Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
20 September 2019
Volume 19 Issue 13
Warning: Many of the figures contained in this publication are estimates lacking facticity being they have not really occurred and are not yet actually the case; although the fact of their probability, in as much as probability can be factual, suggests they may be facts in the making and should be treated accordingly.
All of Next Year’s Estimated 40-Million Seedling Increase in Planting are Planned for the Already Crowded Interior Spring Reforestation Season
The die is cast, or more accurately, the sowing cavities are filled (nearly) in nurseries that will see at least 308-million seedlings come on the market during this fall’s tree planting bidding and negotiating tournament for the 2020 reforestation program. This year’s annual reforestation total is headed to somewhere between 270 to 280-million seedlings. Almost all of the 2020 estimated 40-million seedling increase over 2019’s total planting will occur in next year’s spring planting window. April, May and June are months particularly vulnerable to the vicissitudes of weather including frost and floods as the province goes from winter to summer. These can delay and disrupt the annual reforestation campaign. And spring is already the busiest reforestation season with the planting sector typically operating at peak capacity. Getting from this year’s 211-million spring seedlings to 250-million next year will prove challenging. Anticipating this, MFLNRORD has extended the spring planting window ten days beyond the usual 21 June deadline. Contractors began preparing for next year’s full-court-press of planting by raising bid prices this year to increase planters’ earnings. Thanks to the cooperation of the market, licensee and government clients, the sector’s prospects for higher worker recruitment and retention rates have improved. Still, in order to meet the exceptional reforestation demand forecasted over the coming years, contractors and their clients will have to find innovative and creative ways to collaborate. Just what that might look like in actual practice will be very much on the minds of nursery operators, planting contractors and independent consulting foresters attending next week’s WFCA 2019 Business and Market Summit:
2019 Annual Business and Market Summit
Wednesday, September 25th, 2019
9:00am to 3:00pm
Thompson Rivers University Conference Centre
Alpine Room, Campus Activity Centre Building
1055 University Drive
Other Shoe Finally Drops on Forest Harvesting and Manufacturing with Welter of Closures and Layoffs.
The B.C. forest sector continues to suffer a cascade of mill closures, curtailments and lay-offs. Media reports say 3000 to 6000 mill workers have been affected as at least 25 mills have either closed, suspended or curtailed operations. The numbers of workers laid off may grow as production reductions reach out into the woods and the service economy affecting loggers, truckers and suppliers. These developments are consistent with forecasts from forestry consultant Jim Girvan who estimated in 2010 that 16 Interior lumber, veneer, and plywood mills would shut down in B.C by 2019. He appears right on that, while more recently predicting another 13 plants will have to go. Four of those have closed so far. The current collapse, although inevitable to many observers, still seems to have come as a shock as timber losses, lower lumber prices, higher log costs, and diminishing demand all lined up against the sector. Our government has responded, amidst partisan exchanges of blame, and allegations of inaction, with a $69-million short-term program to retire, retrain, and job-place laid-off workers. Some of that includes $15-million for community resilience and fuels management work. This kind of forestry work is currently funded by the three-year $50-million Community Resiliency Investment Program announced in Budget 2018. We can only hope that the recent dollars announced are additional funds, otherwise they risk displacing other already underemployed forest workers who rely on fuels management contracts for seasonal income. Since this has happened in previous schemes to mitigate downturns in the manufacturing and logging sectors the WFCA has brought this concern to the attention of MFLNRORD as they design the program.
The Blob Returns to Pacific Ocean Threatening Marine Ecosystems and Affecting Weather
Once again, a heat wave is building in the Pacific Ocean. For reasons that weren’t maybe scientific it was named The Blob when it first appeared in 2014 lasting three years and producing a 3°C rise in sea temperature extending hundreds of meters in depth. (Whether oceanographers had the 1958 sci-fi-horror flick creature in mind when naming the warming waters is uncertain being there is no evidence that movie’s alien blob entity was warm-blooded, although it did dissolve some people and maybe some buildings.) Nevertheless, The Blob’s first appearance affected ecosystems and fisheries along the whole west coast of North America. There was increased sea life mortality and degradation of ecosystems. Now, scientists fear more critical losses if this warm body of sea water persists. Less clear is how this unusually warm Pacific Ocean water might alter weather patterns, particularly those that contribute to wildfire activity or delay West Coast reforestation projects, or not. The Blob watching continues…