One of the companies that founded the silviculture contracting industry in Western Canada has packed it in.

After planting 390-million trees since 1982 Silvaram Holdings Ltd. announced last week it was discontinuing its silviculture, logging and fire-fighting operations effective immediately. Last year the firm planted 33-million trees accounting for close to ten percent of the tree planting volume across B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. Measured by payroll it was one of the largest employers in Prince George, B.C. where the company was based.

The six Silvaram partners have said little in public about what prompted their decision to cease operations. But few contractors will have trouble imagining the circumstances that might lead to quitting: perennially thin margins, dwindling earnings, a few upsets in the field, shortage of skilled workers and a generally depressed market for silviculture services where today’s prices match those seen in the early ’90s.

The loss of a major player in the silviculture sector combined with last year’s indications of a pending worker shortage are not good vital signs for a sector that needs to be in robust shape to deal with the growing restoration work required in the wake of the assault on the health of Western Canada’s forests.

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