Introducing the Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
The Western Forestry Contractors’ Association (WFCA) is an association of contractors who provide all levels of pre and post-harvest planning and implementation services to the forest industry including forest engineering, timber cruising, strategic planning & timber supply analysis, nursery seedling production, silviculture services, tree planting & stand tending and wildfire management services.
Companies within the sector represented by the WFCA generate more than $500 million in annual revenues and are a significant employer for many of the members of the ABCFP.
The WFCA was formed on the merger of the Society of Consulting Foresters of BC and the Western Silviculture Contractors Association – two well-known organizations with a long history of supporting forestry contracting businesses in BC.
Overview of the Society of Consulting Foresters of BC
The Society of Consulting Foresters was founded in 1968 as a division of the Association of BC Forest Professionals and had an original mission to raise the profile of forestry consultants, improve standards of work, and to increase opportunities in contracting work with government. These goals were successfully met over our first two decades and by the mid 90’s the CFBC shifted focus to “increase the value of CFBC membership to the forest consulting business”. Recently, the CFBC has advocated for a healthy forest sector that would in-turn ensure a healthy forest consulting business environment. The 34 members of CFBC offer a broad range of professional and technical forestry services to a variety of clients including: industry, government agencies, financial institutions, private forest land owners and individuals in B.C. and throughout Canada.
Overview of the Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association
The Western Silvicultural Contractor’s Association was formed in 1984 with a focus on advocating for effective policies for the stewardship of the province’s forest resources, and has been an active participant in a variety of changes and improvements to these policies over the years. In addition, the association has been at the forefront of advocating for a regulatory environment that is consistent with the practical realities of the sector and the best interests of our members and their employees. For example, through the efforts of the WSCA, the application of the Employment Standards Act and the regulations for Camp Standards provide for specific references to the silviculture sector. In recent years, the WSCA was a founding member of the BC Forest Safety Council, and through its Safe Silviculture Project, the WSCA is recognized for developing leading edge programming in support of safety within the sector. The association has 25 active members (including nurseries, fire contractors, and forestry consultants), along with 30 associate and supplier members, and 3 licensees.
The Reasons for the Merger
As contractors, both the CFBC and WSCA wanted a more comprehensive voice with government and industry to advocate for our members and the work we do – and the new merged organization brings more resources and long-term stability through combined membership and funding.
As two groups of contractors, there was a significant synergy of common interests between the organizations in 3 key areas of focus important to our members – Business practices, Policy advocacy, and Safety program development. In essence, we found that we were often pursuing the same or similar objectives with our advocacy efforts and felt a single, larger voice would be more productive than two smaller voices.
We also benefit from access to ideas, experiences and resources from a broader membership all conducting similar types of work. We are all committed to sustainable resource management and we all are trying to ensure the sustainability of our businesses and in doing so ensure the sustainability of employment we offer.
What’s Happening Now and Where the WFCA is Headed
With the new association, we expect to increase the size of the combined membership by appealing to a broader business community, and continuing to advocate effectively on behalf of our members, with a focus on the following key themes;
Comminications: We will continue to provide regular communications and press releases about industry issues and events through our Rumour Mill Round Update (if you aren’t a subscriber, please go to our website and sign up). The new WFCA organization will continue to speak to the provincial media on forestry matters, we will continue to hold our excellent annual conferences and our intermittent ones, such as our two international conferences on wildfire, and we will continue to communicate with and educate all levels of government on our perspective on forestry.
Business Practices: We advocate for sound, appropriate regulations on the part of all regulatory agencies (labour standards, camps in unorganized territory, implementation of technology and contracting standards (specifically within BCTS)) to ensure a practical business operating environment while also recognizing and valuing issues important to our employees and the local communities in which we operate.
Forest Policy: We advocate for sound and effective forest policy to ensure healthy and resilient forests for BC. Recent examples include review of stocking and free to grow standards, strategies to access uneconomic timber in the THLB, landscape level programs to restore forests damaged through pests like the MPB and fire.
Forestry Consulting: We advocate for high professional standards when it comes to the practice of forestry and forestry consulting. Examples have included input to professional compliance certificate development, review or professional reliance standards and input on the BCTS structure and policy framework.
Safety: We are active participants with the Forest Safety Council in advocating for, and implementing, effective safety programming and training for our sector.
In 2016 we successfully brought sylvicultural contracting under the umbrella of the Forestry Service Providers Compensation Fund. What this means for anybody doing contract silviculture work as defined in the regulation and you are not paid, there is now a means to secure payment via the fund.
For 2017, we have a long list of priorities, including; ensuring that the upcoming provincial election includes a focus on policies that matter to our members; ensuring the implementation of a landscape level restoration program such as the Forest Carbon Initiative; expanding access to affinity programs for medical benefits, insurance, and supplier discounts to our members and in general, ensuring that our members are supporting the sustainable development of BC’s natural resources.
We are always looking for new members and support for what we do. Please join us in making your contributions to BC’s forests a part of the conversation; join us in making your voice heard on forest policy, safety, and business practices that impact you and your business.