. Because they recycle all their water they monitor their water system very closely and proudly maintain environmental farm status.

First stop: The Seed House

Sylvan Vale Nursery seed house

Siriol Paquet of Sylvan Vale Nursery describes the process for ordering and planting seeds to PFLA’s 2015 field tour participants.

PFLA was lucky enough to get a guided tour of Sylvan Vale Nursery as part of our annual conference field day back in June 2015. The tour included a visit to the seed house where Iola and Siriol explained the process for ordering and planting seeds.

First, the client — a forester, landowner, silviculturalist — asks the nursery to grow a certain number of trees for them. You can place orders any time, but the latest they’ll accept orders for the following spring planting is September or October.

It’s important to remember: when forest companies are busy, reforestation nurseries are busy too. The earlier you place an order the more certain you can be that the nursery will have room to grow your seedlings.

This year all the nurseries (including the interior) are full to capacity and then some. So orders needed to be placed early to reserve space.

Next, your seed has to be acquired. The nursery needs to get suitable seed for your property. Some seeds require a lengthy stratification; for example, white pine has a 3 to 4 month stratification period.

It’s best to start thinking about ordering seeds early.

You also need to think about what kind of seeds you want. If you’re a Crown woodlot, the nursery needs what they call select seed. Select seed comes from a seed orchard. If you’re not a Crown woodlot, you have the flexibility to choose a wild stand collection or what they call a ‘b’ class seed.

If you’re planting Douglas-fir on Vancouver Island, and it’s select seed for Crown land, you need a specific seed lot called seed zone “maritime 0 to 700 meters”.

Row upon row of blocks filled with seedlings in a greenhouse at Sylvan Vale Nursery.

Row upon row of blocks filled with seedlings in a greenhouse at Sylvan Vale Nursery.

The seed is stored at the Tree Seed Centre in Surrey. They track everything by seed lot at the seed centre and can tell you where it was collected, what the elevation was and who owns it.

If you have a private woodlot, and you have a specific tree you like, you can use that seed.

Seed is sometimes hard to purchase. It can be a challenge to find the best seed for your property, and then to find someone who has it for sale at a reasonable price. Another reason to start thinking about ordering seeds ahead of time.

This year Sylvan Vale Nursery will produce about 8 million seedlings. There is no minimum order. They are a contract grower and will grow whatever you like, but price is based on volume so the smaller the amount you need the greater the cost per unit.

Seeding Line Equipment: A Demonstration

George Shikaze, of Vancouver Bio-Machine Systems Ltd., was instrumental in helping mechanize sowing and lifting in the early days of nursery equipment.

Siriol explains, “We’re still using George’s machine. This seed line is a workhorse. It produces, on a bad day, about 1200 blocks. That’s with lots of different seed lots, or if we’re putting lots of seeds per cavity and they have to go slower. If it’s a seed lot that’s 200,000 and it’s a 412A we can sow about 4500 blocks per day.”

The nursery has a short window of time to sow everything for the coming planting season—usually about a month.

The first step in the process is to mix the soil recipe. Next, the soil gets conveyed into the block loader where the cavities are filled with soil. An electronic arm jiggles the soil and then it travels along to a machine feeder with a vacuum pump that drops a set desired amount of seeds per cavity.

The germination value will determine how many seeds per cavity. If the germination value is low, they’ll put between 4 and 6 seeds per cavity, but if it has a really good germination value they’ll put one or two seeds per cavity.

From there, the block runs along the conveyor belt and a layer of grit is placed on top of the seeds. The blocks then travel outside where they’re watered and transported to the greenhouse.

Next stop: The greenhouse

Sylvan Vale Nursery greenhouse

Talking greenhouses with Siriol Paquet at Sylvan Vale Nursery in Black Creek.

At Sylvan Vale Nursery they have two different style greenhouse—gutter-to-gutter and freestanding. The greenhouses are purposely separated by wide spaces to help facilitate snow removal.

The gutter-to-gutter greenhouses use hot water piped heat and the freestanding greenhouses use natural gas forced air heat—each creates a different growing environment.

In the freestanding greenhouses, the water, light and temperature levels are all controlled by Argus sensors. The sensors are programmed to determine how often the water comes on, what the temperature is and the sidewalls will automatically roll up or down depending on changes in temperature or moisture.

When we visited in June, the roofs were just being removed from the greenhouses so some greenhouses had plastic on them, and others didn’t. They take the roofs off because it gets hot, but also to encourage the development of wax and cutin on the roots so the trees are better conditioned when they go out to the field.

Each greenhouse holds about 1530 blocks (give or take). The two big greenhouses hold 7350 blocks each so the gutter-to-gutter connects are equivalent to 5 freestanding greenhouses.

Last stop: The lift line

The lift line is where it all ends. Seedlings leave the blocks and get packaged into boxes for storage or distribution into the field. It takes a lot of people to run the lift line. More so in the summer to keep things running smoothly.

In the winter, they lift by greenhouse. That means, they bring in an entire seed lot, lift it until it’s finished and then it goes to storage. The summer harvest, Siriol describes, “is a bit more chaotic because we’re lifting to order.”

Sylvan Vale Nursery employs 10 to 15 full time workers and in the busy times another 45 seasonal workers (give or take). They have a core group of workers who’ve been returning, seasonally, for 30 years, but they still have to hire quite a few new people each season.

A Lift Line Demonstration


Iola Elder’s daughter, Sanna, demonstrates quality checking on the lift line.

Like the seed line, the lift line equipment is designed by George Shikaze of Vancouver Bio-Machine Systems. Siriol can’t say enough good things about George, “The belts are all different at each nursery you go to.”

The lift building is a greenhouse, which has the added bonus of supplying a lot of natural light to help the workers see and grade the seedlings.

At Sylvan Vale Nursery, they lift the seedlings by a set caliper and height. They set the conveyor belt so the trees don’t come in clumps and one person grades, stacks and bundles the trees as they go by.

If they don’t do a good job, the nursery gets penalized for sending out bad trees. Siriol explains, “A lot of people at the nursery do quality control. That’s our big thing. If we send a seed lot that’s got 10% culls it can now get rejected or a financial penalty.”

The trees are then carefully wrapped, top to bottom to protect the roots from light exposure, and packed upright into wax-coated boxes. Each box holds between 180 and 270 trees depending on the size. If the trees are going into the freezer for storage, a plastic bag is placed in the box to help protect the trees.

That’s how it all happens at Sylvan Vale Nursery—from seed to seedling 8 million times over.

A big PFLA thanks to Sylvan Vale Nursery for their hospitality (did we mention they fed us donuts?) and the informative tour. PFLA was also delighted to present Iola and Siriol, the duo Rod Bealing describes as “twin bundles of awesomeness”, with a PFLA Stewardship Award for their dedicated support of private forest owners.

You can learn more about Sylvan Vale Nursery on their website and check out more tour photos on our Facebook page.