It seems the current B.C. forest management model may not be suitable any longer to properly support forest ecosystems, communities or the economies they generate. The beetle plague, the wildfires, the pending fall down of the timber supply, the inability to capitalize on the biomass windfall along with the collapsing timber product sales are, in part, symptoms of how we manage the forest resource. Things then must change. What will the next forest, next forest economy and the next forest management model look like? This is the theme for next year’s conference.

Of the many questions that arise out of the uncertainty facing the forestry sector these days, two stand out enough to warrant building the next WSCA conference around.

How come the general public thinks those of us in the silviculture industry must be very busy these days addressing the province’s many forest problems; particularly the mountain pine beetle and the recent forest fires?

Of course we are not busy. In fact it is just the opposite. Silviculture contractors, nurseries and forestry consultants all face bleak prospects. There is a growing and fatalistic sentiment that we are a moribund sector and there is little actual sustenance in the province’s promises and headlines regarding climate change and a green economy.

That first question spawns another handful, all of which we hope to address in a unique panel comprising representatives of the provincial media. Is there a problem getting resource stories into the news lineup? Are resource stories too complex for the public to grasp? What has worked and not worked with the WSCA media strategy to date? Is there a cure for public ignorance of the state of forestry in the province? Would it make any difference if the public was better informed?

What’s next? If the present forest management model is not working, and the evidence tends to support that, what will the next forest management model and the next forest sector look like?

Again, another handful of questions:

What is government working on to meet the recommendations of the Working Roundtable on Forestry?

Why is bio-energy taking so long to emerge as a viable sector, to say nothing of the climate action agenda?

What are the economic indicators for the future and what do they indicate?

How long can can everybody hold out waiting for change?

To answer these and other questions we have invited another panel’s worth of speakers including ministers, key executives, academics and forestry opinion leaders. As we round out the program we will announce all the invited speakers and panelists.

Along with this packed program the WSCA will host an afternoon dedicated to safety policy including addresses from key BC Forest Safety Council members and our BC SAFE Silviculture Project strategic advisory committee.

Two days of training are also planned for the Monday and Tuesday prior to the conference’s official opening on Wednesday afternoon. Details will follow. As usual the conference will wind up with the final morning dedicated to setting priorities and strategic direction for the WSCA heading into 2010. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing you at the conference.

Watch this site for program updates.

John Betts,
Executive Director
Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association
Ph: 250-229-4380