VanWestern Silvicultural Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill Roundupdate

May 2, 2014
Vol. 14-7

Drawing a blank on FISTs: couldn’t we at least advertise these anonymous transport units as having something to do with planting trees? What does it take to train workers? Could the silviculture industry do better with its rookies? Why don’t footwear manufacturers make better work boots for women?

What does it take to train planters?

We know tree planting can be learned. But how well can it be taught? This spring hundreds of rookies will learn, or not, how to plant trees. From all accounts it is a mysterious process including osmosis, mentoring, bad examples, actual instruction, good examples and experience. The results are often just as mixed. To remedy that the BC Silviculture Workforce Initiative Team (SWIT) is developing an industry-driven profile of the skills and knowledge workers need to be productive and safe. It will be combined with the best teaching strategies based on input from workers and crew bosses. Later this year SWIT will draft a summary of teaching content and training strategies for tree planters and supervisors. The eventual goal is to produce a full suite of skills to produce a forestry restoration worker, someone competent and employable in various operational silviculture activities.

Worker Day of Mourning Brings Calls for Tougher Workplace Regulations

This week’s annual Day of Mourning on Monday saw ceremonies for lost workers in which labour groups and families called for more criminal prosecutions, rigorous investigations and tougher regulations around workplace safety. Many of the calls were framed in the ongoing controversies and grief over workers killed in BC sawmill blasts in 2012. The BC silviculture sector has suffered the fatal loss of two workers since 2009. In the same five-year period there were over 700 workers seriously injured.

Briefly Noted:

• Some initial worker interview findings about boots and footing. Women continually report they cannot find properly fitting work boots. Even the small sizes some manufacturers produce best fit broader male feet. Considering 40% of the planting workforce is female that is a large market for a manufacturer who can see the advantage in supplying it.

• Seedlings sown and now growing in nurseries for planting in 2015 indicate next year will be comparable or slight larger than this year’s estimated 240 million. We won’t know for sure until seedlings are sown in the fall for the 2015 summer planting.

• Watch This Space Department: There are an estimated 500 FIST units on the road in BC almost of all of which are mostly blank, and, to the untrained eye, anonymous. If owners were to paint, or apply, something (even their company names) on the sides of these units promoting silviculture, or identifying the planting industry, it would be the equivalent, in terms of square feet of advertising space, to the public seeing 100 large highway-size billboards around the province. Is this a missed opportunity maybe?