Forestry and renewable resources in B.C.

As The Mayor Sees It with District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys

The annual Council of Forest Industries conference was held in Kelowna last week.

The agenda included presentations on a variety of topics including economic trends for the industry, changing markets for products, safety in lumber mills and innovative uses of fibre.

Minister Thomson gave a speech at the end that covered off the role the Province plays in supporting the forest industry, as well as how B.C. is doing in the world markets for energy.

The energy market has taken a leading role in what is seen as B.C.’s hope for the future. This does not detract though from the importance of our renewable resource based industries like forestry.

Various economists gave presentations that showed a slow recovery in the housing sector in the U.S.,  and a slowing of the urbanization push the government of the People’s Republic of China has been focused on for the past while.

The doom and gloom groups might sees this as a reduction of opportunity in those markets, but in actual fact there is still growth, and at a rate that will be sustainable and not subject to the wide swings the housing market, and by extension, the lumber market has experienced in the past.

There were presentations around the production and use of bio fuels, as well as a good number of suppliers of equipment related to that portion of the industry.

When a panel of experts were asked why there is not more of a push to expand the market for such things as wood pellets, the answer was that the market is simply not there to support the expense of production.

The topic of the best practises of using all that can be used during harvesting came up as well. The answer was that the fibre sources used for the production of bio fuels can be found as a by-product of current wood processing. To go further afield and capture the sources left in the bush is simply not economical at this point.

There were conversations around improving legislation so that small communities can access more of the available timber in their local areas.

The uses of the marginal species and the processing of value added fibre were discussed as well.

These and many locally focused topics were also covered at the Community Forestry Forum held Sunday in Clearwater.

There were great conversations and presentations on a variety of topics.

Rick Sommer, District Manager from the Ministry of Forestry Lands and Natural Resources Operations spoke on the forest industry, current and future trends and opportunities.

The role the Province plays in allowing change in the industry to benefit small communities is critical. I appreciate Mr. Somner taking the time to actually come and speak with people here in the valley that rely on the forest and the related industries for their livelihood.

Hans Wadlegger, owner of Wadlegger Logging & Construction Ltd., spoke on the important role the community plays in the sustainability of local businesses like his.

There was a discussion around finding and keeping skilled workers. The consensus was that it is more important to find workers that want to work than to find workers that are already trained. With a good work ethic a worker will provide value to a company no matter what their role or position may be in the organization.

The importance of a community spirit,  and its relationship to the success and sustainability of a community no matter how big or small it may be cannot be emphasized enough.

If there is no willingness to work together to build on past successes and solve current problems, then the community will literally fall apart.

Positive and enthusiastic residents can band together and overcome any number of tragedies. If we allow those that have a negative viewpoint to rule the conversation then there will be no progress. The future is in front of us and that is where we need to head. It is very hard to get there looking backwards.

We do need to celebrate past successes and important events. I encourage residents that want to be a part of organizing our 100th Anniversary celebration on June 15 to please contact Tasha at the District office.