Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumor Mill RoundUpDate
7 February, 2020
Volume 20 Issue 1

Warning: In our first edition of 2020 none of our facts will be characterized using already well-worn figures of speech referring to vision or clarity.

Survey Reveals Workplace Harassment and Assaults

Hearing accounts of sexual assault and harassment in some planting camps, as read at last week’s WFCA conference, was distressing. Meanwhile the sector continues its ongoing work to make the forestry workplace and camps violence free.

Tree planters, most of these women, responded to a recent survey on workplace violence telling of being harassed and sexually assaulted by fellow workers including, in some cases, their supervisors. The results of the poll conducted by the Northern Society for Domestic Peace (NSDP) were presented at the WFCA 2020 Annual Conference in Prince George last week. The poll gathered accounts going back over a number of years. Although deeply disturbing, the personal accounts were consistent with workplace safety concerns the industry has been working to address through its BC SAFE Forestry Program (BCSFP). As part of that the NSDP has been collaborating with contractors for the last two years visiting their camps to educate crews. The BCSFP has been working with owners and supervisors providing education and training on how to prevent and deal with worker harassment and assaults in the work environment. The report attracted national news coverage which many in the planting sector fear gave a distorted view of tree planting. Nevertheless, some employers are seeing that as ultimately a good thing; showing the public that the industry is dealing with its problems. “There can be no concern about industry image – only concern about victims,” said BC SAFE Forestry Advocate Jordan Tesluk.

For Dr. Tesluk’s statement on recent events and the sector’s ongoing work to reduce workplace harassment and violence in the tree planting workplace please click here.

Planting Two-Billion Trees is More Than Planting Two-Billion Trees

Electoral cycles, administrative sequences, planning processes and plant phytogenesis will all have to align for our federal government to deliver on its promise to plant two billion seedlings over the next ten years.

The WFCA has asked Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources, to meet with reforestation industry representatives soon to discuss immediate actions to ensure our government can reach its commitment to plant two-billion seedlings over the next ten years. The federal Low Carbon Economy Fund (LCEF), which has driven much of the recent increase in planting trees in B.C. expires in 2022. But we don’t have two years to wait before we fund efforts to begin to deliver on our government’s objectives says the WFCA. Planners for B.C.’s Forest Carbon Initiative (FCI), which relies on federal dollars, indicate they need money today to buy seed to sow for planting in 2022. Right now, FCI planting ends in 2021 with an estimated 26.6 million seedlings.
 
The WFCA wants to avoid the risk of any destabilizing gaps in federally-funded incremental reforestation for fear it will disrupt the market, jeopardize investments, and possibly scatter the sector’s efforts to recruit and retain a capable workforce. At the same time plant life cycles are indifferent to political and budgeting cycles. Extended delays at the front end of the reforestation sequence, which includes getting seeds, then sowing and growing seedlings, could push the actual planting of the first of the two billion trees right to the end of this electoral cycle. That might have political consequences for our government.
 
The WFCA intends our Minister of Natural Resources to understand that planting two-billion seedlings is a major project. In practice it comprises planning, prescribing, sowing, growing, administrating, monitoring and researching as well as planting. All these elements need to be considered and in place for the two-billion seedling promise to be realized.

Order of the Dull Caulk Inducts New Members

New Inductees to the Order of the Dull Caulk were announced at this year’s WFCA 2020 Annual Conference banquet including photos of Tony Harrison, Lorne Bedford, Dirk Brinkman, Jo Graber (with John Betts)

The Order of the Dull Caulk, which works through age-old rituals and ceremonies dating back to the origins of tree planting (thought to be the early carboniferous era) inducted four new members into its secret ranks at the last WFCA conference. Safety consultant Jo Graber was recognized for his many years as a mentor and advisor to the BC SAFE Forestry Program. MFLNRORD Manager Lorne Bedford was inducted for his longstanding contribution to forestry and support of the WFCA and forestry contractors. Company owners and former WFCA director Dirk Brinkman and current long-standing director Tony Harrison were given special achievement awards for their decades of support for the WFCA and reforestation in the province. They were awarded special miniature ritual hoedads and the special privileges that go with their possession, which of course cannot be revealed to the uninitiated such as our RoundUpDate readers. One of the origin myths of the industry was that larger hoedad implements were used to plant trees. Although, given the ungainliness of the tools, this is likely just a superstition.