|Sponsor:||West Fraser Mills Ltd.|
Herbicides are a safe and effective tool for meeting a wide range of silviculture objectives including reforestation, land reclamation and wildlife habitat enhancement. The forest industry has a 25-year history of herbicide use in Alberta’s forests with over 30,000 ha treated in 2018 (National Forest Database). Combined with good planting stock and targeted site preparation techniques, this tool has resulted in well stocked, rapidly growing forest stands that contribute to meeting Alberta’s long-term even-flow sustainable forest management goals and provide a wide array of other ecosystem services and social values. Silviculturists in Alberta have demonstrated judicious use of herbicides with a very low incidence of off-target applications attending aerial application of glyphosate (Mihajlovich et al, 2012). However, the use of herbicides in forestry has come under increasing scrutiny in other jurisdictions across North America and has resulted in outright bans in some. There is a growing uneasiness from the public and stakeholders in Alberta’s forest community regarding herbicide use, despite a wealth of evidence regarding its efficacy and safety. An unbiased assessment of perceptions completed as part of a FRIAA project with FGrOW in 2020 indicated that many in First Nations communities feel that their voices are not being heard. Active engagement in the field discussing issues has been demonstrated as an effective communications strategy for building relations and fostering meaningful engagement with First Nations people.
This project developed an interactive online training program for front-line forestry professionals to enhance effective communications and indigenous relationship building as related to herbicide use in
Alberta’s forests. National, 2 Badgers consulting and Red Wolf Mediations were involved. The communications training package was delivered in a series of five online training sessions to a total of 38 forestry professionals in 2021 and 2022. This program has built a cohort of knowledgeable professionals who are effective in communications and relationship building with First Nations communities and the
public as related to herbicide use in Alberta. The training package that was developed can be used to train additional forestry professionals in the future.
- 5 training sessions attended by 38 participants