Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
8 May 2020
Volume 20 Issue 5
Warning: We have suspended our normal fact warning since we have been warned about enough things lately.
COVID-19 Planning Marathon is Over.
Interior Planting Race Begins.
We first discussed the possibility of planting trees in a pandemic in late January at the 2020 WFCA annual conference. By mid-February we were planning for it. So, when the B.C. provincial health officer announced special rules for the silviculture sector finally in late April, Interior planting employers had already spent March anticipating the PHO’s COVID-19 special measures. They also benefited from the best practices implemented by coastal crews who had been operating under COVID-19 conditions since February. The BC chief forester’s request to delay things at the end of March avoided a haphazard and possibly disastrous start to the Interior season which would normally begin in mid-April. That pause, asked for by contractors, created the necessary time to plan for the pandemic’s extraordinary circumstances.
Before the Interior’s 240-million seedlings could be thawed and more than 4000 Interior workers mobilized, three things needed to be in place. The sector needed license to work. Already designated as essential work operators needed clear health and hygienic standards and guidance on how to keep their crews and BC communities safe. They next needed community acceptance. First Nations and other rural communities were uncertain about the prospects of outside workers coming to their communities and possibly amplifying the spread of the virus. And finally, the contractors needed to amend their contract prices to make sure they could proceed safely and successfully with one of the largest annual reforestation campaigns in B.C.’s history. To say all these have fallen into place perfectly would be wishful. The intense concentration in our small world of silviculture over the last six weeks has seen success, setbacks, distractions, uncertainty, anxiety and progress repeated in ongoing cycles as short, sometimes, as just a few hours. Meanwhile all this has been set against a societal upset the likes of which few of us have ever seen or imagined. The best part is the spring planting seasons in both BC and Alberta are getting underway.