Spring has arrived in Central British Columbia which means that PacBio and its contractors are preparing for our second year of tree planting. Planning started months ago during the Fall and Winter but once the seedlings arrive at the planting sites it is all hands-on shovels so that the new seedlings can get established in their new surroundings during the Summer and Fall.
This year, PacBio’s Tree Planting Program will involve planting about one million seedlings on 26 separate blocks in the Bobtail Wildfire Biomass Recovery Area. The new trees will be planted before mid-June and the species include Lodgepole Pine, Western White Pine, Spruce, Douglas Fir and Western Larch.
The work will be done by local contractor Freya Logging and involve 14 staff working five days a week. Planters will travel each day to the planting sites from their homes in Prince George. This enables COVID-19 worksite protocols to be followed. PacBio will have a summer student oversee the planting program along with an independent project supervisor who will ensure that everything goes as planned.
PacBio Forestry Supervisor Conor O’Donnell states, “Our tree planting program is an important part of our forest management plan. We are required to replant the sites in the Bobtail area where we harvested burned timber for conversion to wood pellets. As a Forester, seeing the tree planters stock previously harvested sites with new trees that will grow into a new forest is very satisfying.”
PacBio Woodlands Manager Joe Kenney adds, “Our tree planting program is unique to the wood pellet industry. PacBio saw an opportunity to acquire fibre by harvesting burned trees not suitable for lumber or pulp and convert them to wood pellets to generate clean, green energy in Europe and Japan. Planting new trees to replace the trees burned in the 2015 Bobtail wildfire completes the forest management cycle on these sites. Mother Nature would have done the job as well. Our participation just speeds up the process.”
PacBio planted its first 1.1 million seedlings in 2020 as part of its reforestation obligations in the Bobtail Wildfire Biomass Recovery Area west of Prince George. PacBio contractors harvested dead standing and fallen timber burned in the 2015 early season wildfire that swept through forests in the Bobtail area.
PacBio CEO John Stirling said, “This is our second year for tree planting under the COVID-19 safety protocols and I am extremely proud of our staff and contractors for being so diligent about safety. While concerns about the pandemic continue, our tree planting program is progressing safely and knowing the new trees will help grow a new forest is very rewarding. Our company and our industry started up in the 1990s taking sawmill residuals that had been burned in beehive burners and converting that material into a clean, green energy for use in Europe. Our industry has evolved and now sells wood pellets to Japan. We have also evolved by demonstrating that we can harvest burned timber not suitable for lumber or pulp and renew those sites with seedlings. We are now a full-circle industry and I am proud that PacBio is at the forefront of the evolution.”