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.

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

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

Executive Director’s Newsletter December 2023

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

Faces of Forestry: Greg Kilba

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 Greg Kilba, Division Manager, Portable Wood Processing and Log Buyer at Arrow Transportation Systems Ltd.

Guided by conversations with his grandad during his youth, Greg found his passion for forestry rooted in the numerous opportunities the field offered.

“There were a lot of pros, such as being able to work outside, learning about the diversity of our forests, understanding how our ecosystems work,” said Greg. “That seed that was planted in my brain at a young age grew and branched out. Over my career, I have luckily been able to learn many of the different aspects of Forestry.”

His early exposure to chainsaw operation and equipment handling in high school further helped set the foundation for essential skills and a profound appreciation for the dynamics of the forestry industry.

After graduating, Greg immersed himself in the industry, saving money by working on a logging show. His passion for forestry eventually led him to enroll in the Natural Resource Science Program in Kamloops, allowing him to continue his job as a young manager in silviculture while simultaneously studying.

At the age of 25, Greg’s curiosity and innovative nature led him to work as a forestry consultant for Weyerhaeuser and the Ministry of Forests, where one of his contracts was burning slash piles.

“I often thought that there had to be a way to harness the energy that was released when lighting a waste pile. It was therefore, a natural fit for me when I heard that they were grinding piles to generate hog fuel that could produce electricity,” he explained.

Currently, Greg manages Arrow’s grinding program in Kamloops and Fort St. James and purchases biomass logs for the grinder and chip plants. Within this role, he actively meets with many forest licensees to collectively work on agreements to utilize fibre that historically was burnt, striving to find the most economical ways of getting the low-value fibre to end users such as Kruger, BioNorth and Drax.

Over the years, he has developed numerous proposals with FESBC, collaborating on projects that have created new well-paying jobs to support the local economy, promoted renewable energy, and minimized environmental impacts.

“FESBC is like no other forestry program that I have been involved in as the funding is incrementally based and a very high percentage of the biomass fibre is paid for by industry. This assistance has allowed us to utilize fibre that was just outside of industries’ economic reach,” noted Greg.

Throughout his career, Greg has appreciated the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals who strive to turn challenges into opportunities.

“I have enjoyed working with people that share similar interests and understanding about how diverse forests are and the importance of caring for this renewable resource.”

In the face of media attention that often focuses on challenges in forestry, Greg underscores the industry’s dedication to sustainable practices. He emphasizes how, since the mountain pine beetle epidemic, the industry has found ways to utilize fibre that would have otherwise been burnt, contributing to the production of lumber, pulp and paper products, and biomass energy.

Thank you, Greg, for your dedication to environmental stewardship and innovative solutions for waste pile energy. Your tireless efforts are undoubtedly shaping a sustainable future of our forests.

How the Province’s Largest Community Forest is Building Community Resilience to Wildfire in Rural B.C.

Fort Nelson, B.C. – In a bid to safeguard their community from the escalating threat of wildfires, British Columbia’s largest community forest is proactively undertaking wildfire risk reduction work with support from Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding. The Fort Nelson Community Forest Fuel Treatment Project, set against the backdrop of remote wilderness, is a testament to the power of collaboration and determination and represents a remarkable opportunity for growth, local capacity building, and economic empowerment.

In a collaborative move, the Fort Nelson Community Forest (FNCF) was formed when the largest community forest license in the province was awarded to the Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) and Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM) partnership. The partnership between the FNFN and NRRM represents not only the largest community forest license in British Columbia but also yields the most substantial harvestable volume. Considering the remote and expansiveness of the area covered by the license, this means there is a tremendous responsibility for the FNCF, one which they are prepared to undertake.

“The Fort Nelson Community Forest, like others throughout B.C., supports long-term opportunities and contributes to a more diversified forest economy,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “As the keepers of B.C.’s biggest community forest, it’s great to see the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and the Fort Nelson First Nation collaborate on this project to better protect their homes, schools, businesses and the surrounding forests that are the lifeblood of their remote communities.”

The FESBC-funded FNCF Fuel Treatment Project is set to address a 20-hectare expanse of forest,  roughly the size of 37 football fields, along the southwest side of the Alaska Highway. By creating a shaded fuel break using mechanical treatments, which means clearing and reducing the growth of plants and trees in the area using machines or equipment, the project aims to slow wildfire spread, enhance suppression efforts and firefighter safety, reduce the risk of a wildfire spreading up into the crown or tops of trees, and maintain vital evacuation routes for public safety, such as Highway 97.

Acknowledging the importance of funding and support, the FNCF highlighted the significance of FESBC funding to help develop their capacity, particularly as they continue to establish themselves.

Katherine Wolfenden, the board chair of the FNFC, said, “Our community forest partnership is excited to have been selected for funding from FESBC. This project will help the local community have more control over where and how firebreaks and selective reduction of high-risk areas occur next to the community. As a new and developing community forest, this project is helping us implement one of our guiding management goals to support and invest in community wildfire prevention initiatives.”

Echoing Wolfenden’s statement, Ben Wall, the general manager of the FNCF, also noted the importance of FESBC funding.

“Adequate funding and support are essential to the success of the community forest. Funding is required to continue the research, planning, and monitoring of the forest, the use of qualified and experienced professionals as well as continuing to promote local engagement. The FESBC funding is of the utmost importance for this project as it will help us develop capacity. With the Fort Nelson Community Forest still working on getting firmly established and viable, help with funding like this is critical,” said Wall.

This project, however, means so much more to the community and the forest than simply reducing wildfire risk. The collaboration between the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, Fort Nelson First Nation, and other stakeholders will promote forest sustainability through wildlife habitat preservation, timber harvesting, wildfire mitigation efforts, and recreational opportunities. 

FESBC Senior Manager Gord Pratt said, “FESBC is excited to be able to support the Fort Nelson Community Forest early in their existence on such an important project reducing the local wildfire risk to the community, improving wildlife habitat and building local capacity in the forest sector.”

According to Matt Pilszek, RFT, Forestry and Construction Manager with Geoterra, the fuel mitigation project will have wildlife enhancement objectives in mind throughout the treatment, with a specific focus on protecting and enhancing the Boreal caribou ungulate winter range. The fuel mitigation treatment will reduce the accumulation of flammable vegetation and deadwood, which helps reduce the risk of large, destructive wildfires detrimental to wildlife habitat. Preserving the winter range from being impacted by wildfires ensures that caribou and other ungulates have access to the habitat they need during the critical winter months.

“Fuel mitigation through selective thinning of trees can help preserve and restore the natural vegetation and forest structure within the Boreal caribou ungulate winter range. This is important because these animals rely on specific types of vegetation for food and shelter during the winter. Selective thinning techniques can promote the growth of new vegetation in the understory (the layer of vegetation that grows beneath the forest canopy, consisting of smaller plants, shrubs, and young trees) while maintaining habitat connectivity within the landscape,” said Pilszek.

The fuel mitigation project will also support the Fort Nelson community by building local capacity and contributing to the region’s economy through job creation, community involvement, revenue generation, increased resilience to wildfires, and sustainable resource management. The fuel mitigation project will utilize local businesses, including forestry contractors, equipment operators, local First Nations land guardians, and service providers, which will stimulate the local economy and provide more work to these contractors.

“The selective thinning process will provide sustainable forest management to ensure that local forest resources are managed in a way that provides economic benefits while preserving the environment for future generations in Fort Nelson,” said Wall. Prior to the commencement of the fuel mitigation project, the FNCF actively engaged with the local community. They hosted an open house and secured approval from the FNFN through the Land Management Framework, a plan for how to use and take care of the land.

According to Wall and Pilszek, as this project gets underway, the community forest is planning to host another open house to get feedback from the community to understand if there is a desire to expand this type of treatment to other areas around the community.

“Often, the main concern about a project like this is there can be resistance and disagreement with what is being implemented and how it is being done. However, the community forest has engaged with all stakeholders within and around the project in a way that avoids interruptions. The snowmobile club, for example, has been very supportive and flexible in our discussions, and we have worked on a plan to mitigate any impact we might have on their activities. We intend to improve trail access in whatever way we can as we continue to work on this project and others in the future,” added Wall.

The FNCF is working with the local forest industry to grow the forest industry in Fort Nelson.  As harvesting activity increases, the FNCF will be  better positioned to self-fund projects. For example, the community forest harvested a significant amount of wood in 2021, approximately 30,000 cubic metres of wood, which is roughly equivalent to filling 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. They anticipate harvesting approximately 23,000 cubic metres during the 2023 winter harvest.

In addition to harvesting, the community forest is focused on a comprehensive and holistic land management plan and is working toward reforestation in identified areas.

“Last year, Geoterra supervised the Fort Nelson Community Forest Tree Planting Program, exceeding minimum quality standards by planting 226,440 trees. Planting densities adhered to wildfire guidelines, with 1,600 stems, or trees, per hectare outside the Wildland Urban Interface (a zone where human development and natural landscapes come into contact) and 800 stems per hectare within the Wildland Urban Interface,” said Pilszek.

The community forest recognizes a need to build capacity significantly to maximize the forest value to the partner communities. They are currently developing projects that have a higher percentage of merchantable timber that can be used to offset the costs of the work, and the hope is to be able to self-fund forest management activities from the sale of the lumber and wood fibre to a small local manufacturing entity in the future.

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

Executive Director’s Newsletter November 2023

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

Executive Director’s Newsletter October 2023

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

Constraints to Forestry Innovation as featured in Truck Logger BC

In the Fall 2023 issue of the Truck Logger BC Magazine, Jean Sorensen examines innovation in forestry and what is holding it back, in an article featuring various industry experts, including the Forest Enhancement Society of BC’s (FESBC) Executive Director, Steve Kozuki.

The article, titled “Constraints to Forestry Innovation”, discusses innovation in B.C’s forestry sector and its importance to stay competitive, especially against larger manufacturers. It also emphasizes the need for a supportive business environment and policy stability to encourage innovation.

The forestry industry in BC is facing challenges related to fibre supply uncertainty, which affects the adoption of new technologies and investments. Companies are exploring innovations like LiDAR inventory mapping, the use of drones, and remote-controlled equipment. These innovations are seen as essential, and the article explores their feasibility in the current climate.

In the article,

FESBC Executive Director Steve Kozuki said over the past five years they have funded the utilization of five million cubic metres or roughly 100,000 truckloads of post-harvest residuals that would have been abandoned or burned.

Those five years brought a legacy of operating data. Logging contractors have tried whole log (pulp or biolog) sorts, chipping or grinding fibre at the roadside or landing, baling slash (but it still has a lot of air and costs to transport), central reload sites and sort yards, and barging from the mid and north coast. According to Kozuki, each method has pros and cons and trade-offs, but most contractors favoured transport of fibre in log form or chip/grind in the bush.

Watch the FESBC announcement of the 42 Newly Funded Forest Enhancement Projects in B.C.

Kamloops, B.C.: In January 2023, the Government of BC announced it would provide $50 million in new funding to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to assist with the delivery of uneconomic forest fibre and to assist communities to reduce their wildfire risk.

On September 12, 2023, FESBC announced 42 newly funded projects valued at $34 million dollars. Watch this video to learn more from funded project partners like Simpcw Resources Group, Arrow Transportation Systems Inc. and Kruger Inc.

Watch the video, where Minister of Forests, Bruce Ralston, talks about the funding, and the work undertaken by FESBC, as well as get a glimpse into the announcement event held on September 12:

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

Executive Director’s Newsletter September 2023

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 FESBC 2022 Accomplishments Report through this video.