(Watch the video on the new TimberWest YouTube Channel)
In 1973, Dave Kral worked his first day on the job planting trees. Forty-two years later he has returned to replant again in the same recently-harvested block.
Dave Kral was eighteen years old and fresh out of school when he took a job with Pacific Forest Products – an earlier incarnation of TimberWest. On his very first day of work he helped to re-plant a harvested block near Sooke, B.C., on Vancouver Island. The work was outdoors and the pay was excellent for a young newcomer. Eight-hours each day in the fresh air and the satisfaction of replanting a new forest provided Dave with a great job experience. And forty-two years later he is still enjoying a great job experience with the same company – now in the position of Log Buyer – having seen many changes over the years for both the company and his role. But he could never have imagined he would get to come back and plant trees again after the most recent harvest of that mature crop he planted decades earlier.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to come back and see this,”Dave remarked, beaming, during the recent re-planting event. It was a beautiful sunny day, unseasonably warm for February, with crystal-clear blue skies. Dave sat in the sun on a tree stump from the recent 2014 harvest – possibly a tree grown from one of the seedlings he planted in 1973 – right beside an original-harvested stump from that same year. In front of him the new, 42ndseedling he’d just planted swayed gently in the breeze.
Tree-farming techniques have changed a lot over the years and planting was not exempt from the evolution.
“Back then we had broadcast burns,” Dave stated as he surveyed the terrain of trees, seedlings and remnants of branches and leaves.“This would be all gone, no branches, no nothing. Just black soil.”
Today, tree-farming – logging as it is commonly known – employs a broad range of sustainability techniques and practices. For TimberWest, the science of protecting the environment and the tree assets is as critical as the actual logging itself, and the company invests heavily in people and knowledge to ensure that the land is protected. Conventional farming is based on annual crops. Tree-farming on Vancouver Island uses native species with crop rotations between 40 and 100 years. Seedlings are replanted about 3 meters apart.
On this very special day, Dave has planted 42 of the new seedlings to help reforest the block, each one representing a year he has been an employee of TimberWest. Joining him on this auspicious occasion is his former Planting Foreman, Gary Haut and his former Chief Forester, Bruce Devitt. The men marvel equally at the changes in planting methods and how great the block looks.
“This isn’t at all what I was expecting,” said Gary. “I hardly recognized the place!”
Bruce Devitt was overwhelmed to see a third generation of trees being put in the ground.
“I’m just awed. I can’t believe it – we did good!” Bruce smiled as he discussed the historical implications with Domenico Iannidinardo, TimberWest’s VP Sustainability and current Chief Forester. “It’s such a tonic to be here on a day like today and see the results of the work we did.”
“This type of day epitomizes the renewability of this business,” Iannidinardo said. “It’s a motivator for me, a current employee, and our future employees, all of our contractors and the community, to see that this type of a resource is real and something everyone should be in support of.”
Devitt glanced around happily and added, “People need to know just how renewable this resource really is, and that it is possible to farm the forest properly.”
As planting crews carried on adding to Dave’s 42 seedling additions, he reflected on the significance of the day for him.
“In my career this is no doubt my proudest moment. There’s nothing to compare to it. Hopefully more kids will get into the forestry program. It’s a great job.”
He added, smiling, “And who would have thought that I’d be coming back here 42 years later to plant again? It’s great!”
Left to right: Bruce Devitt – Former Chief Forester, Dave Kral – TimberWest Log Buyer, Gary Haut – Former Planting Foreman, Domenico Iannidinardo – TimberWest VP Sustainability and Chief Forester, Peter Bontkes – Planting Foreman