Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
September 10, 2021
Volume 21 Issue 10

Warning: All opinions expressed in this edition contain facts. Some facts may contain opinions.

Emergency Response is Only One Part of Preventing Wildfire Disasters

There is more to it. Besides responding to wildfire emergencies, we need to manage all the hazard cycle factors in order to help us avoid and recover from disasters, i.e., hazard mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery.

Some British Columbians may now see summer as a threat. Looking over the last twenty years, the three provincial wildfire emergencies since 2017 may be exceptional. But looking forward these wildfire seasons are likely to be the norm. The landscape through much of our province and other parts of the west is becoming a natural hazard in summer posing risks to ecosystems and our social order. This summer we have seen heat, drought, and wildfire—all agents of natural disaster, all amplified by climate change. This is just the beginning of the perturbations we can expect.

By this comparison the last three BC Provincial State of Emergencies due to wildfire would qualify as natural disasters. From Disasters: A Sociological Approach, Kathleen Tierney

A full strategic approach to understanding and mitigating the effects of natural disasters recognizes a “hazard cycle.” It comprises four parts: mitigating the hazard; preparing for; responding to; and recovering from events. Today, we focus primarily on emergency response for obvious reasons. But, as we are seeing, fire suppression has limits. To be resilient in the face of coming events we must adjust our actions across all the factors that contribute to natural disasters including: investing in land management to mitigate the wildfire hazard; encouraging home-owners and communities to install protection systems and take other steps to reduce their flammability; diversifying our wildfire response model; and fully recognizing the social trauma and systems disruption associated with disasters while ensuring the most vulnerable are looked after. If we take this approach to our current wildfire disasters we have a better chance to reduce the severity of the worsening trends. Then summers can be something we look forward to again.

WFCA Recognizes New Tree Planting Record: 23,060 Seedlings in a Day

Antoine Moses (centre, blue t-shirt) with friends and fellow supporters after setting a new record for the number of seedlings planted in a day this summer.

It takes feck and grit to get through any work day for most tree planters. This summer two exceptional workers took the idea of a hard day’s work to its limits by breaking the Canadian (and we would say world) record for the most trees planted in a 24-hour period. Kenny Chapman, the previous record holder, had stayed on his feet 19 hours to plant 15,170 seedlings in 2020. Nevertheless, this year’s challengers passed that mark July 17th on a cut block just south of High Level, Alberta. Summit Reforestation planter Kilty Elliott managed a remarkable 18,500. But it was Blue Collar Reforestation’s Antoine Moses who added almost another 5000 seedlings to reach 23,060 by the time the sun was back in the sky signalling 24 hours on the job. Both workers were supported by rotating tree packers, first aiders, water carriers, planting quality checkers and two WFCA directors acting as invigilators to ensure the process was conducted properly. Mr. Moses, having completed this remarkable feat—a goal he has been preparing for since last year—donated his earnings, as did Mr. Elliott along with other sponsors, towards a $25,000 donation to the Isabelle Brisson Memorial Scholarship Fund at Queen’s University. Blue Collar Manager Jeff Lutes described Antoine as a “passionate tree planter, who provides an amazing example to anyone who works with him.” The WFCA recognized the record to assist Mr. Moses in enshrining his total in the Guinness Book of Records.

COVID-19 Endemicity, Labour, and Future Demand Featured at WFCA Virtual Annual Business and Market Summit Wednesday 29 September

Planting contractors, wildfire suppressions service providers, seedling producers, and independent consulting foresters will meet virtually this month Wednesday, September 29th in an annual assessment of what the forestry sector’s prospects look like heading into 2022 and beyond. Figuring out what’s going to happen next in terms of supply chains, labour, emergencies, markets and business has become tricky lately. Nevertheless, the WFCA Annual Business and Market Summit will look at the main business assumptions that will drive costs and investments in the short and long term. Among those moving parts the Summit will assess what we have learned from two years of pandemic and how to apply them to what looks surely like a third year of COVID-19 risks in 2022. In the planting world estimates show approximately 285 million seedlings will be planted next year. But with this summer’s wildfires just cooling, a federal election underway, and the 2-billion tree commitment yet to be signed and sealed for the long term what kind of an outlook do we have, say, five years out? This year’s wildfire season saw a shortage of competent wildfire fighters. With more heat on the horizon how can the sector build emergency capacity? A labour market information study conducted this year is complete. What can it tell us about the disposition of tree planters, nursery workers, fire-fighters, silviculture saw operators, technicians and professionals? Our full detailed program including presenters and panel discussions and the link to the session will be announced soon. Stay tuned.