Western Forestry Contractors’ Association Rumour Mill RoundUpDate Volume 17, Issue 17

September 1, 2017
Volume 17, Issue 17

Warning: Some of the facts expressed in this edition may contain opinions.

BC Planters Reach Eight Billion Seedling Milestone This Year

8 billion seedlings planted in BC: two generations of making small divots in the earth’s crust…

We have it on good authority from our statists at Forest Practices Branch that the latest numbers show we planted the province’s eight billionth seedling this year. Lately it’s been taking about four years to sow, grow and plant a billion seedlings. Taking into account lower planting numbers in previous times this year’s accomplishment follows on at least four decades of concerted reforestation effort. The reliable production of billions of seedlings over the years is something our nurseries can deservedly take credit for. But the planters themselves—we think maybe 40,000 in total over the years covering two generations—deserve special recognition for their exertions. This year the WFCA plans to hold a commemorative ceremony as part of the fall plant on Vancouver Island with Ministry VIPs and actual tree planters. That would be a first for one of these events.

This Year’s B.C. Fire Season by Some Selected Numbers

Pyrocumulus ominous—this Wednesday’s cross-border-hopping Diamond Creek fire seen from 20,000 ft.; above the haze the majestic top of four miles of rank six flammagenitus cloud.

The big number, of course, is the area burned which stands at over 1 million hectares and growing. Approximately 145 fires were active this week totaling over 1154 so far this year. This week saw around 3800 firefighters on the fire line or in support. Almost 900 are from out of province with another 1500 at least from contract crews. Since things blew up in June at minimum 2,000 fire fighters have been on the line 14 hours per day seven days a week.
 
Some other figures and modeling crossed our desk earlier based on the then 900,000, or so hectares burned. The numbers assumed 30% of the area burned is in the timber harvest land base. If we were to plant this area it would require around 326-million seedlings at a cost of $1.20 per seedling including planning, site-prep, etc. That gets us to $391 million in reforestation costs. Natural regeneration is uncertain at this point, but there will be fill planting and possible thinning required to help these stands. And the modeling is out by the ten percent allowing that we are now at 1-million hectares burned. So these estimates and their assumptions may not be that far off.
 
Once again this year wild fire smoke has been B.C.’s main forest product export measured by the tonne annually. If we total direct and post fire emissions including GHG and others at 900,000 hectares burned the modeling shows 446,661,843 tonnes up in smoke into the atmosphere. If that is beyond comprehension then consider the same burning as energy released. The fire season has been the equivalent of 28,158 Halifax Harbour explosions when the ship Mount Blanc loaded with 2,925 tons of munitions blew up December 6, 1917. To put it in a nuclear perspective the fire season so far is equal to 6,497 August 6, 1945 Hiroshima detonations. And these are some of the immediate numbers. The long-term impacts measurable in terms of economic losses, full restoration costs and community trauma are yet to come.

Minister of Environment Orders Review of
Professional Reliance

In his mandate letter the Honourable George Heyman Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy was instructed to “review the professional reliance model” in order to restore public confidence in resource development in B.C. That provision reflects the considerable political momentum behind this undertaking heard in both NDP and BC Green Party campaigning and the short-lived BC Liberal government’s Throne Speech. Earlier this month the Vancouver Sun reported Minister Heyman had ordered a review of professional reliance. The WFCA, whose members include professionals, has been in touch with the Ministry requesting the terms of reference of the review and offering our assistance to our government once the process of the undertaking is more clearly defined. Professional reliance has been controversial lately after some apparent high profile failures and subsequent concerning reports by academics, the Forest Practices Board and the BC Auditor General. In response to some of the aspects of the criticism the then Consulting Foresters of BC (now part of the WFCA) published a 2015 report stating in part that the integrity of individual professionals should not be in question. Read the full report here. The BC Forest Practices Board posted a 2013 bulletin (read the full bulletin here) suggesting too much may be expected of the professional reliance model and the concerns over it “may actually be distracting from important issues with the forest management framework that need to be addressed.” There is little doubt the model needs to be examined and the WFCA has signaled its willingness to work with government and other associations to come up with remedies.