Frank Varga, the General Manager of Burns Lake Community Forest, attended a delegation of B.C. Forest Practitioners led by the UBC Faculty of Forestry team in Finland.
Varga was the only representative from Burns Lake among the 31 delegates.
The other representatives were from the Office of the Chief Forester, four educational and research institutions, the Federation of B.C. Woodlot Association, Six Forestry Consultants, B.C. Timber Sales, the Pulp and Paper Coalition, the Council of Forest Industry, private landowners, and community forests in B.C.
The trip lasted for 10 days and the purpose was to understand Finnish history and the development of their forest industry that adds value to their climate change mitigation and adaptation to biodiversity actions.
Finland has a vision for its national forest strategy, which recognizes the economic, ecological, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability.
They promote a responsible and comprehensive economy for Finland’s well-being, beginning with a firm coherence policy, high-quality research, and spatial data creation for decision-making.
Varga said that there was trust and collaboration between landowners, industry, government, and scientists, and that Finnish national identity was also tied to forestry with adequate supportive funding initiatives.
According to Varga, the Finnish acknowledge that a solid foundation of booming industry is necessary to advance the bio-economy.
The forest sector’s strength extends deeply through the economy, reinforced service, energy, and manufacturing sectors in pulp mills, bio-energy, biomass, and bio-products.
Varga said Finnish pension funds are investing in private land for forest management, and forestry companies are purchasing or leasing out available land for potential harvest.
Varga remarked that Finland’s training, development, and investment in innovation and technology is light-years ahead of B.C.
Finland teaches the technical characteristics of tree growth and forest dynamics, as well as machine maintenance and operations, which have various configurations of logging equipment. This allows Finnish contractors to match capital cost and production expectations and invest in good data, leading to better decisions that eventually build trust among forest communities.
Varga said that Finland’s main commercially focused species are Norwegian Spruce, Loblolly Pine, and Silver Birch.
Varga believes that the knowledge from this educational trip could be implemented and adapted to new ways of logging and growing trees in BC forests.
Varga thinks that B.C. can excel in its own forest management by acknowledging basic principles or ingredients for success.
Varga added that a coherent and strategic approach to B.C. forestry could include all partners, stakeholders, and First Nations and review current policy to ensure coherence with emerging strategies.