Prince George will host next year’s WSCA 2005 Annual Conference, Trade Show and AGM. Corporate concentration, the BC Safe Silviculture Project, BCTS contract management, forestry funding and wildfire fuels management will main themes covered over the three-day event.

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Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association

WSCA 2005 Conference January 19-21, 2005 Coast Inn of the North Prince George, B.C.

Program Outline of Main Themes

Corporate concentration and the silvicultural contracting market

With reports from the treeplanting bidding wars saying this year’s competition is more vicious than virtuous, could it be a one-sided buyers’ market that is driving prices down? Corporate concentration and its effect on the market for contract silvicultural services will be one of the WSCA 2005 Annual Conference’s main themes. What are the laws of economics and the laws of competition that apply to the silvicultural service market as the number of buyers shrink through corporate mergers? Federal competition lawyers and forest economists will speak to contractors offering some insights into what changes to expect and what corporate and collective strategies to consider.

The B.C. Safe Silvicultural Project

Over the next two years the silvicultural industry will undertake prequalifying silvicultural contractors and certifying and qualifying key silvicultural occupations, such as drivers and supervisors, as part of the BC Health and Safety Accord. No one will be able to do silvicultural business in B.C. without meeting these qualifications, which will apply to employment standards as well as workplace safety. This is likely to be one of the most profound changes to how the silvicultural industry does business since its inception thirty years ago. It also poses a major challenge and opportunity for the WSCA as it has been asked by the BC Forest Safety Council to be the prime delivery agent of these changes.

At the conference the WSCA and the BC Forest Safety Council will outline the general budget, strategy and objectives of the project. Since one of the overriding principles of the BC Health and Safety Accord is industry self-regulation, the conference will be a seminal session for contractors to contribute to how standards will be identified, set and implemented for our industry over the next years.

BC Timber Sales

As the largest agreement holder in the province already, and likely to grow even more, BC Timber Sales is a major player in the silvicultural service market. How it tenders and manages its growing number of silvicultural projects is vitally important to all contractors, even those who have stayed away from ministry work previously. Contract size, tendering practices, treatment of poor performers, complaint processes for bidders are all issues Larry Pedersen the new assistant deputy minister in charge of BCTS will address in a plenary session with contractors.

Forestry Funding

Some optimists believe the Liberals are about to address the growing deficit of public forest stewardship through an overdue increase in silvicultural program funding. The conference may be the venue for this announcement if it hasn’t already been made. Ministry of forests executives will address contractors outlining, we hope, a major commitment to address the ballooning reforestation and restoration backlog of fire and pest-damaged forests and impeded plantations.

Fuel management and wildfire issues.

Both 2003 and 2004 produced consecutive wildfire seasons with extreme wildfire behaviour on major fires. The Liberal government has promised to implement the recommendations of the Firestorm 2003 Provincial Report which included a government-led wildfire strategy and a major forest fuel reduction program. To date these key programs have yet to be fully outlined. The conference will provide a forum to review progress to date and consider the implications for contract fire fighting and prescribed burning in the province.