• Rick Doucett

FORGING ON IN UNCERTAIN TIMES, AND LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

April 23, 2020



The world we face today is unlike any we have ever seen before.

Many of our friends and neighbours suddenly find themselves out of work. All our schools are shuttered, most businesses closed and we’re told to stay at home whenever we can for our own safety. Streets and roads are deserted.


“The forestry industry, however, forges on.

The COVID-19 pandemic, sweeping the world, has changed life in New Brunswick in ways that would have been unthinkable just a couple of months ago.

The forestry industry, however, forges on. Buying and selling continues, crews are working hard in the woods, mills continue to operate, at least for now.

I urge our members and others who continue to work through this to be vigilant in following physical distancing measures and other safety procedures. Please remember that safety is paramount and that it is vitally important to follow the information and advice of national and provincial health officials.

This is crucial to ensuring the safety not only of our fellow foresters but everyone around us, including our health-care workers who are essential to saving lives.


HARD WORK AND DEDICATION

This crisis highlights how essential forestry is to our province. If it were to grind to a halt, where would we be? Think back to the panic buying of toilet paper across Canada as this virus began its sweep.


“This crisis highlights how essential forestry is to our province.

Yes, there have been disruptions throughout the industry – lumber markets, for instance, have taken a hit as construction projects are halted. Business is not by any means normal. But thanks to the dedication of people throughout our sector in New Brunswick and across Canada, work continues as much as possible. The forest products sector in this country is essential to the production of the personal protective equipment now in high demand – pulp, for instance, is needed for hospital gowns.

I want to take a moment here to extend my gratitude to the hard work and commitment by our members and, indeed, people across the sector. I applaud you for your efforts, for being among the everyday heroes that are keeping essential services and products moving.

The impact of this highlights the extent that mechanization and automation have taken hold in the woods. It would not be possible to continue harvesting without it. Old-style logging operations could not safely continue, given the two-metre physical distancing rule imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

We are thankful that this allows forestry, one of New Brunswick’s most important economic contributors, to continue providing value at a time when most other sectors have wound down as people isolate at home.


NEW BRUNSWICK WILL EMERGE STRONGER


“Amid this shift, people and governments are realizing there is growing value in the trees themselves thanks to the increasing value of the products that can be made from them, including protective gear.

But automation also underscores what has been transpiring over time – the value in the sector is shifting. With increasing mechanization and automation, fewer people are working in the woods.

Amid this shift, people and governments are realizing there is growing value in the trees themselves thanks to the increasing value of the products that can be made from them, including protective gear.

It is impossible to know as I write this when we will emerge from this, but we will. In New Brunswick, we are known for our strength – particularly in the face of adversity. I know that when we get past this, we will be stronger people and a stronger province.

In the meantime, be well and be safe.

Thank you for listening,

Rick Doucett President, New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners


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