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April 2005  - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal

Alberta launches logger certification program

By Tony Kryzanowski

 

Programs like Master Logger will assist Alberta’s primary industry in its continuing campaign to answer critics and to demonstrate that forest management in the province’s boreal forest is being done in a sustainable manner.

Alberta is the first Canadian jurisdiction to launch a Master Logger certification program to recognize those loggers who are making the investment to improve their knowledge of health and safety, business, and forest management practices. Managed by the Forest Industry Suppliers and Logging Association (FISLA), a major public awareness and registration push for the program will be launched at this year’s Northern Alberta Forestry Show.

Logging contractors endorsed the Alberta Master Logger Program (AMLP) at a logging conference last May in Grande Prairie. Since then, both industry and government have expressed support for the program.

According to FISLA executive director Ken Glover, the program’s launch couldn’t have come at a better time with some environmental groups having set their sights on raising public awareness of forest management practices in Alberta’s boreal forest. One group called Forest Ethics recently placed a full page advertisement in the New York Times making specific reference to forest management practices in this region.

Logging contractors endorsed the Alberta Master Logger Program at a logging conference last year in Grande Prairie. Since then, both industry and government have expressed support for the program.

“We want to be pro-active and more aggressive in demonstrating our professional skills,” says Glover. “Otherwise, we are going to have areas closed off and loggers unemployed and laid off, not to mention mills closing.”

Glover adds that logging is front line forest management, yet it is not necessarily regarded as such. Programs like Master Logger will assist primary industry in its continuing campaign to answer critics and to demonstrate that forest management in Alberta’s boreal forest is being done in a sustainable manner.

There is no cost to register in the Master Logger program for contractors who are already members of FISLA or the Woodlands Operations Learning Foundation (WOLF), or who are established contractors with forestry companies. All others must pay $200 plus GST.

Companies registered with the Master Logger program can compile their education and training credits toward the highest level of achievement, which is accredited status.

The program is available to logging companies of all sizes. While the criteria to achieve accreditation for single owner/operators is different compared to companies with large fleets and many employees, one of the main criteria for all loggers is that they must have a Certificate of Recognition through the Partners of Injury Reduction program offered through the Workers’ Compensation Board and the Alberta government. Following that, loggers must take a minimum amount of training in two specific categories, which will help to improve their knowledge in the areas of business and forest management.

Glover emphasizes that FISLA will not dictate which specific courses loggers must take or where they must be taken. In most cases, however, loggers will likely have to do more than what they are doing now to achieve accredited status. “We make no distinction where logging contractors pursue their training,” says Glover. “Part of that training may involve simply attending a health and safety course delivered by someone in the primary industry.” The Master Logger program is geared toward “recording and acknowledging,” he says.

Alberta’s program is largely based on the program offered by the Oregon Professional Loggers’ Association because of Oregon’s long history with accreditation. It was developed so that instruction received by loggers was geared toward sustainable forest management practices in line with the requirements that forest companies must meet to achieve forest certification. What’s noteworthy is that in Oregon, Georgia-Pacific has decreed that it will only purchase wood from loggers that are accredited as professional loggers.

Glover says that FISLA has no power to dictate to Alberta’s large forest companies nor is there any intention to seek legislation making the Master Logger program mandatory. However, he adds, “I would love to see the primary industry acknowledge the program’s contribution and merit to our entire industry and embrace it accordingly.” He says some companies in Alberta already require their contractors to have a Certificate of Recognition through the Partners of Injury Reduction program.

Further investigation in Oregon by FISLA revealed that their professional loggers are not faced with any additional cost by participating in their accreditation program, receive recognition for achieving accreditation, and that accreditation is generating more business opportunities for them.

“That’s what we hope will happen here,” says Glover. “We also hope that down the road it will mean more stability and better rates for loggers that achieve accredited status and demonstrate greater efficiencies and skills.”

As an important first step to recognizing the significance of registering in the Master Logger program, FISLA is promoting those registered in the program as preferred contractors for logging private forestland throughout Alberta.                                                                                

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