Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia
The "office" of the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia – the voice of the province's forest industry – speaks volumes about the organization, and its commitment to this critical resource.
Located in Hilden, Colchester Co., near Truro, the FPANS building is, fittingly, made from local wood and evokes a sense of warmth and welcome. It sits on a knoll in the midst of sea, sky and greenery. Inside, the beauty of locally made forest products is reflected in the gleaming, handmade maple boardroom table.
The setting may be relaxed, but inside is a thoroughly modern organization hard at work to ensure the forest industry in this province continues to be safe, sustainable, and successful.
Executive director Steve Talbot says Nova Scotia's forest industry, is unique.
"Across Canada, 95 per cent of land is Crown owned," Talbot explains. "In Nova Scotia, only 30 per cent is owned by the province, and much of this is protected spaces."
It is the privately owned land, the backbone of the forestry industry, that FPANS, in part, represents.
"There are over 31,000 wood-lots in this province, and most of them are between 100 and 200 acres," says Mr. Talbot.
"Our more-than 700 members come from all facets of this industry.” This includes logging businesses, sawmill operators, pulp and paper manufacturers, forest equipment operators, maple product producers, Christmas tree producers, silviculture firms and harvesting contractors.
Many of the forestry operations are family ventures.
"They have been owned, often, through many generations, and they are an integral part of their communities," says Mr. Talbot.
So are the people who work at the companies. Many are long-term employees whose resourcefulness has served the industry, and the province, through massive change and growth. One such person is Downey Thompson, a senior consultant with the Elmsdale Lumber Company, who has worked with the firm for more than 60 years, without a single sick day.
"Downey, a young strapping man from Nine Mile River, started working in the woods felling trees with an axe and hauling them road side with the aid of a trusty horse. At that time, the company's sawmill was powered by a steam boiler," says Elmsdale Lumber president Robin Wilbur.
Today, Mr. Thompson is actively at work in an industry that relies on mechanical harvesters, global positioning systems and extensive computerization. And he has been joined by his son Stephen, who is woodlands manager at the Elmsdale Lumber Company.
FPANS and its members want to see such traditions continue. That is one of the reasons the organization, which has been around since 1934, is working to ensure sustainable forestry practices today. And tomorrow.
"Environmentally sound forest management is crucial to the future of the industry, and the province," says Mr. Talbot.
Such practices, he adds, strike a fundamental balance between the environment and business.
That balance is explored in a course the association has developed to identify and share best practices in the industry.
"We look at how to minimize environmental impact and ensure long-term sustainability," says Mr. Talbot.
"The goal is to grow more trees on fewer acres of land in a shorter period of time.” It's an innovative approach that will enable Nova Scotians, and our visitors, to make greater use of forest land for recreation and to preserve more plants, animals and protected spaces for future generations.
It is also smart business. The forestry industry in Nova Scotia employs about 16,000 people, directly and indirectly, and has an estimated value of $1 billion annually.
"We need to identify the sites that will best grow trees then implement intensive management practices," says Mr. Talbot.
That process takes time. But there's no rush when you want to do something right -- and something well.
"We're looking at making important changes today; changes that will also have a tremendous impact 50 to 100 years down the road," says Mr. Talbot.
In planning for the future, much is also being done today. An average of 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of land is planted every year, and more than $12 million is invested in silviculture and forest protection.
"We have an obligation to manage the resource wisely and protect it for the future," says Mr. Talbot.
There is also an obligation to protect those who work in the industry. Safety is a major concern and a major focus of activity. The association has been instrumental in the development of a code of practice manual -- The Forest Professional Guidelines for the Stewards of Tomorrow's Forests -- that promotes safe and efficient work practices.
"We have created seven forest stewardship principles that our members have endorsed. One of those principles is that the health and safety of employees, and the public, will not be compromised by any forest practices. All equipment and operating practices will be in accordance with approved industry codes of practice," says Mr. Talbot.
"We are serious about safety, and ensuring employees are aware of safe practices and using them when they're on the job."
While FPANS's focus is addressing issues in Nova Scotia, there are no boundaries when it comes to sharing expertise and insight. A good example is the association's work to control the brown spruce longhorn beetle.
"We are now working with New Brunswick to help them prevent, or manage, the problem there," says Mr. Talbot. "There are always demands on the forest industry, and they don't stop at a line on a map. We need to be able to count on one another for support."
That's one of the many reasons to celebrate an industry that has helped to shape the history of Nova Scotia. And the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia is front and centre in that recognition, a fact that is obvious when you look around its office in Hilden.