planted seedlings in a forest

Trees planted at Van Isle Tree Farm, a managed forest property owned by the Robertson family near Sooke, BC

Did you know about 12.5 million trees are planted on private forestland in B.C. each year? That’s close to 200 million trees planted in this century alone.

Because fast, efficient reforestation ensures harvested sites are quickly re-colonised with commercially valuable trees, rather than non-commercial brush, managed forest owners typically replant within 6 months of harvesting (even though the legislation, technically, allows 5 years for an area to be restocked).

Independent silviculture contractors are an integral component of reforestation on B.C.’s managed forest lands. Roughly figured, the 12.5 million trees planted on private forest land each year equate to about 12,500 days of tree planting work every year.

Over the years, PFLA members have developed long-lasting business relationships with many of the individuals and companies doing impressive silvicultural work across the province. Many of the quality timber crops we’re harvesting today were expertly planted and tended by members of the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association (WSCA).

As representatives of the silvicultural industry in western Canada, the WSCA hosted their annual conference and trade show early in February at the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria.

About the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association

The Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association is committed to increasing the public good by promoting the proper management of forest ecosystems in Western Canada. It is dedicated to fostering and maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct and practice among its member silvicultural contractors and the forestry industry in general.

Since 1984 the WSCA has represented the silvicultural contracting industry to both federal and provincial governments on forest policy, industry regulation, and health and safety matters.

Their members include treeplanting, stand tending, wildfire fighting, site preparation and ecosystem restoration contractors.

Highlights from the 2015 WSCA Conference

PFLA was lucky enough to stop by the WSCA conference on Thursday, February 5th for a number of interesting presentations and panel discussions, along with spirited comments from the audience.

The day’s theme was “Restoring B.C.’s Forests After the Mountain Pine Beetle: Policy & Business Opportunities for the Silviculture Sector.” The line-up of presenters included:

  • John Innes, Faculty of Forestry, UBC
  • Brian Simpson, freshly retired Executive Director, Wildfire Management Branch
  • Keith Atkinson, CEO, BC First Nations Forestry Council

In his synopsis of the day’s events, WSCA executive director, John Betts, identifies wild fire and Aboriginal title as major game-changers for B.C. forestry.

“Silviculture contractors see a promising future for forestry if they and their allies can build an economy based on restoring the province’s forests.

This optimism followed a panel discussion at last week’s WSCA 2015 Annual Conference that began by outlining the uncertainty that defines forestry at the moment. “I am not sure there actually is a forest strategy in B.C.,” said UBC Dean of Forestry John Innes citing the contradictions and complexities that stand as challenges to forestry after the mountain pine beetle.

Meanwhile, across the landscape the wild fire threat continues to gain force; something that former Wildfire Management Branch head Brian Simpson said “has to become part of the conversation around whatever we do on the land in the province.” He warned that fire suppression capacity is limited while more values and infrastructure are being added to the landscape.

Whatever it might take to shift the conversation and direction in forestry may come from the province’s First Nations. Keith Atkinson CEO of the BC First Nations Forestry Council spoke to the recent Supreme Court of Canada Chilcotin decision as an opportunity to have First Nations values lead in managing and restoring the province’s public forests.

The aboriginal land title decision may see “First Nations managing the province’s public forests in decades or maybe even in years,” said John Innes.”

The conference also included a day dedicated to health, safety and human resources in the silviculture sector, as well as an afternoon focused on recruiting and retaining the B.C. silviculture work force and a series of technical workshops.

The WSCA is striving to have all the conference proceedings posted on the WSCA website as soon as possible so please check there for more detailed information. You can also check out the WSCA Flickr page for event photos.

PFLA has a deep rooted respect for the work of the WCSA and its members and we share a similar vision for a healthy, vibrant, competitive forestry industry in British Columbia.

Thanks to the organizers for another great conference event!