By: The Working Forest Staff
VANCOUVER, BC –TimberWest is once again a classroom to a group of excited summer students, eager to further their knowledge of the forest industry. A select group of students is receiving a hands-on experience in silviculture, forest engineering, and forest biology while assisting the company’s operations in Nanaimo and Campbell River locations. Benefitting from an exchange of knowledge and invaluable professional experience, students’ responsibilities are as varied as B.C.’s coastal biodiversity. From workshops in climate change to overseeing drone flights and monitoring artificial bear dens, TimberWest encourages participation in a variety of tasks.
Students learn about the environmental conditions of various plant species- why some thrive while others require maintenance, given ecological constraints. Reforestation is a keen area of interest among summer interns, and one that is of particular concern to the public. Planning and creating a forest to meet a complex set of requirements such as environmental needs, First Nations values and wildlife habitat is a challenge. At TimberWest, students learn about managing the forest for these values. “Hearing about all the learning opportunities available at TimberWest, I have no doubt that all of my questions, and more, will be answered,” says Breagh Kobayashi, summer student at the Campbell River location.”
The Coastal Silviculture Committee Summer Workshop, based out of Campbell River, provides insight into one of today’s most pressing questions – climate change, and how to ensure that the young stands adapt to the changing conditions. During his summer placement, Lyle Ahenakew learned that a “transitional shift from geographically based seed transfer to a climate-based seed transfer system” is a new tool for combatting global warming. “[Mitigating] climate change by moving seeds based on latitude, temperature, and precipitation so they are planted in climates where they are currently best adapted” is also a reforestation strategy that students learn about during their summer placement with TimberWest.
TimberWest’s summer program stretches beyond forestation as students get to monitor the habitats of species at risk, such as that of the Northern Goshawk, among other field responsibilities. “A number of ‘Goshawk Territories’ have been set aside from harvesting TimberWest and my job is to find nests and determine if the territory is still in use,” said Mack Hallworth, who is working as a member of the Environment and Resource Integration (ERI) team.
“I am pleased to be working in Nanaimo BC for a company that values sustainable forest development, environmental stewardship and, most importantly, building and maintaining relationships with people,” says Marino Somerville, whose work this summer is primarily focused on engineering and operations. Inspection of bridges designed as resource roads is another of the responsibilities of the team, as over time, the bridges wear down due to vehicle use and weathering. “During each inspection, we consistently look out for any signs of bridge failure and instability.”This is why TimberWest has implemented a long-standing bridge inspection program. “One of the best parts I have found about my job is that I can balance my workload between field days and office days. Getting the opportunity to be outdoors and apply newly acquired knowledge from school puts things into perspective of how sophisticated the forest industry is.”
To Meghan Hilborn, “it’s the little things” that matter: “People walk by [and] say hello to us, or happily exchange a few words in the coffee room. These small events make me feel like I’m more than an expendable, temporary employee, inspiring me to work harder every day.”