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:

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.

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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.

A Local Interior First Nation Takes the Lead to Add Value to Low-Value Wood Fibre

Skeetchestn Indian Band and Industry Partners Working Together

Kamloops, B.C. – Within the vast landscape of British Columbia, an Interior First Nation is taking the lead to demonstrate the importance of forest rehabilitation and utilization aligned with First Nation values at the forefront. The Skeetchestn Indian Band (SIB), through Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corporation (SNRC), is taking the lead to deliver on sustainable forestry practices with a practical approach to the enhanced utilization of low-value wood waste. In a collaborative effort with funding support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) and operations expertise by Arrow Transportation Systems Inc. (Arrow), SNRC is showing the forestry sector the value of using every part of the tree in its operations.

Utilizing waste wood instead of pile burning it, thus reducing carbon emissions. Photo credit: Arrow.

Kúkpi7 Darrell Draney of the Skeetchestn Indian Band noted how the project aligns with the values of Indigenous Peoples. “For thousands of years, First Nations sought to discover ways to live with the land as equals. Skeetchestn sees this project as a successful way to uphold this long-held practice. We’ve always known and acknowledged that our relationship with the land is reciprocal. This land does not belong to us – we belong to the land.”

The SNRC-led project showcases a practical solution for the economic utilization of slash piles typically left after harvesting and burned. As a part of this project, Arrow successfully ground over 25,000 cubic metres of fire-affected wood, which is equivalent to over 450 truckloads of wood fibre, working closely with First Nation members, local woodlot owners, and ranchers to ensure project success.

“I applaud the Skeetchestn Indian Band, Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corporation, and the Forest Enhancement Society of BC for their leadership in reducing forest waste in B.C.’s forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minster of Forests. “Projects like this help conserve vital ecosystems, increase wildfire resilience, lower greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting the people and businesses that make up this vital and thriving community.”

According to Greg Kilba, Division Manager with Arrow, the collaboration with the SNRC, Kruger, woodlot owners, local ranchers, government entities, industry partners, and FESBC has proven necessary to ensure projects of this nature are economically viable. The collective effort has not only generated well-paying employment opportunities for local people but has also established a more sustainable source of green energy by repurposing the slash piles.

“The convergence of these diverse collaborators with a shared objective to optimize the utilization of waste wood has fundamentally changed how forest managers look at slash piles, emphasizing a more resourceful approach,” noted Kilba, adding that Arrow’s values are closely aligned with those of SIB to foster a relationship built on shared principles of environmental stewardship, sustainable resource management, and community well-being.

Kilba also noted that both Arrow and the SNRC prioritize responsible forest practices, recognizing the importance of preserving ecosystems and respecting Indigenous values.

“The alignment of these values establishes a strong foundation for collaboration, ensuring Arrow’s operations are conducted in harmony with the Skeetchestn Indian Band’s cultural and environmental priorities. The funding provided by FESBC plays a crucial role in helping facilitate this alignment. By supporting projects that prioritize sustainable forestry, wildlife habitat restoration, and reduce wildfire risk, FESBC funding has enabled both Arrow and the Skeetchestn Indian Band to work together effectively, promoting shared values and contributing to the overall ecological health of the region.”   

Bringing the project together was not without its challenges, noted Mike Anderson, advisor and negotiator for SNRC. The SIB has advocated for years, insisting that the wood ‘waste’ be fully utilized. Their persistence was rewarded when the Provincial government agreed to help support the needs of the pulpwood industry, ensuring they were in alignment with the government’s legislation and policy around waste removal.

Gord Pratt, FESBC’s senior manager, said, “This project is proudly supported by FESBC. With Skeetchestn Natural Resources Corporation working collaboratively with Arrow and Kruger, we are seeing multiple benefits, including increased fibre utilization and improved wildlife habitat, resulting in healthier forest stands for everyone who values our forests across B.C.”

The SIB sees the project and its success as important for a couple of reasons. First, they don’t want to see wood fibre within their territory wasted or contributing to air pollution by being burned. Second, they are of the belief that if a tree is harvested, it should be fully utilized either on-site as a sawlog and wood chips or remain in the forest to contribute to wildlife habitat and soil-building processes. Skeetchestn band members recognize trees as their relatives, and as such, it is disrespectful to not utilize the full tree.

“There is still work to be done to help us more quickly and efficiently facilitate the utilization of wood fibre in our Territory,” said Anderson. “This project is a good start.”

The project area is located near Leighton Lake and Tunkwa Lake, where the low-value wood fibre was hauled to the Kruger pulp mill in Kamloops. For Kruger, this project is important as they are interested in continuing to work with First Nations through partnerships and believe that by working together, they can be part of the solution to reduce the wildfire hazard and produce value-added products such as the fibre from this project is utilized in their boiler system to create green energy.

“This whole operation was thought to be economically infeasible until FESBC got involved. However, once FESBC came to the table with their resources, we were able to make the project move ahead, and we ended up utilizing a lot of otherwise waste material,” said Anderson. “We are pleased to see something that was originally thought to be infeasible work out quite well for everyone involved, and we have respectfully utilized the bulk of all the trees that were sacrificed.”

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

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.

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.

Finding Value in Wood Waste

-How two Merritt-based companies are revolutionizing sustainable forest management-

Merritt, B.C. – In a long-standing alliance, a First Nations-owned and operated fibre management company, Stuwix Resources Joint Venture (SRJV) and Valley Carriers, a visionary multi-generational trucking and specialty transportation company, are working together to make better use of leftover forest materials, i.e., forest residuals. With support from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) funding for a Bush Grind Project, the partners aim to turn these residual materials into valuable biomass products, and they’re pushing the boundaries even further with a significant leap forward in a BioHub Pilot Project, dedicated to managing forest resources sustainably.

The BioHub Pilot Project is centred around the transition that the SRJV is now pursuing, changing from the traditional cut-to-length forestry practice to now full-length tree harvesting, moving toward a full tree utilization and zero-waste approach. This is an enormous step in sustainable forestry practices with significant impacts on forestry residue management. A part of this project is bush grinding of the residuals, for which FESBC has provided funding. Through the Bush Grinding project, forest residuals will be ground instead of being left behind and burned in slash piles, helping to reduce waste and avoid greenhouse gas emissions. This ground fibre will be transported to a green energy facility in Merritt. By extending the use of forest residuals, the two companies look to improve the sustainability of forestry practices by being better stewards of the land.

“Projects like this are a significant step towards a stronger and more sustainable B.C. forestry sector, transforming harvest residue that was once considered waste into value,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “This collaboration between Stuwix Resources Joint Venture and Valley Carriers, with support from FESBC, will also help protect communities from wildfire risks by removing residue from the forest floor, thereby removing wildfire fuel.”

SRJV currently manages the Forest Tenure Opportunity Agreement and the non-replaceable forest licenses on behalf of eight First Nations communities in the Nicola Valley. SRJV’s approach to forest management reflects the cultural, environmental, and social values of these First Nations with a vision to promote healthy ecosystems and communities while integrating traditional uses and practices.

Valley Carriers is part of the family-owned and operated Klassen Business Group, which was founded in 1963. They’ve been working with forest residuals for 60 years, and the family of companies produces and distributes both wholesale and retail wood residual-derived products such as mulch and wood shavings.

Together, the organizations exemplify positive collaboration to pursue the common goal of reducing waste and enhancing the utilization of fibre. However, the project was not envisioned in silos, but came about as a result of the community’s desire to see better-managed forests, according to Lindsay Tighe, General Manager of SRJV.

“It’s all community-driven. Our community strongly believes we need to better utilize the resources that the forest provides. Without the partnership with FESBC, we wouldn’t be able to pursue the transition to full fibre utilization. Their support is critical to enable our operations to adapt to this more sustainable approach,” said Tighe.

The Bush Grind Project is part of a Biohub Pilot Project, with an overarching vision to eradicate the age-old practice of underutilizing, piling, and burning forestry residuals but instead offer a sustainable alternative, converting these residuals into valuable resources, such as clean energy sources, including biogases, advanced biofuels, and various end-use products. By utilizing the entire resource, the two partners are not only respecting the resource itself and the land it is from, but they hope to increase the wood fibre supply for the agriculture, bioproduct, and bioenergy sectors that depend on the biomass generated by the forestry sector.

Ben Klassen, CEO of Valley Carriers, said, “The funding from FESBC is integral for the pilot project, as it helps minimize the risks to private businesses and enables creativity in creating a more sustainable industry.”

The BioHub Pilot Project is a partnership between SRJV, Valley Carriers, FP Innovations, and with support from FESBC funding, it serves as a symbol of improved forestry management practices, emphasizing complete stem utilization.

FESBC Senior Manager, Gord Pratt, said, “FESBC is proud to support the initiatives led by Stuwix and Valley Carriers in finding ways to increase the use of forest fibre that has traditionally not been utilized. Exploring new ways to optimize the delivery and use of forest fibre is long overdue and will only help the economy of the Merritt area. Lessons learned here will help other regions of the province and assist in building a more stable and diverse forest industry which is critical for the future of rural B.C.”

 A centralized, sustainable BioHub, capable of handling a broader spectrum of forestry residuals, will help meet the surging demand for wood residuals and biomass. The goal is to create a variety of value-added products for diverse sectors from what was traditionally thought of as wood waste.

“Our BioHub will increase the stream of residuals and help stabilize the supply of wood fibre to support the needs of the agricultural and clean energy sectors. This project is about using every metre of the forest in the most sustainable way,” said Klassen.

The benefits of the work are far-reaching and move beyond the environmental benefits. By transitioning to full-stem utilization and establishing the BioHub, SRJV will create eight jobs, and Valley Carriers will create an additional eight positions in Merritt, B.C. during the various phases of the project. Considering the level of unemployment in the area and the need to diversify, Klassen and Tighe agree that these jobs mean a lot to people in the region.

“This funding allows us to grow our operations and create more employment. The business of recovering under-utilized residuals has allowed our company to maintain steady employment for 25-30 people in Merritt for the last six years, and we are looking to grow with further resource utilization,” said Klassen.

For companies and communities wanting to move toward full fibre utilization, Klassen recommends maintaining their focus. “Even after many years doing this work, we are still trying to find a long-term solution that isn’t just made up of stop-gap funding. We’ve been able to do this for the last half-decade by not relenting on the conversation,” he said.

From the creation of new jobs to local access to renewable energy, decreasing the waste of natural resources and increasing the supply of wood fibre to combat the shortage in the agricultural sector, the project has a vision to move beyond traditional forestry. In addition to these benefits, fully recovering the forest residuals will remove excess materials that can fuel wildfires while also reducing  greenhouse gas emissions associated with burning these materials in the forest.

“We know we have less wood available; now we need to focus on how to use it properly. It’s like water restrictions; when they are in place, sustainable practices and real change starts to happen. We need to be the ‘Arizona’ of forestry; the forestry industry is not going away, but it is our time to pivot, focus on efficiencies and fully utilize the resources. Everyone can make a difference in forestry residual management, whether it’s a big or small licensee,” said Klassen, adding, “We don’t see this as the end but the start of something that will transform the industry.”

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

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.

FESBC Awarded $50M for Fibre Supply Boost, Wildfire Risk Mitigation, and Job Support – Funding Applications Now Being Accepted

FESBC Awarded $50M for Fibre Supply Boost, Wildfire Risk Mitigation, and Job Support – Funding Applications Now Being Accepted

British Columbia – The Government of BC is providing $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. FESBC is now accepting funding applications. 

“Receiving $50 million in funding from the Province of British Columbia is a significant boost for reducing smoke and greenhouse gas emissions, and will also better protect communities from the devastating impacts of extreme wildfires. This investment will also create and maintain jobs for workers, provide stability in communities, and accelerate Indigenous participation in the forest bioeconomy,” said Steve Kozuki, Executive Director, FESBC.

Williams Lake Band grinding fibre for hauling; Photo Credit: Forest Enhancement Society of BC

This year, the eligible parties for this funding opportunity are:

  • First Nations (Bands, Treaty First Nations and Indigenous Governments with authority for lands and resources) in B.C.
  • Companies and forest tenure holders owned by First Nation governments or Indigenous entrepreneurs.
  • Small area-based tenures such as community forest agreement holders and woodlot licensees.
  • Forest tenure holders, log suppliers, or purchasers of non-sawlog fibre that don’t own or control a primary forest product manufacturing facility.
  • Ministry of Forests and other provincial agencies.
  • Local governments such as Municipalities or Regional Districts.

A document with details on the application process, eligibility criteria and a step-by-step guide on the next steps is now available on the FESBC website, titled FESBC 2023-25 Fibre Utilization Funding Program Guide.

Similar to last year, FESBC will be hosting a virtual information session, aimed at guiding potential applicants on the application criteria and the necessary steps to successfully submit a proposal through the online portal.

Gord Pratt, Senior Manager, FESBC, emphasized the importance of hosting an information session, stating, “Our goal is to ensure that potential applicants have all the information they need to apply for funding and submit successful applications. Based on the success of our last year’s information session, we recognize the value of offering face-to-face interaction with potential proponents. This upcoming information session will allow us to offer guidance and address any inquiries applicants may have, ultimately increasing the likelihood of success for both, the project and the applicant.”

FESBC 2023 – 2025 Fibre Utilization Funding Program Information Session

When: April 18, 2023 at 9 a.m. (Pacific Time)

Where: Online, via Zoom

Register: to register for the information session, please visit:

For those who cannot attend the information session, a recording will be available to view on FESBC’s website the following day or by contacting FESBC Communications Liaison, Aleece Laird, at

Proponents seeking funds to implement Wildfire Risk Reduction (WRR) activities may still apply through FESIMS. Refer to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) 2022-23 Funding Program Application Guide for more information.

FESBC would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the

Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Forests.

Logan Lake hoping to step up fire mitigation efforts with funding from Forest Enhancement Society of BC

CFJC News is highlighting how the work that Logan Lake did to become FireSmart helped the town survive a catastrophic wildfire. FESBC has funded several projects in and around Logan Lake and Steve Kozuki, FESBC Executive Director, was on hand to talk about the role of fibre utilization.

From the story:

“It’s been well-documented this summer how FireSmart initiatives in Logan Lake helped save the community from the raging Tremont Creek wildfire. Logan Lake was Canada’s first FireSmart community in 2013. However, such efforts have been going on since 2003…

‘When the communities do these treatments and it results in woody fibre, biomass, we like to see projects where that biomass is used to create green energy for British Columbians or even exporting around the world in the form of pellets, or in the case of electricity it can be sold to Alberta and other provinces,’ said Steve Kozuki from the Forest Enhancement Society of BC.”

The full story and video can be found on the CFJC website, here: Logan Lake hoping to step up fire mitigation efforts with funding from Forest Enhancement Society of BC | CFJC Today Kamloops