Woodlots focus on forest resiliency and engagement at conference

Cranbrook, BC – Woodlot licensees and forestry stakeholders from across the province will be meeting in Cranbrook this weekend, October 26-28, 2023, at St. Eugene’s Golf Resort and Casino for the annual joint conference of the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations and the Woodlot Product Development Council. 

This conference comes on the heels of the worst fire season on record in BC, at a time when the forest industry is at a crossroads, and when learning about engagement with First Nations is more important than ever.

This year’s theme is “Engaging for Success, Striving for Resilience”. Keynote speaker Paul Hessburg, a renowned forest ecologist from Washington and TED-talk speaker, opens the conference sessions on Thursday night, with a welcome by Nasuʔkin (Chief) Joe Pierre Jr. of ʔaq̓am, a member community of the Ktunaxa Nation. 

Field tours of local woodlots and a wildfire risk reduction treatment area will occur on Friday, with panel discussions and speakers on Saturday.

At the first panel, Kevin Webber, Federation of BC Woodlot Associations’ Board Vice President, will moderate a discussion with panelists Garry Merkel, a member of the Tahltan Nation and a professional forester, and Dr. Marcella LaFever, whose work includes investigating Indigenous storytelling as a communicative practice in public dialogue. 

The panel will focus on engagement between woodlot licensees and First Nations, specifically how to build relationships, with the understanding that woodlot licensees are generally small operators. Essentially, how can woodlot licensees engage with First Nations to develop effective and meaningful relationships? 

Next up on Saturday afternoon is a panel discussion about forest ecosystem resiliency and what role small scale forestry management has at the landscape level. Brian Watson of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC will guide the discussion with Ken Day (consulting forester and former manager of the UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest), Jeff McWilliams (RPF, Associate at B.A. Blackwell and Associates) and Fons Raedschelders (Senior Wildfire Officer Prevention, Southeast Fire Centre, Ministry of Forests).

Woodlotters in the East Kootenays have joined forces to host the weekend, with 170 attendees representing all the forest districts in BC. The event will be attended by woodlot licensees, small-scale forestry operators, First Nations stakeholders, government officials, logging contractors and forestry-sector consultants. 

A Ministry of Forests representative will be on hand to present the Minister’s Award for Innovation and Excellence in Woodlot Management, a peer-based award that recognizes exemplary forest management. 

The Federation of BC Woodlot Associations and the Woodlot Product Development Council are looking forward to seeking resilient and engaged solutions to modern-day forestry issues during the three-day conference. 

To learn more about woodlots in British Columbia, please visit us at woodlotsbc.ca.

For an interview with FBCWA, contact: Sarah Sutton, Communications Coordinator | 250.845.8082 | communications@woodlotsbc.ca

About FBCWA: The Federation of BC Woodlot Associations was founded in 1988 and represents 17 woodlot associations, whose membership includes woodlot licensees and small private woodland owners throughout British Columbia united in an effort to demonstrate exemplary forest and natural resource management. 

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