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Forest and Resources Expo adds new dimension

By Jim Stirling

The upcoming Forest and Resources Expo will deliver the tried and true plus a new dimension. Forest Expo’s board of directors made the decision two years ago to expand and diversify the show’s mandate to include the mining and oil and gas industries.                 

As a result, the 2008 event—being held in Prince George from June 5 to 7—will present a comprehensive overview of the dominant indu

stries working on the land base in central and northern British Columbia.                                   

The concept appears to have captured the imagination of all three major industrial participants. By January, significant blocks of booth space at Exhibition Park’s buildings had been booked, reports Trudy Swaan, the general manager of Forest and Resources Expo. This includes space reserved by the major suppliers and service providers of forest machines and equipment.                                   

Teck Cominco Ltd, a leader in the global mining industry, was quick off the mark to book a bank of space to participate in the new showcase offered by Forest and Resources Expo. “The sponsorship of events is also coming in very well,” notes Swaan.                                   

All of which is promising news. The old Forest Expo learned to react to circumstances, allowing it to remain vibrant and viable. Since its beginnings in 1985, the show has at strategic times switched names, length, timing and focus. But embracing mining and oil and gas marks a bold new path for Forest and Resources Expo.                                   

When they started out, no one knew how big the show will be, observes Swaan. And the final figures are still not in. “But the diversification of the show is proceeding in a very orderly manner.”                                   

Forest and Resources Expo is retaining several of its popular features. One that has really taken off is the BioEnergy Conference & Exhibition held in conjunction with the show. Swaan expects the 2008 version to attract a record number of participants from several countries. The conference’s success reflects the growing interest in the green energy opportunities offered by the wood biomass available in the region. (Logging & Sawmilling Journal will provide more information about the bioenergy conference in the magazine’s March/April issue.)                 

Show staff are working with the City of Prince George to once again offer live demonstrations of timber harvesting and log processing and handling on site at Exhibition Park. The spectacle proved highly popular at the 2006 show, with removal of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle epidemic.                                   

It’s anticipated Pro Trucker Magazine will sponsor one of its show and shine events at the show. They typically attract 100 participants with their working trucks of all descriptions along with classic and collector vehicles. Driver training and safety demonstrations involving large trucks will be part of lively, interactive displays.                                   

An expanded seminar program is being organized with expert keynote speakers and panelists from the forestry, mining and oil and gas industries.                                   

The seminar program theme, “We’re Not So Different,” could hardly be more appropriate. It will look at some of the shared elements between the industries, points out MaryAnne Arcand, who’s working on the seminar program’s organizing committee. These elements include: worker shortages, retaining, retraining and attracting the people needed; instilling and maintaining a culture of safety in all of the industries’ operations; and explaining the cyclical nature of resource industries and its impact.                                   

The expansion of mining and oil and gas operations on to lands traditionally used by the forest industry requires working collaboratively, explains Arcand.                                   

The seminars will tackle how the industries can do that while working with their respective regulatory and environmental regimes. They are also trying to involve the First Nations in a meaningful way along with communities affected by industrial operations in their areas, she adds.                                   

For registration details and more information on all aspects of Forest and Resources Expo, check out the show’s website at www.forestandresources.org, e-mail info@forestexpo.bc.ca or telephone (250) 563 8833.