The Forest Enhancement Society of BC Seeks New Executive Director

Kamloops, B.C. – With Executive Director Steve Kozuki retiring from Public Service to enjoy new adventures in life, the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is seeking a dynamic individual to become its new Executive Director.

“This role has been very fulfilling,” shared Kozuki. “After leading the organization for almost seven years, it’s time for someone else to experience the profound satisfaction of driving great forestry projects to generate durable social, economic, and environmental benefits. The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a catalyst that empowers local people to create deep transformational shifts.”

Steve Kozuki; Photo credit: Tiffany Christianson.

Kozuki was initially attracted to FESBC because he saw it as an opportunity to use forestry to create significant benefits for people and the environment. The work has not disappointed.

“Like many late-career professionals, I wanted to do impactful things with a higher social purpose. The Forest Enhancement Society of BC was a once-in-career opportunity to couple private-sector business acumen with noble public-sector values.”

Kozuki shared that his favourite FESBC projects are ones that have resulted in multiple win-win benefits, including when:

  • The Taan people in Haida Gwaii who harvested middle-aged trees to make room for commercially and culturally valuable cedar. The project resulted in the opportunity to create more light for seeds and berries to grow to support the whole ecological food chain, while accelerating the achievement of old-growth attributes.
  • The Williams Lake First Nation which decided that, while it was good to thin out and fertilize a middle-aged forest to increase wood supply, it was equally important to make space for increased berry production for food.
  • Tŝilhqot’in people who applied their cultural philosophy of not wasting any part of a precious resource which drove them to use waste wood from the forest to create sustainable forest products and green energy.
  • The Okanagan Nation Alliance that thinned over-grown forests to restore sheep habitat, make communities safer from the risk of wildfire, create healthier forests that would be more resilient to climate change, reduce greenhouse gasses, and improve recreational opportunities.
  • The many Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities who have used FESBC funded projects to create jobs for people with numerous positive social and economic outcomes.

Kozuki is also very proud of how FESBC has assisted communities channel their concerns about climate change into real action. Many are now using forestry solutions to absorb more carbon from the atmosphere and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from slash-burning. In terms of emissions, forest workers working on FESBC-funded projects have taken the equivalent of over a million cars off the road for a year.

“I believe all the crucial pieces are now in place for FESBC to achieve even greater success in the years to come, which is a great opportunity for our next Executive Director,” noted Kozuki. “We have reliable long-term funding, a sound strategy guided by our astute Board of Directors, top-tier staff, a strong reputation as the preferred funding agency, powerful brand recognition, and deep alliances with an array of other organizations. I look forward to helping with the transition for our new Executive Director. The future of FESBC and its role in the forestry sector is bright.”

To apply for the Executive Director’s position, read the full details here:

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

John Massier, FESBC Board Director

Faces of Forestry is an initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. In this month’s Faces of Forestry, we are featuring a Face of FESBC to highlight one of the exceptional individuals on our Board of Directors who helps guide our organization toward impactful change.

This month, we feature John Massier, one of FESBC’s Board Directors and a leader in the industry with five decades of operational forestry experience.

John’s journey began fifty years ago when he was employed as a tree planter by the Ministry of Forests, setting the stage for a lifelong commitment to sustainable forestry practices.

“Since then, I have worked at a variety of jobs in the forest industry, including tree planter, mill worker, cone picker, faller/bucker and machine operator,” he explained.

In 1978, he founded Cottonwood Reforestation, a small business that contracted a range of bush work, from tree planting to juvenile spacing and other land-based work. Under his leadership, he employed hundreds of people and completed reforestation projects totalling over 40 million trees on more than 300 square kilometres of land in the Cariboo/Chilcotin region of British Columbia. Later, in 1993, John and his wife Hazel were awarded Woodlot 1406 that surrounds their rural home along the Cottonwood River.

Currently, he is the Director for Electoral Area C in the Cariboo Regional District (CRD), as well as the CRD Treaty representative to the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council Treaty Main Table.

Additionally, John’s deep engagement in local governance has solidified his commitment to community and environmental stewardship, leading him to serve on numerous boards over the years, including the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations, the Wells-Barkerville Community Forest, the Woodlot Product Development Council, and the Fraser Basin Council Board.

In 2022, John joined FESBC as a board director and brought his wealth of operational forestry experience and governance expertise.

“I was familiar with FESBC through my forestry work and given my varied experience in the industry and connections to local government, I thought I might offer some value to the organization,” he recalled.

Recognizing the importance of sustainable funding models for forestry initiatives, John advocates for the long-term viability of FESBC’s projects, striving to support the rural and remote communities that serve as the backbone of the industry.

“In my decades in the industry, I have witnessed and been involved in various Provincial and Federal funding programs aimed at enhancing the forest land base, yet the common theme across them was the lack of sustained funding and loss of momentum once each program ran its course,” he said. “I have always believed that any industry as important as forestry is to British Columbia needs a sustainable funding model to enhance the land base that both industry and communities rely on.”

With the recent announcement in the 2024 budget of sixty million dollars for FESBC over the next three years, John is looking forward to continuing supporting communities through wildfire risk reduction work, low-value fiber recovery, habitat enhancement, and Indigenous peoples’ participation in the forest economy.

“Being a rural resident and having lived through the devastating wildfires of the past several years I see and especially value the work FESBC has done and continues to do on community wildfire protection,” he added. “The work is costly to do, and the amount left to be done is enormous, but we are already seeing the positive results.”

Beyond his professional endeavours, John’s love for wildlife drives his volunteerism with the Northern Lights Wildlife Society as one of their capture/transport teams spread around the province.

“Those who have met me know of my love for the wildlife that we get to share our remote rural property and woodlot with. I never miss an opportunity to show the most recent fruits of my motion-sensing wildlife cameras to anyone that’s interested,” he shared.

Thank you, John, for your dedication to environmental conservation and community well-being that deeply exemplifies FESBC’s mission.

FESBC’s Executive Director to Address Forestry’s Role in Rural Development at “Keeping it Rural” Conference

Kamloops, B.C. – The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) is pleased to have its executive director, Steve Kozuki be a featured speaker at the Keeping it Rural conference. Hosted at the Four Points by Sheraton in Kelowna from May 21-23, this year’s conference will explore the theme “Sowing Seeds of Success: Cultivating Rural Economies.”

Kozuki has been involved with forestry in British Columbia since 1984 with roles such as Timber Valuation Coordinator for Weldwood, General Manager of Forestry at the Council of Forest Industries, and key positions within BC Timber Sales and Timber Pricing Branch and has led FESBC since 2017. This year, at the conference, Kozuki will share insights as a panellist on the Emergency Preparedness panel.

Photo: Steve Kozuki; photo credit: FESBC

“Forestry has been an unsung hero, often overlooked in its extensive capabilities to address environmental, economic, and social challenges, including challenges faced by rural communities,” Kozuki shared. “When it comes to wildfires, we work closely with partners like the BC Wildfire Service, Fire Chiefs, FireSmart BC and local communities and First Nations to help bolster community defences against the ever-growing threat of wildfire through thoughtful planning and collaboration. While a focus of our funded projects may be on wildfire risk reduction, our projects yield significant secondary benefits which include creating jobs, enhancing wildlife habitats, reducing greenhouse gases and creating recreational trails—all of which naturally contribute to strengthen local economies. I’m excited to share how integral forestry is to both rural sustainability and emergency preparedness on this year’s panel.”

The Keeping it Rural conference started first in 2015, is an essential gathering for economic development professionals and community leaders dedicated to encouraging sustainable development in rural communities. This year’s sessions will cover a range of topics including sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and innovative environmental conservation methods tailored for rural applications.

Sarah Sinclair, executive director of BC Rural Centre, explained what prompted them to approach Kozuki, and said, “FESBC was brought to our attention through board members in the Peace region of the province. After some brief research, it was clear to us that having Steve speak to our audience on the importance of forest enhancement and share FESBC’s success stories would bring great value. Our organization was founded as the Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition (SIBAC), so any collaboration with organizations that are in the forestry sector, be it community forests, those who work in wildfire risk mitigation, or Indigenous forest stewardship, is a natural fit.”

This year’s conference will explore various critical topics, including an introduction to the BC Rural Centre Society, innovation in rural areas, advances in agricultural practices promoting food sovereignty, and essential discussions on water stewardship concerning riverscapes and watershed health.

“The conference is two half days and a full day with keynotes from Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band and Doug Griffiths author of ‘13 Ways to Kill your Community’ and more,” said Sinclair. “With panels on rural innovation, rural agriculture, water stewardship, and more there is something for everyone. The conference is geared for rural, remote, and First Nation communities, regional districts, non-profits, and other key stakeholders. But the content really lends itself to anyone who has a passion for living rurally and keeping it rural in BC.”

People can sign up for the conference at https://ticketstripe.com/keeping-it-rural-2024.

“It is a great opportunity for anyone interested in rural challenges, to hear rural success stories and share space with some amazing people,” concluded Sinclair.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Faces of Forestry: Aurora Lavendar

Faces of Forestry is an initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. This month, we feature Aurora Lavender, representative of the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation (WCFC) on the BC Community Forest Association’s (BCCFA) Board of Directors.

Auroraholds a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Environmental Studies, from the University of Toronto, as well as a Masters in Forest Conservation.

“I was interested in a career in forestry because I spent a lot of time outdoors and have a strong affinity for nature, especially when it comes to wildlife and the maintenance of biodiversity values, as well as First Nations involvement in land use planning and decision-making,” she explained. “I always wanted to be involved in the natural resource sector because I believe that the strongest changes can come from within existing systems and that there need to be passionate individuals who are able to balance all values in these impactful roles.”

After a summer working on urban forestry with BioForest Technologies Inc. and finishing up her capstone project on gypsy moth and urban pest/forest health programs, Aurora made the decision to move to British Columbia to further develop her knowledge and skills in operational forestry.

Upon her arrival, she began working at Silvicon Services Inc. and quickly became a project manager in their timber development department. At Silvicon, Aurora worked closely with clients to ensure that safety and sustainability were at the forefront of block planning and development.

During her time at Silvicon, Aurora also began working as the General Manager for WCFC, taking direction from their Board of Directors and collaborating with diverse interest groups, First Nations, and the local community to manage a successful community forest tenure while simultaneously providing benefits such as wildfire risk reduction.

Today, Aurora continues to diligently represent WCFC on the BCCFA’s Board of Directors, enjoying the amount of engagement with interest groups and natural resource sector experts she gets to work with every day to make tangible changes in forestry management.

“The public has a strong affinity for their forests and everyone who spends time outdoors deserves a voice on what happens with their local forests, which is why the community forest model is so sustainable,” she explained. “Community forests support local people making decisions about their forests and most of them are formed through partnerships with First Nations. These are prime examples of where long-term planning and innovative practices can take place and help to build resilient ecosystems, as well as supporting informed public participation in community forest decision-making and meaningful representation in forest initiatives.”

Aurora’s dedication to community engagement and sustainable forestry practices is further exemplified by her active involvement in wildfire risk reduction initiatives. Collaborating with FESBC, she played a pivotal role in implementing several wildfire risk reduction prescriptions on Hudson Bay Mountain Road, creating a shaded fuel break to mitigate the threat of wildfires to the community and provide a defensible location for wildfire crews during emergencies.

In 2018, FESBC provided funding for the development of a Strategic Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Plan and later, for treatment implementation of this project in 2023.

“FESBC has always been a pleasure to work with, providing great resources and expertise to ensure that project completion was able to succeed. Their funding is critical to reducing wildfire risk province-wide,” she mentioned. “Support from FESBC helps make wildfire risk reduction programs economically feasible for community forests, which in turn helps better protect communities from the threat of wildfires.”

This project was also made possible through several community partnerships with the BC Wildfire Service, Hudson Bay Mountain Resort, the Skeena Stikine Natural Resource District, the Office of Wet’suwet’en, the Gitdumden Clan, Mountain Resorts Branch, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, local contractors, and local resource user groups.

Aurora strongly believes that forest policy and stewardship of British Columbia’s forests have come a long way and are on the right path, with a lot of passionate individuals who are striving to create an economically and environmentally sustainable future for the forest industry.

“The culture of forestry in the province has seen major shifts in the last several decades, and foresters, technicians, and operators have a crucial role in creating a healthy, wildfire-resilient landscape.”

Additionally, Aurora emphasizes the importance of public engagement and collaboration in forestry decision-making, urging both the public and forestry entities to foster open dialogue.

“Building relationships and working together to find solutions is the only path forward to ensure the success of the forest industry and to build resilient landscapes in this era of megafires and in the face of climate change,” she said.

Thank you, Aurora, for your passion and tireless efforts in sustainable resource management and wildfire risk reduction. Your dedication to community education, incorporation of First Nations perspectives and knowledge, and biodiversity and interest group values enrich all levels of planning processes, leaving a lasting impact on forestry in British Columbia.

Forest Enhancement Funding Boosts Sustainable Forest Management Efforts in Northwest B.C.

Terrace, B.C.: The Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) continues to play a pivotal role in advancing sustainable forest management practices through its funding for wildfire risk reduction and fibre utilization projects across the province of British Columbia. Through funding initiatives, FESBC has been instrumental in most recently supporting three critical projects undertaken by NorthPac Forestry Group Ltd. (NorthPac). These projects have significantly enhanced forest operations while contributing to British Columbia’s carbon reduction goals.

While the three projects funded by FESBC for NorthPac are similar in nature, each has its own unique aspects. For instance, a portion of the fibre removed by NorthPac and Coast Tsimshian Resources LP (CTR) includes small-diameter tops and limbs, which were historically left in the forest. In securing funding from FESBC, NorthPac and CTR have been able to introduce a chipper in Terrace to recover significantly more wood waste material, contributing to more efficient forest management.

“Forests are at the heart of our identity in B.C., and we are all responsible for ensuring their future,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “As we work to support a strong and sustainable forest sector, FESBC has played a pivotal role in helping get more fibre that would have previously gone to waste into the hands of mills across B.C. to be processed into usable products. These initiatives help get more value out of every tree, increase wildfire resilience and lower greenhouse gas emissions, all while supporting the hard-working people and businesses that make up our forestry sector.”

Cathy Craig, CEO of NorthPac, highlighted the importance of FESBC’s support. “The Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s funding is crucial for NorthPac and our partners. Without it, we would not be able to economically move a significant portion of the wood fibre in the forest due to challenges such as the long distances to haul logs and low-value fibre. For instance, some blocks – or forest areas – consist of over 50 percent pulp, a lower-value wood fibre unsuitable for making more valuable products. The Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s financial support has helped us not leave this material behind to be burned, ensuring its more efficient utilization.”

Northwest B.C.’s forests are a testament to the region’s diversity, ranging from wetter coastal forests to drier areas more prone to wildfire. The absence of major sawmills and the limited presence of significant industry players necessitate innovative approaches to timber utilization. Local mills cannot process all the different species and log sizes in the region’s forests, resulting in a dynamic system of fibre distribution. Timber harvested in the region often follows various routes, including being supplied to local mills, transportation to the lower mainland and for export to other parts of the world.

Since partnering with FESBC, NorthPac has transported over 150,000 cubic metres of pulp logs and wood waste for utilization, significantly reducing carbon emissions that would have resulted from burning. Of the total transported material, a substantial portion of this fibre went to pulp mills in the lower mainland in the form of pulp logs and wood chips. Some of the material has gone to Drax to make wood pellets, and a small amount was used to produce squared-off logs, or cants, in Houston, B.C. Most recently, some of the wood chips were sent from Terrace to the Canfor pulp mill in Prince George via rail.

Andrew Burke, Director of Business Development with NorthPac, noted, “If this material had been burned as logging waste, it would have emitted upwards of 200,000 tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to the CO2 emissions produced by 61,273 vehicles in a year*.” 

The FESBC-funded projects have not only contributed to environmental sustainability but have also significantly benefitted the economy. Approximately 4,350 full-time equivalent days of employment have been supported, creating new job opportunities, and driving local economic growth.

Moreover, these projects are immensely important for Indigenous communities in the region.

Kelly Sampson, director of Coast Tsimshian Resources LP, noted, “The involvement of Indigenous communities in forestry projects is paramount to ensuring sustainable development and economic empowerment. Through collaboration with NorthPac and FESBC, we are strengthening our stewardship of the land while creating opportunities for meaningful participation and benefits for our people.”

Indigenous involvement and benefits are integral components of forestry operations in Northwest B.C. For example, CTR, owned by the Lax Kw’alaams Band, is the largest licensee in the Terrace area. Additionally, every road permit and cutting permit application undergoes review by the nations whose territory it overlaps, ensuring their input guides the operations.

Calvin Carlick, director of partnership and business development with the Tahltan Nation Development Corporation, said, “Tahltan Forestry recognizes the importance of responsible forestry practices on our territory. Through collaborative efforts with NorthPac and the support of FESBC, we strive to uphold our stewardship responsibilities while creating sustainable economic opportunities for our people. This partnership represents a meaningful step towards ensuring the health and vitality of our forests for generations to come.”

While the Lax Kw’alaams Band and Tahltan Nation are directly involved in the work on two of the projects, NorthPac also works directly with many of the Gitxsan Wilps (House Groups) who receive economic benefits from the logging that takes place on their Lax’yip (territories). Moreover, the Kitsumkalum are indirectly involved as the chips generated from the project are being loaded into rail cars at the Kitsumkalum rail yard.

In addition to benefiting NorthPac’s operations and some of the Indigenous communities in the region, the funding has had a positive impact on the operations of the Terrace Community Forest (TCF), as highlighted by Kim Haworth, RPF, General Manager of the community forest. Haworth noted, “The project, as I understand it, was for chipping the small diameter log that usually ended up in our burn piles. This was a desirable log for the chipping program and allowed Terrace Community Forest to increase utilization while reducing the size of our waste piles and carbon emissions by approximately 50 per cent.”

The ripple effect created through the funding has also resulted in employment opportunities for TCF’s logging crew and supervisor, contributing to local economic development. While specific numbers for employment created were not available, it was estimated to be in the neighbourhood of 150 days. Haworth further emphasized the importance of continuing such programs to further reduce wood waste, increase utilization, and create employment opportunities for the community forest.

Chris McGourlick, operations manager with FESBC, acknowledged Northpac’s initiative in fibre utilization and said, “Northpac has taken a leadership role in helping facilitate the utilization of fibre in the Skeena area. Their successful collaboration with their First Nation partners and local tenure holders is helping find new outlets to address the limited options available for low value and residual fibre. These new options help reduce greenhouse gas emissions through pile burning, provide a stabilizing influence for the local workforce and economy and maximize the utilization of our forest resources.”

As NorthPac navigates the complexities of forestry in Northwest B.C., Burke shared that an ongoing challenge was addressing more common misconceptions, especially the ones troubling recreation users. Burke believes it’s important for people to understand there are a set of higher-level plans that govern land use. These plans include the Kalum Sustainable Resource Management Plan, Kispiox Land & Resource Management Plan (LRMP), and Cassiar Iskut-Stikine LRMP, among others. There are also a few First Nations-developed Land Use Plans (LUP), such as the Gitanyow LUP that NorthPac follows.

“The important message here is that before companies even step foot in the forest to identify potential harvest areas, there are already a host of protections in place, such as Old Growth Management Areas, wildlife habitat areas, and protected scenic areas with Visual Quality Objectives,” noted Burke. This is in addition to the wonderful parks in the area that can never be harvested, such as Seven Sisters Provincial Park and Protected Area, Swan Lake / Kispiox River Provincial Park, and Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park, to name a few.”

According to Burke, it is also important for recreational users to understand the immense contributions made by forestry to the infrastructure development in B.C. through its contributions to building and maintaining the province’s extensive road and bridge network.

“Each year, we spend millions of dollars on infrastructure development and maintenance activities, such as plowing snow, grading roads, and repairing bridges. This infrastructure enables public access to recreational areas for activities like hiking, camping, mountain biking, fishing, and hunting. The industry’s substantial investment in infrastructure upkeep enhances public accessibility,” Burke asserted.

Today, NorthPac, which owns a licence in the Kispiox timber supply area, and jointly manages licenses owned by the Lax Kw’alaams Band, Tahltan Nation Development Corporation, and Haisla Nation (a combined annual allowable cut exceeding 1,000,000 cubic metres), remains committed to sustainable forest management and maximizing fibre utilization. This commitment is more attainable with the support of strategic funding from FESBC, despite the numerous challenges inherent to forestry operations in Northwest B.C.

* Per the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator: https://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/corporate/statistics/neud/dpa/calculator/ghg-calculator.cfm#results

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Executive Director’s Newsletter March 2024

We have developed this monthly newsletter to curate the good news stories we share throughout the province featuring FESBC-funded projects which are generating excellent economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Stories are shared in collaboration with our project partners to highlight the exceptional work happening in our forests to reduce wildfire riskenhance wildlife habitattake action on climate change, and more.

Read this month’s Executive Director’s Newsletter.

Subscribe to receive the latest newsletter in your inbox every month!

Find out more about the 42 Newly Funded Projects announcement through this video

Ntityix Resources LP Enhances Wildfire Mitigation Work in West Kelowna

West Kelowna, B.C. – Given the increasing number and severity of wildfires around the Interior of British Columbia over the last couple of years,Ntityix Resources LP (Ntityix), fully owned by Westbank First Nation (WFN), has been busy working to proactively reduce wildfire risk in the West Kelowna area. With funding support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), Ntityix has successfully undertaken various initiatives around the community, specific to this wildfire mitigation work. The work itself contributes to a long-term mitigation strategy being undertaken to enhance the fuel modification zone, which will help slow down and, ideally, prevent the spread of wildfires in the area.

“The continued revitalization of cultural and prescribed fire helps to create healthy, safe and resilient forests, and I applaud Ntityix and the Westbank First Nation for continuing to take on wildfire risk reduction projects year after year, including working with the Province last year on prescribed burns,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “With support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, Ntityix’s fire prevention initiatives are better protecting the homes, businesses, and communities of West Kelowna, all while creating good, local job opportunities.”

The funding has helped Ntityix complete wildfire risk reduction projects, treating around 300 hectares around the communities of West Kelowna and Peachland in the Okanagan Region over the past ten or so years. This work has far-reaching impacts on not just reducing the risk of wildfire to these communities but by way of employment opportunities, building capacity within Ntityix with both fire mitigation and suppression activities, and developing confidence to re-introduce fire to the ecosystem through prescribed burns.

“Ntityix Resources LP and the Westbank First Nation believe the residents within the communities of West Kelowna and Peachland are supremely grateful for the funding provided by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC to carry out this work in the past and now into the future,” expressed Jordan Coble, Councillor with WFN and President of Ntityix.

Some of the wildfire risk reduction projects have included various approaches incorporating hand treatments, especially in delicate areas near residential backyards, as well as selective harvesting practices, which involve forest workers removing smaller trees while preserving larger ones.

“FESBC appreciates the leadership shown by Ntityix and the Westbank First Nation in reducing the wildfire risk to the residents located in and near West Kelowna and Peachland,” said Gord Pratt, senior manager with FESBC. “We are glad our funding can assist Ntityix in completing this important work in collaboration with all the other FireSmart activities being done by these communities.”

Last year, with the help of BC Wildfire Services (BCWS), Ntityix conducted their first cultural prescribed burn in an area just east of Kelowna. The burn was focused on grasslands and some open forests that had not had a fire go through the area in several decades. The prescribed burn helped to reinvigorate the grassland area and reduce the amount of surface fuels, or excess wood and debris, in the open forest area.

“In Fall 2024, with the help of BC Wildfire Service, we are planning a post-harvest controlled burn on areas where we have recently completed some harvesting work,” explained Dave Gill, RPF and general manager of forestry at Ntityix. “This will be a more ‘surgical’ burn versus the broadcast, or more widespread, burning of the past. This work will reduce surface fuels in areas that are within 5 kilometres of the community.”

Ntityix has also started to conduct fuel mitigation at the landscape level by identifying fuel management corridors across the landscape within WFN forest tenures to conduct fuel modification treatments.

“West Kelowna Fire Rescue, the City of West Kelowna, and Westbank First Nation are grateful for the ongoing funding provided by the Forest Enhancement Society of BC. I look forward to continuing to be involved and offer the ongoing support of our Fire Rescue team to participate in future projects,” added West Kelowna Fire Chief, Jason Brolund.

This proactive mitigation work provides local contractors and WFN members employment opportunities within the forest industry to help with good forest management. Ntityix has been able to build a permanent work crew based out of West Kelowna who work year-round on fuel mitigation, pre-commercial thinning, pruning, and wildfire suppression projects.

“Our forestry crew consists of permanent positions with full benefits, vacation time, and personal days. They have career goals, undergo cross-training with other aspects of our business, and some are considering furthering their education in forestry or taking on new roles within our company,” said Gill. “The funding also enables us to recruit Westbank First Nation community members who may be curious about entering a career in forestry, exposing them to other aspects of our work, and providing them with a full-time income as they start their career.”

Last summer, the MacDougall Creek wildfire tested the effectiveness of some of the wildfire risk reduction work undertaken by Ntityix in 2015. The extensive 13,500-hectare wildfire, with 8,000 hectares falling within WFN’s Community Forest, underscored the invaluable benefits of prior fire mitigation work in the area. While it is challenging to precisely measure the impact of these efforts on the fire’s size, it is evident that they played a crucial role in safeguarding residential areas, highlighting the collective responsibility in mitigating wildfire risks.

“Last summer’s wildfires showed that fuel mitigation on Crown land adjacent to communities is only one piece of the puzzle. Crews shared that because of this work, they could fight the fire on the ground and didn’t have to leave when the fire approached. They also noted a need for FireSmart work where homeowners take precautionary steps to reduce wildfire risk to their homes and properties and use appropriate fire-resistant landscaping,” expressed Gill. “Wildfire risk reduction requires the involvement of all levels of government, First Nations, affected stakeholders, and home/property owners have a very important role to play in this as well.”

Through FireSmart, private landowners who live in proximity to forested land can take ownership of preparing and maintaining their homes and properties to decrease the risk of damage due to wildfire. Additionally, when the public is out in forested areas for recreation, they need to be aware of fire hazards, campfire bans, and participating in activities such as motorized recreation or cutting firewood.

“West Kelowna sits at the centre of wildfire risk and response in the province of British Columbia. Over the past number of years, we have learned we can reduce the damage from wildfires through wildfire mitigation work we can do and the adoption of the FireSmart principles by the public,” emphasized Brolund. “We are fortunate to have great partners at Westbank First Nation and Ntityix Resources LP who are committed to taking care of their community forest which surrounds our community of West Kelowna.”

In the long term, Gill shared that more emphasis must be placed on good forest management practices in fire-dominated ecosystems at the landscape level to address the buildup of surface fuels and the density of forests.

“The work we are doing is time-consuming and expensive, and without ongoing funding from FESBC, much of this work would not have been done, and likely many more homes would have been lost to wildfires,” said Gill. “We intend to expand the areas we’ve treated outwards and away from the communities to provide for a wider buffer between the community and the untreated forest. Ongoing and future funding from FESBC will be critical to allow for this ring of protection to be expanded, maintained, and re-enforced in the longer term.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Executive Director’s Newsletter February 2024

We have developed this monthly newsletter to curate the good news stories we share throughout the province featuring FESBC-funded projects which are generating excellent economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Stories are shared in collaboration with our project partners to highlight the exceptional work happening in our forests to reduce wildfire riskenhance wildlife habitattake action on climate change, and more.

Read this month’s Executive Director’s Newsletter.

Subscribe to receive the latest newsletter in your inbox every month!

Find out more about the 42 Newly Funded Projects announcement through this video

Osoyoos Indian Band and Mercer Celgar Work Together to Enhance the Use of “Waste Wood”

Oliver, B.C. – Aligning with the provincial government’s goal to decrease the burning of slash piles and increase the utilization of wood fibre that has traditionally been wasted, the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) and Mercer Celgar (Celgar) are collaborating to rethink conventional practices. With funding from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), the collaboration is helping recover as much uneconomical residual fibre as possible from the OIB’s traditional territory.

This collaborative project is a strategic effort to capture all low value fibre that typically wouldn’t make its way to sawmills and was not economically feasible for non-sawlog products. For example, some of the fibre captured through this project will produce wood chips, and the material not suitable as chips will be used in a product called hog fuel, which will be used to generate electricity. Some of the residual fibre will be chipped in Midway and then sent to the Mercer pulp mill in Castlegar. 

“Initiatives like this help ensure the long-term health of B.C.’s forestry sector, and the families and communities it supports,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “By making paper and wood chips from trees that previously would have gone to waste or acted as wildfire fuel, the Osoyoos Indian Band and Mercer Celgar are helping get more value out of every tree harvested while also making our forests more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

The project’s primary goal is to promote diversification and innovation within the supply chain to utilize uneconomical fibre that would typically go unused. By doing so, the collaboration seeks to reduce emissions from slash pile burning, normalize the higher levels of residual fibre utilization, and strengthen reconciliation efforts through collaboration.

Mills have long been adept at utilizing various types of residual fibres to create different products, but this project takes things a step further. To maximize fibre utilization, funding from FESBC is incentivizing tenure holders, excluding BC Timber Sales, and contractors to now consider forest stands that were historically deemed economically unviable to harvest. Celgar and the OIB are looking to examine the difference in cost between harvesting and selling pulp logs – a lower-value log that generally can only be used to create pulp for various products, including paper, tissue, and food packaging and to determine how operations can be modified to bridge the divide. By working together, they’re developing a cost model to help address the recovery of uneconomic fibre, ensuring this wood can be delivered to non-sawlog facilities, in essence, making sure it doesn’t go to waste.

According to Chris Longmore, Manager, Fibre Procurement, with Celgar, FESBC funding has gone towards utilization and rehabilitation from at least seven wildfire-impacted areas spread across the Arrow, Boundary, Okanagan, Kootenay, Revelstoke, and Golden timber supply areas, including the Octopus Creek wildfire which burned more than 22,000 hectares of forest and the Michaud Creek fire, which burned over 14,000 hectares of forest. To date, over 26,000 cubic metres of burnt logging residue has been recovered, loaded on a logging truck, and shipped to the Mercer Celgar facility in Castlegar rather than into a waste pile. That volume will continue to grow in 2024 as efforts continue to focus on utilizing fibre from burnt stands fibre.

“The financial support from FESBC has played a crucial role in bringing together project partners, particularly First Nations, to embark on this transformative journey. This funding highlights the importance of collective efforts in redefining forest management practices and sets the stage for a more sustainable future,” said Longmore.

The collaboration between Celgar and OIB with FESBC funding is helping to raise the bar for higher levels of fibre utilization, mitigating the impacts of climate change by reducing emissions from slash burning      and working in collaboration with First Nations.

According to FESBC Operations Manager Brian Watson, “This program not only provides opportunities for the logging community that is supplying the logs to the Celgar pulp mill, logs that would be burned, but the program is meaningfully reducing carbon emissions associated with the changed behaviour. By creating a wood product, approximately 64,000 tonnes of carbon entering the atmosphere will be avoided. This is the same emissions that 13,800 mid-sized vehicles would produce in 1 year.”

Revelstoke has seen a direct benefit, with $230,000 coming into the community as payment for the use of the Revelstoke Community Forest Corporation log yard for this project. Many other communities in the southern interior are also indirectly receiving an infusion into their economy from this project through the logging community and the businesses that service them.

Currently, the project is 65 per cent complete, and even upon completion, according to Longmore, Celgar will continue to maximize the recovery and utilization of uneconomical fibre while reducing carbon emissions via collaboration with land tenure holders and their logging workforce in the southern interior. This change in culture to continue to pursue full forest utilization sets the stage for a lasting positive impact for both the forest industry and the environment.

Dan Macmaster, Forest Manager at the OIB, highlighted the significance of sustainable resource use for the OIB, stating, “Fibre utilization through proper forest management results in less burning of debris piles, cleaner air and waterways, and financial benefits from processing pulp volume that would normally be left behind. FESBC has provided the funding to help local contractors haul this volume over long distances to the Celgar mill, creating jobs, incentivizing fuel mitigation projects, and adding value to pulp fibre that would otherwise be burned.”

As the project aims to haul approximately 128,000 m3 by March 31, 2024, efforts will continue well into the future to maximize the recovery and utilization of uneconomical fibre.

“Managing the larger landscape for wildfire risk reduction, climate change adaptations, and mitigating insect infestations is critical to the OIB,” shared Macmaster. “This FESBC project has provided the means to meet numerous management objectives on our traditional lands.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Executive Director’s Newsletter January 2024

We have developed this monthly newsletter to curate the good news stories we share throughout the province featuring FESBC-funded projects which are generating excellent economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Stories are shared in collaboration with our project partners to highlight the exceptional work happening in our forests to reduce wildfire riskenhance wildlife habitattake action on climate change, and more.

Read this month’s Executive Director’s Newsletter.

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Find out more about the 42 Newly Funded Projects announcement through this video

Faces of Forestry: Dave Peterson, Board Chair

Faces of Forestry is an initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. In this month’s Faces of Forestry, we are featuring a Face of FESBC to highlight one of the exceptional individuals on our Board of Directors who helps guide our organization toward impactful change.

This month, we feature Dave Peterson, FESBC’s Board Chair and a veteran with over 50 years of experience in the forestry sector. Growing up in a small logging community on Vancouver Island, he quickly developed a strong connection to forestry that has since shaped his life’s work.

With a robust career serving as President of the Cariboo Lumber Manufacturers Association and holding senior positions such as the Chief Forester for BC, Dave’s strong presence and strategic orientation have allowed him to become a leader in the forestry industry.

Dave was an Assistant Deputy Minister within the Ministry of Forests when the idea of FESBC was first raised within the government. His commitment and leadership were instrumental in the development of the concept, leading to the formation and funding of FESBC in 2016. Since then, Dave has remained an integral part of the Board of Directors, helping steer the organization toward its mission to create healthier and more productive forests for the future.

In his role as Board Chair, Dave’s primary responsibility is to ensure the effective operation of the Board of Directors as a cohesive unit. His dedication to his fellow Board members reflects a profound sense of loyalty and commitment to FESBC and the entire team.

“I have been with FESBC since its inception and I am extremely proud of the work we have performed since then,” he said. “I am really excited about the innovations FESBC is supporting where our proponents are delivering projects focused on wildfire risk reduction while also addressing complimentary objectives such as wildlife habitat enhancement and utilization of wood fibre that would normally go to waste.”

Dave also emphasized the global significance of forests in British Columbia, both in the quality of sustainable wood products that can come from them and in the multiple values they support, including wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and Indigenous values.

“We have a global responsibility to work together to ensure our forests can deliver all of those values for future generations,” he added.

Looking ahead, Dave envisions forests in the province gaining an even greater importance, and underscores the need for continued innovation in forest management and enhancement. As he explained, FESBC remains dedicated to supporting such advancements to ensure the long-term health and vitality of forests.

Beyond his involvement with FESBC, Dave is especially passionate about his role on the Board of Directors of the Caravan Farm Theatre Society, a unique outdoor-based theatre production with over 40 years of operating in the North Okanagan.

Without a doubt, Dave’s journey is one of leadership, commitment, and a deep passion for the forest sector. His involvement with FESBC for so many years has been pivotal in shaping it into an organization that is now at the forefront of environmental stewardship.

Thank you, Dave, for your invaluable contributions to FESBC and your continuous efforts to safeguard British Columbia’s environment, wildlife, forest health, and communities for years to come.

FESBC Board Chair Dave Peterson to Address Urgent Wildfire Concerns at the Truck Loggers Association Convention and the Role of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC

In a bid to highlight and address the challenges posed by escalating wildfire frequency in British Columbia, Dave Peterson, Board Chair of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC), will be part of a distinguished panel at the Truck Loggers Association (TLA) Convention held in Vancouver from January 17 to 19. The panel will explore the crucial question: “With B.C.’s escalating wildfire frequency in recent years, is it imperative to ask if we can be doing better at risk mitigating and identify the requirements to make that happen?”

Graphic Credit: Truck Loggers Association LinkedIn

Expressing his anticipation for the event, Peterson emphasized the urgency of reassessing and enhancing current wildfire management strategies.

“I am very thankful that the Truck Loggers Association chose to include this panel and topic in the agenda for their annual convention; the urgency of improving our wildfire risk reduction strategies can not be overstated, and this platform provides an excellent opportunity to deliver that message to a wide audience. I am also very thankful that the TLA chose to include me, representing the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, in this panel,” said Peterson.

With a robust career that has included serving as the Chief Forester for the Province of BC and as the President of the Cariboo Lumber Manufacturer’s Association, as well as holding several other senior positions in the forest industry, Peterson brings a wealth of practical experience and industry knowledge to the discussion. Given Peterson’s extensive and distinguished background in forestry, his perspectives during the TLA panel discussion will offer a comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand through the lens of a forestry professional steeped in forestry.

During the panel discussion, Peterson will provide a comprehensive overview of the FESBC’s pivotal role in addressing the escalating wildfire crisis. Known for its commitment to projects focused on wildfire risk reduction and fibre utilization by incorporating sustainable practices, FESBC has been at the forefront of funding projects throughout the province that manage the changing dynamics of wildfires. Peterson will share more about FESBC’s funded projects, exploring an overall potential for improvement and adaptation in the face of evolving challenges posed by climate change.

“I am very proud of the key, unique role that FESBC plays in wildfire risk reduction and believe it is important to communicate that role more broadly. My focus will be on describing the unique role of FESBC in risk reduction and its critical importance in helping B.C. pave the way for a more resilient and sustainable future in the midst of changing climate dynamics and human interaction with our forests,” Peterson added.

Peterson will also be highlighting FESBC’s ongoing efforts to navigate the intricate relationship between climate change, fire intensity, and the evolving human connection with forests. The society is strategically positioned to continue to play a crucial role in raising awareness while funding projects that work to address some of the causes of escalating wildfire incidents in the province.

Visit the FESBC website to get more insights into the work being done by FESBC and its project partners: www.fesbc.ca