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 Lavender

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.

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.

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 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

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

Faces of Forestry: Klay Tindall

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 Klay Tindall, general manager of forest operations for Lil’wat Forestry Ventures LP. 

Klay’s journey in forestry began with a strong educational foundation. After obtaining a Bachelor of Forestry in Forest Management/Forest Resource Management from The University of British Columbia (UBC), his commitment to personal growth led him to get an additional Certificate in Advanced Leadership from UBC Sauder School of Business.

“In the early days of my career, the adventurous spirit that forestry offered, as well as the excitement of being outdoors every day laid the foundation for this lifelong passion,” said Klay.

Currently, Klay works as the general manager of Forest Operations for Lil’wat Forestry Ventures (LFV) in Mount Currie, British Columbia, which supports the Lil’wat Nation by creating profits, employment, and training.

In this role, he ensures the operation’s contract safety and environmental leadership, leading and coordinating a team responsible for planning and implementing forestry activities. In addition, he is in charge of developing and implementing annual budgets, as well as coordinating the forestry activities with the Indigenous Affairs/Referrals department of Lil’wat Nation to ensure Rights and Titles are strengthened.

“An important part of my role is creating jobs in the community and developing employee skills,” added Klay. “LFV averages 35 employees and does contract forest firefighting, fuels management, silviculture, and road maintenance work for other licensees and clients. I deal directly with our clients that the contracting department works for.”

Additionally, he manages the harvesting, engineering, and silviculture contractors over Lil’wat Nations’ five forest tenures, with LFV harvesting approximately 100,000 cubic metres of timber annually.

Klay’s commitment to enhancing British Columbia’s forests is evident through his engagement with the FESBC. Since 2019, he has led many fuels management projects through his work with the Cheakamus Community Forest (CCF) utilizing FESBC funds.

“Currently, we are working with FESBC on fuels management projects in the CCF and Spel’kúmtn Community Forest, hoping to extend that project to 2024. We are also receiving support from them to harvest low-value stands in Lil’wat Traditional Territory,” he explained.

Reflecting on the journey, one of the aspects Klay cherishes the most is the ability to create long-term financial benefits and meaningful careers for the Lil’wat community.

As he explains, “forestry is an exciting, tricky and ever-changing industry,” adding that “it involves complex and sometimes undiscovered science, historical and traditional knowledge, as well as intrinsic values. It provides meaningful employment producing sustainable products, as well as places to gather food and enjoy the beauties of nature.”

Outside his work, Klay finds solace in the mountains around Whistler, spending quality time with his loved ones. His passion for forestry extends beyond professional boundaries and into his family, as both of his oldest sons have followed in his footsteps, pursuing careers in forestry across British Columbia.

Thank you, Klay, for your dedication to sustainable forestry, and unwavering commitment to supporting the Lil’wat community.

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.