ATCO joins Guinness World Record attempt

The company is taking part in the attempt to plant 250,000 trees in an hour.

Whether the record is set or not, a local company’s role in a Guinness World Record attempt will still stand tall over time.

On May 20, ATCO Wood Products of Fruitvale is joining an international effort to set the world record for the most trees (250,000) planted in one hour simultaneously by teams in multiple locations across North America.

Three ATCO employees and 23 from Castlegar-based Greenpeaks Holdings will be at Neptune Creek Drainage, located about nine kilometres north of Rossland, from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m.

The planters are all locals who have worked for the softwood veneer producer for a number of years, some as long as 25 years, says Mark MacAulay, the company’s silviculture supervisor.

“ATCO and the tree planters are very proud of our silviculture practices,” he said.

“And we are able to see the plantations develop into forests each year when we drive past to plant more trees.”

Besides the 26 tree planters, two impartial observers, one steward and two ATCO employees will be at the reforestation site, documenting the event.

“Guinness requires that there are two independent witnesses who are part of some professional body that is forestry related,” explained MacAulay. “But are not associated with ATCO or each other.”

Comparable to a referee, the steward ensures all rules are adhered to and holds the ability to disqualify.

“Guinness also requires that the entire attempt is filmed and photographed,” he added.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), is leading the world record effort as a unique way to engage communities that support its commitment to sustainable management of forest resources.

Recognizing that everyday decisions directly affect the health and future of forests, ATCO has been SFI certified since 2006.

MacAulay said SFI environmental certification requires participants to engage in research activities that improve forest health and productivity, in addition to sustainable forest management practices.

“This effort definitely fits in with the commitment,” he noted. “As well as adding a little fun to the reforestation effort.”

The area being replanted, described as Cutting Permit 227 Block 1, is heavily used by hunters, firewood cutters, berry pickers, hikers and mountain bike riders.

If their goal is achieved, ATCO plans to post a sign so the public is aware that the trees planted on the cut block were part of the Guinness World Record.

ATCO typically plants about 1.1 million trees each year, which equates to about four trees planted for every one harvested.

Sustainability is key for the local 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.”

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 practices, 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.”

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