Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
18 Sept 2020
Volume 20 Issue 12

Warning: Some fact statements in this publication may contain Latin.

WFCA Recommends Keeping this Spring’s Covid Rules for 2021 Planting

WFCA

An increase in socializing, not all of it acceptable, is resulting in rising active COVID-19 cases. There is only so much socializing that our current attempts to live, the virus can tolerate. If we expand socializing in one area, say by getting kids back to school, we have to reduce socializing in other areas to maintain equilibrium and keep the virus in the background. Not everyone understands that if we add risk in one area we need to take out in another. And so the microbes take advantage…

The WFCA is recommending that next year tree planting contractors adopt the same COVID-19 protocols and measures taken this spring to ensure the safety of workers and communities. This recommendation to all contractors, licensees, and government comes at the beginning of the annual fall bidding and negotiating tournament for 2021’s planting contracts. Bid prices set this fall will need to reflect the standard of care expected next year. This proposed repeat of the initial Provincial Health Officer’s silviculture sector rules laid down last April also comes after a lessening of the broad health constraints imposed on British Columbians. Nevertheless, the contractors recognize that the microbe will continue to exploit opportunities to spread well into next year if not beyond. COVID-19 will remain as a threat of varying severity to workers, communities, and the planting program. This approach will have its costs. But it is based on the wisdom history has tried to teach us from previous plagues and epidemics, salus populi suprema lex esto—public health must be the highest law—overriding the laws of the marketplace. Talks in English are ongoing between the WFCA, BCTS, MFLNRORD and licensees to agree on COVID health standards for next year.

BC Forest Minister Recognizes and Thanks Planters and Contractors

WFCA

Not only are we on track to plant close to 300-million seedlings this year during a pandemic, including this planter’s work on a Forest Carbon Initiative project, we also reached the 9-billion tree milestone for total trees planted in BC.

In a letter to the Western Forestry Contractors’ Association, Minister of Forests, Doug Donaldson recognized the successful completion of this year’s reforestation program thanking all those who contributed. “The incredible efforts of everyone involved has enabled the province to plant the largest number of seedlings in a single season while addressing the challenges associated with the COVID-19 global pandemic and, as of the end of August, close to 300 million trees have been planted, a milestone that looked to be quite unlikely back in the middle of March,” he said. The Minister cited the professionalism of the sector and the commitment of the workers under difficult circumstances and how that kept crews and communities safe from the spread of COVID-19. Given where we are in preparing for next year’s season he made the pertinent observation, “Using our experiences this season will be important as we have another big year in 2021 with almost 300 million trees to plant and we will need you all to help make it another success.” To read the letter click here.

Why Are We So Fortunate?

WFCA

An oppressive pall of smoke lays over much of the province having crossed the border from the catastrophe in the western U.S. So why aren’t we on fire?

June saved us. All that spring wet weather brought by moist Pacific air may have made things dull. But it dampened things enough that we have managed to side-step another bad wildfire season in the Canadian west. This would be the third consecutive year that our province seems to be the exception to the fires we have seen around us. Nevertheless, we can’t help but feel the ineluctable pressure of the regression to the mean. We can’t keep this up for long given our circumstances. Climate change and its inevitable effects will reach all of us. At the same time our landscapes continue to gather energy and opportunity for more disastrous fire years as a result of pests and our actions and inactions. We can only hope our friends in the U.S. get a reprieve from the weather in the short term and that we all widely adopt provident strategies for the long term. 
 
This week BC began exporting government wildfire fighters to the U.S. Discussions are underway to see if contractor type II wildfire crews could go south as well.