Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Canada's Rarely Seen Animal

I usually pick up a Saturday Globe and Mail newspaper, because the weekend is the only time I have a chance to sit down and read one. I like to check the Sports and Business sections and catch up on the week that passed.

Last weekend, I noticed there was an article titled 'Canada's Most Elusive Creature'. The title piqued my curiousity, so I flipped ahead and saw that it was an article on the wolverine. Working in forestry, you sometimes hear people talking about wolverine's, but you rarely meet anyone who has seen one. If they have seen one, it was usually running off the road or into the woods and they didn't get a good look at it.

The article gives a good history of the wolverine, how it's population was greatly reduced, and hope that it may be recovering.

Some of the interesting quotes in the article were:

Ecologist Jason Fisher has spent the past six years studying wolverines in the Alberta foothills. When I ask him the extent of the wolverines' current range in Canada, he hesitates: “The honest answer is, I don't think anyone really knows for sure.”

it was the widespread introduction of predator poisons across North America during the 1960s and '70s that turned the animal's greatest strength – its supreme ability to locate scraps of meat scattered about a landscape – into a ruinous liability. In a few short years, wolverines were extirpated from the Lower 48, and savagely beaten back across Canada.

The deeper truth is that wolverines are difficult to find, and even harder to observe. They are blessed with the endurance of a marathoner, the speed of sprinter and the mountain-climbing ability of a goat. Chasing a wolverine through the wilderness is like pursuing the Terminator.

“They may just be the toughest animal in the world,” Douglas H. Chadwick says in his book The Wolverine Way. “When you weigh 15 kg and can back a full grown grizzly off a kill, that is just plain badass.”

Luckily for you, the article is now posted online and you can read it all yourself.

To read the full article, click here:


Monday, November 28, 2011

West Fraser Timber Company Plans Two Biomass Powered Plants in BC

This might be something we start seeing more of in BC - established forest companies building biomass/bioenergy plants. The technology is approaching the point where forest material that would otherwise go unused, or be burned into the atmosphere, can be harnessed and used to create a cleaner energy. The energy can be used to run adjacent building or mills, or possibly be sold back into the grid for general use. Material that could be used would be pieces of wood that are too small or too poor quality for lumber or other forest products. This will be a good trend to watch.

West Fraser Timber Company is mulling identical, biomass-powered generation plants at two of its subsidiaries in British Columbia. The plants are being planned in response to BC Hydro's (Nelson, British Columbia) "Bioenergy Call to Power" program to acquire and provide cost-effective, clean, renewable energy.

For details, view the entire article by subscribing to Industrial Info's Premium Industry News at, or browse other breaking industrial news stories at


Sunday, November 6, 2011

$24 Million Investment in Castlegar & Grand Forks mills

Good news for Castlegar and Grand Forks in the BC Kootenays.

International Forest Products is planning a total of $24 million in upgrades to two of its mills in Castlegar and Grand Forks. This will certainly create some jobs in the area, and is a vote of confidence in the future viability of these mills. Great news for the local communities.

At its meeting today, Interfor's Board of Directors approved a $24 million capital plan to upgrade the Company's Grand Forks and Castlegar sawmills.

The plan involves the installation of a new small log line at Grand Forks to replace the existing two-line facility, along with funds to complete the installation of an automated lumber grading system. The Grand Forks project is budgeted at $19 million and will incorporate the same technology recently installed at the Company's Adams Lake sawmill. Construction will commence in the first quarter of 2012 and will be completed in mid 2013.

The investment at Castlegar, which totals $5 million, consists of a series of high return projects including the installation of an automated lumber grading system focused on increasing productivity and value extraction at that mill.

When completed, the Grand Forks and Castlegar mills will operate with a combined capacity of 375 million board feet on a full two-shift basis.

The Grand Forks and Castlegar sawmills were acquired by Interfor in April 2008. The projects announced are consistent with the Company's philosophy of operating top quartile manufacturing facilities capable of extracting full value from the available timber resource. The investment, which will be funded primarily out of operating cash flow, is made possible by the Company's strong financial position and by the support of the management and crew at the two mills, along with other stakeholders, who have helped create a positive operating and investment climate in the area. The improvements to be made at these mills will help support long term jobs in the local communities.


To read the full release, click below:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

China slows but still Growing

The good news from China couldn't go on forever. Looks like China has slowed down in their buying of Canadian lumber for now, but records are still being broken. China is now BC's #2 customer for lumber. Some expect that this is just a blip and the buying will continue at some point. It is probably healthy for markets to have some sort of pullback. More BC delegates will be heading to China this fall to strengthen trade ties.

B.C. foresters, suffering in a five-year industry depression, have depended on the boom in China to sell wood as the key housing market in the United States remains moribund. Sales to China have helped keep some B.C. mills running that would otherwise be shuttered, including Canfor’s operation in Mackenzie.

Canfor’s forecast of lower sales in the fourth quarter suggests the industry could experience its first period of decline in the country since the selling boom to China began in 2007 and 2008.

This year’s sales to China by the B.C. industry of $731-million through August have already reached record territory – all of 2010 brought in $668-million. August, 2011, sales alone topped sales in all of 2006 but growth in August was a fraction of surprisingly strong growth recorded earlier in 2011.

Even if fourth-quarter sales decline from 2010, the B.C. industry this year is still likely to top $1-billion of sales to mainland China for the first time, cementing the country as B.C.’s No 2 customer.

To read the full article, visit:


Saturday, October 8, 2011

No more rainforest destruction for Barbie

A win for responsible forestry and rainforests.

Mattell Inc, the company that makes the Barbie doll and other toys, has agreed to stop buying paper products associated with rainforest destruction.

This is great news on two fronts. One, it will help create less demand for wood acquired from bad forestry practices. Two, Mattell will now turn to paper products sourced from sustainable forestry operations, such as those in BC. Hopefully we see more companies follow suit.

As part of its new commitments, Mattel is instructing its suppliers to avoid wood fibre from companies "that are known to be involved in deforestation," Greenpeace said in a statement. One such firm is Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a Jakarta-based company that owns five pulp mills in Canada, the Toronto Star reports.

Mattell also introduced new sustainable sourcing principles, including a commitment to have 70 per cent of its packaging come from recycled material or sustainable fibre by the end of this year, and 85 per cent by the end of 2015.

"We're very happy that Barbie retired her pink chainsaw," Richard Brooks, a Greenpeace Canada spokesperson told the Ottawa Citizen.

To read the full article, go here:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

BC exports to Asia greater than to US

Asia continues to be an important and improving market for BC products, and has surpassed the US market in dollar value for the first time. This is a trend I think we'll see continue, given the huge Asian population and development that is happening.

“For the first half of the year we’ve seen a total of $6.9-billion worth of goods flow into the Asia marketplace, that compares to $6.8 billion into the United States,” Mr. Bell told reporters after Statistics Canada released new export data.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Forestry Jobs in Nelson BC and the Kootenays

Are you looking for Forestry work in BC Canada?

Timberland Consultants 2001 in Nelson BC is looking to hire RPFs, senior and junior forest technicians (for block and road layout), timber cruisers, and silviculture surveyors.

The more experience you have the better, but we may also have some junior positions.  We'd like to hear from you. We are looking to hire for our current field season (2015/2016).

If you are interested, contact me at:

or phone the Timberland office at 250-354-3880.

(post updated Sept 2015)


BC Company Gears for more Chinese business

BC company West Fraser Timber sets record in second quarter by shipping more than 30 per cent of its Canadian production to China and Japan.

Chinese demand has helped to increase lumber prices above the lows set in 2009.

Pierre Lacroix of Desjardins Capital Markets expects market conditions for lumber to improve over the next six to nine months on reduced industry production, slight improvement in U.S. housing and continued Chinese demand.

“We're excited about this growing market and West Fraser will continue to devote all necessary resources to expand our business in China and throughout Asia,” CEO Hank Ketcham said Friday during a conference call.

Read the full article:


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Underwater Timber Harvest in Africa

Triton Logging, a BC company, is just getting underway with a project that will harvest tropical hardwoods from a lake bottom in Ghana. When it gets up to full steam, they will be harvesting 400,000 cubic metres per year. A mill by the lakeshore will process the timber and provide 100 jobs to locals.

Nearly eight years in the making, the massive salvage operation will take 25 years and harvest 350,000 hectares of underwater forest. It makes Triton, which was awarded the project late last year by Ghana’s parliament, well positioned to meet high global demand for tropical hardwoods – especially those logged sustainably.

Production couldn’t be starting at a better time. Experts foresee reduced supply and rapid growth in demand for tropical hardwoods from Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

China the top market for BC lumber in May

Who would have ever thought 10 years ago that another country would be a bigger market for BC lumber than the USA?

In May of this year, sales of BC lumber to China were $1 million above sales to the US.

In May, a record month, B.C.’s producers sold $120-million of softwood lumber to mainland China, triple the level of a year earlier and, more significantly, edging out the $119-million in sales to the United States.

The impact of China's buying in the past few years I believe has made a significant difference to the economic health of BC forest companies, and forest and mill workers. Take away the Chinese buying and lumber markets would be very poor.

China also paid more for their lumber per cubic metre, spending $163 per cubic metre vs $142 for the US. Sales to China are up 178% from a year ago.

There are more details in the article below, which suggests that demand may taper off until the winter. However growth from China has been in the double and triple digits in recent years, and I don't see the overall trend slowing down from year to year just yet.


Interview with a Kentucky Forester

Interview with a Kentucky Forester, from

Considered working as a Forester? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more. This is a true career story as told to for its “What They Don’t Teach” series – a collection of interviews with Hispanic and bilingual professionals from a Key Accounts Manager to a Senior Events Planner, and everything in between.

I have worked in Kentucky as a consulting forester for the past five years. The primary job of a consulting forester is to work with landowners and advise them on the best forestry practices for their land. The daily life of a forester changes throughout the year since different jobs need to be done in different seasons. Believe it or not, a great deal of the work takes place in the winter. This is mostly because it is easier to walk through a forest when the underbrush is leafless. In the winter, a forester will typically be "cruising timber." This is the jargon term for taking inventories of a forest to determine what species are present and how much timber is available. Other parts of my job involve writing contracts for timber harvests, submitting forms to the government, and trying to improve the forests I manage.

I am a white male, and we make up the vast majority of foresters. Plenty of women and minority foresters exist, though, so anyone who is interested in the field should not be discouraged. Knowing a foreign language is not required to be a successful forester, but knowing other languages can be a huge benefit. For example, Spanish is a plus when working in Texas or Arizona, and knowing basic French is often a requirement to work in Maine or Canada.

Overall, I would rate my job satisfaction a 7 out 10. Being a consulting forester means that I am self-employed, so keeping a steady stream of clients is crucial to running a successful business. Increasing my job satisfaction would mean being able to find more clients and grow my business.

Even though I graduated college prepared to be a forester, one of the hardest parts of the job was learning how to be self-employed. It takes a great deal of responsibility to properly manage your finances, and this isn't a topic that is taught in a forestry curriculum. If I had a second chance, I would try to take one or two finance and entrepreneurship courses in college.

I think that the driving factor in me becoming a forester was my love of the outdoors. Even when I was young, I loved science and knew it was what I wanted to pursue. During my first year of college, however, I studied molecular biology. I soon discovered that I wasn't made to work in a lab every day, and I wanted to have a chance to work outdoors. That was the point when I discovered forestry and began to understand how exciting it was. In terms of my education, I can't say that I would change anything. I feel I made the right choices, and I love the job I have today.

Working in the forest means every day is another opportunity for a unique experience. I wouldn't call any of my experiences strange, but I have had the chance to see several rare plant and animal species. One of the best parts of my job is that, since I often work on private land, I am able to see beautiful scenery that few people will ever experience. While I deal with relatively few problems, being a forester involves working in all types of weather and dealing with unpleasant plants and animals. I dislike spiders the most. Successful foresters must be able to put their love of the outdoors over the less enjoyable aspects of the job.

The greatest part of being a consulting forester is the ability to set your own hours and, to a certain extent, your income. The salary of a forester ranges depending on workload and location. As a forester in the southeast, I earn approximately $45,000 per year. Considering my freedom and responsibility, I am happy with my income.

The most rewarding part of my job comes from interacting with landowners. All of my clients own forest land, but very few are familiar with the forest. I love having the opportunity to discuss my clients' land and teach them what I can about it. In my experience, forest owners love to learn more about the trees in their forest and how the ecosystem works as a whole. I have also had the chance to speak at workshops and teach short courses in different aspects of forestry.

Two options exist for individuals interested in forestry as a career -- technical colleges and universities. Earning a degree from a technical college will take two years, and the student will be prepared for all aspects of forest management. Most states have at least one four-year university that offers a forestry curriculum. These programs require more courses in math and science, and the graduate will be prepared for higher level forestry positions. When choosing a forestry school, it is important that it be accredited by the Society of American Foresters. Each year, the Society of American Foresters publishes a list of accredited programs.

For a friend or anyone considering forestry, I would suggest thinking about the educational requirements and whether working outdoors during all weather conditions is the right choice. From the educational standpoint, many people struggle in forestry programs because they do not expect to be challenged; however, learning tree species and understanding forests can be extremely difficult at times. There is also a fair amount of math, statistics, and chemistry involved.

I'm incredibly happy with the job I get to perform on a daily basis. I have always loved being outdoors, and now I get to explore nature for a living. If I were to choose my own destiny, then in five years from now I would be able to expand my business and work over a larger region. I would love to be able to hire more employees so that I could take a more managerial role. Managing my own company has always been one of my life goals. Overall, though, I love what I do, and I hope I get to do it for many more years.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Slave Lake wildfire - More to Come?

The Slave Lake wildfire devastation almost seemed to come from nowhere. There weren't the usual warnings about a fire starting near a community, days of watch to see if it got close, and so on, like we normally see. At least I didn't catch any of it on the nightly news. It was very sudden, the fire was on the town right away, people were evacuated, and everyone was wondering if their homes and businesses would survive intact.

The latest article I read (link posted below), has some interesting facts about this disaster. 485 homes and businesses gone or damaged, almost no prior notice because the fire moved too fast, warmer seasons drying out the boreal forest, more lightning storms, pine beetle spreading and killing trees - turning stems into dry standing fuel, highway closures, 100 km/hr winds, bulldozing unburned homes to create a fire break to protect other homes. These altogether in one event are an extreme occurrence and it makes me wonder if we'll see more of the same.

Warmer summers and mountain pine beetle killed trees alone are enough of a hazard to any towns within the boreal forest. If a town borders a forest that hasn't burned in decades - where fuels have built up on the forest floor and dead pine stand scattered throughout and dry - it could be a recipe for disaster. Many towns in this kind of situation have started projects to create fire breaks and reduce forest fuels so that if a fire does start nearby, it will have less of a direct bridge to structures and settlements.

The bright spot in the Slave Lake disaster is that no one died when the fire hit the town, and during the evacuation, despite what little time people had to react. The PM has toured the area and hopefully supplies and support will come quick to help the residents recover and rebuild.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

China Continues to Impact Canada's Lumber Industry

Latest news reports in 2011 continue to show a positive trend for the Canadian forest industry.

Shipments to China and Japan were up in 2010 from the year before, and demand continues to be strong in 2011. Many BC forest companies have reported a profit in the latest quarter. There are a number of sawmills operating in BC right now solely because of demand from China.

There are also more indications that China will be using more lumber for constructing housing than in the past (when mostly concrete and steel were used). Housing starts over the next three years are going to be in the 6 million unit range.

Given that only a minor amount of construction in China uses wood right now, there is a lot of room for growth. Canada recently became the number one supplier of lumber to China, and China recently became the second largest economy in the world (behind the US and ahead of Japan).

When you think that the increased harvest of dead beetle-attacked pine in BC is in its closing days, demand from China keeps increasing by double digit %, and the US is expected to resume its demand at some point, the next few years could be busy times in the Canadian forest industry. If harvest rates in BC come close to their annual allowable amounts, it will have a trickle down effect for jobs and towns in the areas of logging, hauling, planning, engineering, and silviculture.

A couple years ago it seemed like the forest industry couldn't sink any lower. Today, the future looks bright.

See the article below in Canadian Business: