April 28, 2017
Volume 17, Issue 9

Warning: Some facts required for this publication are missing or may not exist.

How Many Foresters Does It Take To Reforest A Forest?

BC’s technical schools are fully subscribed. Is that enough?

That’s not a trick question. It’s a good one. It’s what occurred to us when we got the results back from a quick straw poll of members taken earlier this month. In this snapshot worker recruitment and retention survey half of the forestry consulting firms who responded said they were finding it difficult to recruit qualified workers. The deficit was primarily in the technical skill sets. Almost two thirds expected their businesses to grow suggesting recruiting requirements may expand in the future, and any problems that might go with them. More than a third of the respondents said they were turning down work now because of staff shortages. Admittedly it was a small sample, but the trends seem clear. To see the full survey, click here

Now set this against what we know, or mostly don’t know, about the answer to the original question. The Association of BC Forest Professionals has been tracking forestry graduate rates across the province. The good news is they are on the rise. Less certain though is how well this growth might be addressing the current and forecast demand for technical and degree level practicing foresters. Foresters are spread throughout the licensee community, the government, and the private contracting sector. They make up the strategic brains and imagination for designing and designating forestry priorities and plans. Not much on the ground can be delivered without them. Yet they are not easily recognizable for labour research because they are diffuse. They are not in a distinct classification unit at WorkSafeBC so there is no measurement available there. And judging from our governments’ labour demand data we have reviewed, they don’t have a good handle on things either. In fact, it was the doubtful forecasts we saw coming out of their work that prompted the survey. More work needs to be done in this area of future labour market demand; if our poll is any indication.

Forestry Service Providers Compensation Fund Up And Running Update

In 2016, the WFCA convinced our provincial government of the risk that silviculture contractors faced when working with some provincial tenure holders in the event that they became insolvent and could not pay contractors. As a result, the Forestry Service Providers Compensation Fund Regulation was amended to include potential claims for non-payment from forestry contractors—generally defined as reforestation services necessary to achieve free growing. According to the 2017 first quarter report from Trustee Eric van Soeren, the Regulation’s fund continues to provide protection to both logging and silviculture contractors.

The key to accessing the fund is that the contractor, be it logging or silviculture (we have our own account within the fund), was doing defined work (according to the Forestry Service Providers Protection Act) for a “tenure holder under the Forest Act”. This definition specifically excludes doing work for a third party who might be contracted by the tenure holder. Please ensure you understand this distinction if you are at all concerned about the financial stability of the company you are contracting to. To date there have been no claims within the silviculture fund and as a result, interest on the fund balance continues to grow.

This year another $350,000 was added to the general fund available to the logging contractors. But no new money was put into the silviculture sub-account of $500,000 (plus interest). This is in line with our expectations at this point.

If you have questions or concerns and need to understand the details of how the Silviculture Fund can be accessed, please contact Eric van Soeren Trustee at 250-537-1533 or eric@vansoeren.net

BCTS Contract Advisory Committee (BCAC) Call For Input

After a year’s, or so, hiatus the BCTS Contract Advisory Committee (BCAC) is reconstituting itself and expected to meet later this spring. The purpose of BCAC is to address tendering, pre-qualifaction and other related matters that may arise from doing contract business with BCTS. This is not the same as resolving a contract dispute on a particular contract. Rather BCAC is concerned about contracting methods and means of a higher order, such as general contract terms, deposits, performance review process, prequalification for bidders, or other related general business issues that may need attention. The ongoing BC silviculture contractor rating pilot is a good example of how the committee works towards doing business better.

If you have matters that you think deserve a hearing, or some constructive suggestions, or if you are experiencing issues with the contracts you may be doing for BCTS (they may be a symptom of some deeper problems in general practice BCAC could address), please let us know by calling John Betts at 250-229-4380 or Jim Girvan at 250-714-4481.

Electric Bike Versus ATV. How Likely Is That?

Note the chainsaw attached. Is it electric as well?

To cycling purists the Ebike is a nuisance, if not an heretical affront to the whole idea of biking, particularly the mountain kind. But to the practical, might they actually have some use for certain forestry activities? As anyone who has over-loaded an ATV with tree boxes knows, there are some things you won’t be able to do with just two wheels. But for survey work or lay out, when getting an ATV into a difficult access site is a task in itself, if not a hazard, the idea of wheeling in on the light side with an Ebike might have some advantages. Why not lift the bike over the blowdown, or walk it through the washout? Those obstacles require engineering if you’re on an ATV. Plus when you are in your hotel room worrying about who is going steal your ATV out of your truck, you could actually have your Ebike in your room. OK, we know it sounds nuts. But so does a lot of the stuff we do. So we’re looking into it—a good excuse to get a manufacturer’s test bike for a while. We’ll let you know how it goes.