In this issue we plug our upcoming 2016 WSCA Annual Conference and Trade Show, compare earthquake preparation funding to wildfire prevention funding (not much to compare) and ask if anybody has a better idea about what to do with a million wasted tree boxes each year.
Warning: The facts included in this issue may contain opinions.
And now a few words about the 2016 WSCA Conference
The things you have been hearing about the WSCA conferences are true. It is a good way to spend the better part of three days in February in the company of forestry colleagues, contractors and clients. We try to keep things practical and candid with a focus on both the big policy picture and the day-to-day operations of being in the silviculture business. Next year’s Annual WSCA Conference and Trade Show is set for February 3rd to 5th 2016 in Kelowna, B.C. at the Coast Capri Hotel. We are working now on finalizing the program, the panelists, the presenters, the keynote speaker and workshop leaders; so stay tuned. The big policy theme will be, What’s the big idea/vision for forestry as we contend with the post-mountain beetle era and its consequences? We will get down to business with things like getting injured workers out of the woods more quickly, accident investigation training, better integrating contractors into the wildfire suppression program, and changing how BCTS tenders contracts to name a few. For details visit our new and improved www.wfca.ca.
What a difference a paradigm shift makes.Here are some interesting figures that crossed our desk recently. One expert we know contends that the provincial estimates for potential losses from the pending “Big One”—the expected, overdue some say, massive earthquake off the Pacific coast—are between $17 billion to $34 billion. To deal with that threat close to $20 billion has been invested, mostly in seismic design and upgrades to structures. That rounds out to almost a one-to-one ratio of dollars invested to mitigate or prevent disastrous earthquake loss estimates. In suppressing wildfire—this year being a good example of disastrous effects—we have spent close to $2.5 billion over the last decade or so. That doesn’t include the indirect costs to the provincial economy, which are many times that figure. To mitigate risk due to wildfire we have invested approximately $120-milllion so far. That’s a ratio around twenty-to-one to mitigate ongoing losses due to disastrous wildfire. Comparing the two risk scenarios, we may be in the wrong business. Rather than thinking of reducing the wildfire threat as a suppression or forest stewardship issue, we should approach it as a disaster mitigation strategy. There seems to be more money and interest operating in that policy paradigm.
Is there a better way to clean up our mess?Speaking of estimates crossing our desk lately here are some we have a direct hand in. It takes almost a million cartons to store and transport the seedlings the silviculture industry plants annually according to one of our major packaging suppliers. Imagine that as 125 transport trailer units packed with flattened boxes. Or close to 1,875 tons of waste boxes, a large portion of which by weight is wax, going to the landfill each year. Dumping them there runs about $2000 per truckload. Add in the time spent rounding them up in the field and all that goes with that and we have an estimated $250,000 plus price tag for properly disposing the boxes. This is money the industry has to spend each year. So is there something smarter we can be doing? We are not the only ones with this problem of disposing cartons. The produce, meat and fish production industries all use wax boxes too and have to get rid of them. The WSCA has been asked to help out. One option is to use the heat contained in these boxes by recycling them as artificial combustible fuel logs. Unfortunately the only plant we have found doing this is in Georgia, U.S.A. So there is the problem of shipping costs. We look forward to your ideas.