The Community Reforestation Program (CRP) plays an important role in sustaining Alberta’s forests and small timber operators. The program reforests cutblocks harvested by community timber operators, which ensures future harvesting opportunities for this sector of the forest industry. These family-owned businesses depend on Alberta’s forests for their livelihood but don’t necessarily have the ability to do their own reforestation. Instead, they pay an additional levy on charges for their rights to harvest so that an organization with the right skill sets can do the reforestation that is required.
In 2000, the Government of Alberta passed the job of reforesting small operator cutblocks to FRIAA. The transition came with several challenges, including decisions on how to complete projects that had been started before FRIAA took over.
FRIAA inherited over 2500 cutblocks with more than 30,000 hectares that required some level of treatment ranging from complete treatment (for all the newer blocks) to final surveys only (for some of the older blocks). The scale of the project was similar to reforestation programs of a mid-sized forestry company, but while those reforestation efforts would focus on a specific operating area, this project was scattered across all of Alberta’s forested regions. This created issues with logistics and operating efficiencies.
We had a big job in front of us,” explains Byron Grundberg, CRP program manager. “And, we didn’t have much room for flexibility in the budget because we couldn’t use money collected from operators for new cutblocks for activities on cutblocks from the old program.”
FRIAA undertook the ambitious reforestation project. Over the years, a wide range of reforestation treatments and surveys were completed, until one by one, final surveys were completed on each of the 2583 cutblocks in the program. The last of these surveys was completed in 2014. The outcomes of final surveys confirm the success of the program. The vast majority of the individual cutblocks met or exceeded provincial reforestation standards and projected growth from these cutblocks exceeded provincial targets in every region of the province where the CRP operated.
We inherited a mixed bag of projects, but we soldiered on until they were done. I attribute the success of the project to dedicated contractors and the business-like approach to planning and organizing the reforestation activities,” says Grundberg.
The project was complex and unprecedented but through their dedication to completing it, FRIAA demonstrated their commitment to forest sustainability in Alberta. “I think FRIAA gained the trust of both government and small permit holders by making the successful completion of this project a priority,” says Grundberg.