Western Forestry Contractors’ Association
Rumour Mill RoundUpDate
26 November 2021
Volume 21 Issue 14

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WFCA 2022 Conference: Should Modernizing Land Use Planning Mean Managing More for Natural Disasters?

This apparent wildfire-resistant plantation originally prescribed-burned before planting. Can we retrieve this mostly abandoned silviculture practice as one of the operational forest management tactics that could help mitigate the disastrous consequences of future wildfires?

As the weather continues its assault on our province—and other parts of Canada— the term “new normal” for the string of calamities we have endured since summer is less than helpful. These emerging natural disaster emergencies are not signs of a new kind of order settling in place. They likely are the opposite; a worsening pattern of disorder brought about by the increasing progress of climate change. But a climate-driven dystopia is not inevitable. In many cases our patterns of development and settlement on BC’s already challenging landscapes have increased our exposure to the consequences of global warming. Yet within the current hardship—with their social roots in how we have settled and developed the land—we can see possible remedies. Changing land management strategy has to be one of the priorities we consider in becoming more resilient in the face of the future and its increasing natural hazards. This summer’s wildfire emergency—one of three in the last five years—has been instructive. We are now starting to look at forest management through the lens of natural disaster management. Managing the forest and range landscape to reduce the severity and frequency of wildfire and its consequences, including flooding, is an obvious necessity. Just what that might look like and how we would bring it about in practice will be the key policy theme for our WFCA 2022 Virtual Annual Conference and AGM next February. Stay tuned as we work to tune in the full program for you. Click here to register.

2021 Forestry Sector Study Finds Mental Health a Major Concern Among
Workers

Prior to the completion of the first labour market information (LMI) study of the BC silviculture sector in 2014, tree planting was categorized somewhat dismissively as a life-style choice, rather than a legitimate seasonal occupation. But the LMI study’s final report and resulting human resource strategy brought the sector into needed focus for the important part it plays in BC’s forest economy. It also identified, among other findings, weakness in employee wages and the prevalence of workplace harassment; trends which the industry has spent much of the last half-decade correcting. An expanded review and reprise of the original labour market information study, just released yesterday, updates the demographic profile of the sector while widening its scope to more fully cover subsectors such as seedling production, independent consulting, wildfire and fuels management, along with tree planting and silviculture contracting. Among its principal findings were: general worker satisfaction with wages; the need for better access to mental health resources—aggravated by constraints related to the pandemic; need for more career opportunities within the sector; and the imperative to develop effective strategies to ensure the sector can continue to attract and retain capable workers. The 2021 Silviculture Labour Market Information was supported with funding provided by the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement in collaboration with the Western Forestry Contractors’ Association. An updated human resource strategy for the forestry sector as a follow up to the LMI study is in the works and expected to be released early next year.

New Research Raises Possibility of Lyme Disease Vaccine

So far, a possible human vaccine resisting infection from this parasite is working on guinea pigs

Working in and around the woods has always included an extended skirmish with biting flies, ticks, and some plant-based toxins—all of them determined to get on, or under, workers’ skins. Some of those assailants go beyond being a nuisance posing severe threats to our health. Among the worst of those is Lyme disease, a debilitating and not fully understood malady borne by some ticks common to forestry workplaces across Canada. Recent mRNA research has raised the chance that workers could be immunized to the effects of tick-borne disease through a vaccine. Preclinical tests in guinea pigs indicate the vaccine aids the immune system in recognizing tick bites, resulting in the parasites being dislodged before they can transmit any pathogenic disease.