Sustainability the key to local forestry

Sustainability is key for the local industry - and a must for the family-owned business that has logged the area for more than 60 years.

There’s no getting around the fact that tree stumps look less appealing than a healthy forest.

But Trail made a lot of green from Violin Lake logs last year, so it’s unlikely the city will cut future financial gain through forestry.

Sustainability is key for the local industry – and a must for the family-owned business that has logged the area for more than 60 years.

“The timber that is harvested supports many hundreds of direct and indirect jobs in our communities,” says Mark Semeniuk, ATCO Wood Product‘s chief operating officer. “And ultimately becomes a myriad of products that can be found in our homes and in lumber stores around the world.”

Recognizing that everyday decisions directly affect the health and future of forests, ATCO has been certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) since 2006.

The Fruitvale-based company remains committed to environmental stewardship and responsible forestry on both crown and private lands– because after all, they also live, work and play here.

With aggressive and successful silviculture, otherwise known as sustainable forestry management, the city lands will support a healthy stand of trees in 30 years, much like the reforested hectares that ATCO logged in the early 2000s.

While a newly harvested site looks less appealing than a healthy green forest, Semeniuk maintains that stage is a necessary part of the renewal process.

“We are proud of our efforts to minimize the negative aspects of the harvesting process,” he said.

“And the ultimate results of a healthy, diverse new forest only a few years after harvest.”

The company was recently certified for another five years under the voluntary SFI program, which uses guiding principles of sustainable forestry to enhance the link between healthy forests, responsible purchasing and sustainable communities.

Every five years SFI standards are revised to update forest research data and to address emerging issues such as conservation of specific species, water protection and the minimization of chemical use.

Biodiversity and sustainability has long been part of ATCO’s practises, noted Semeniuk. “Forestry activities that local mills conduct, including ATCO, are important pieces of the social and economic health of our region,” he continued. “As such ATCO has a vested interest in long term health and sustainability.”

While the SFI certification only applies to Crown land, the company incorporates the same standards of practise to City of Trail private lands.

Forest planning and harvest management practises include training to identify potential species at risk, Semeniuk said.

Rather than replanting only one or two species on City of Trail property, ATCO plans to plant six varietals, including Douglas Fir, Englemann Spruce, Western Red Cedar, and Western White Pine.

“This will allow for a vibrant new forest consisting of the “Kootenay Mix” of species that has historically grown on these lands,” he added.

By the end of the current logging project, up to 75-hectares of land will be clear cut logged, said Gus Young, ATCO’s woodlands manager. “We have left wildlife tree patches (reserve areas) throughout these clear cut areas,” he explained. “We also plan to do a light selective cut on another 15 to 20 hectares.”

Keeping with SFI principles of prompt reforestation, most of the logged areas are slated to be replanted with multiple conifer species in May, he added.

The SFI is a non-profit organization, governed by a board of directors, that covers 100 million hectares from Canada’s boreal forest to south of the international border.

Total revenue from Violin Lake logging by the end of 2014 was $735,000 said David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative officer. Some of the money was used to pay for the second phase of downtown revitalization, he noted, adding that the remainder would most likely remain in surplus for future capital projects.