sustainable forest management on both crown and private lands is achieved by thorough planning and Responsible practices
During the planning stage, ATCO's Forestry Management team prefers to go that 'extra mile', managing above minimum legislative requirements. We find this helps us achieve a high level of environmental performance and standards.
ATCO is a responsible steward of the land, being innovative and adaptive when dealing with destructive forest agents (forest health and fire issues) as they arise.
Our planning mechanism sets the stage to manage for the conservation of soil, air, water quality, biological diversity, wildlife, riparian, recreation and aesthetics. Having our own in-house GIS (digital mapping) department also plays a role in the efficiency of the planning stage.
ATCO Wood Products' goal is to extract the timber resource from the land base in an efficient and timely manner while minimizing environmental impact. ATCO achieves this by having a layout team comprised of experienced and educated professional/technical staff and in-house consultants. With our expertise, we are able to complete a majority of the field layout and assessments in-house in an accurate and efficient manner. Efficiency is gained by two means: 1) local knowledge of the area gained through years of experience, and 2) taking advantage of technological advancements in the industry (GPS, Vertex, tablets, LiDAR, drones and current software). For areas that fall outside our area of expertise, ATCO has built an arsenal of resource professional contacts that complete work in an efficient and timely manner.
To ensure the accuracy of each project plan with current legislation and resources issues each project is field reviewed by our signing foresters.
Once the fieldwork and data collection is complete, the field data is compiled by our experienced and knowledgeable staff into the digital format preferred by the Ministry of Forests, which ensures timely approvals when required.
When it comes to harvesting and road construction activities, ATCO Wood Products' goal is to operate in a manner that limits environmental impact. To achieve this from a harvesting standpoint, ATCO has a team of local dedicated contractors that each specializes in one of the several methods of harvesting (mechanized conventional/small cat/cable). This wide array of local talent allows ATCO to select the right machine for the job. To minimize environmental impacts from road construction, ATCO implements a Total Chance Planning approach which minimizes the amount of permanent main access roads on the land base. For spur roads that do not provide future access, ATCO implements road recontouring practices that bring this land back to productive forest land. ATCO ensures that all contractors strive for a high environmental protection standard through routine training and field inspections.
When it comes to silvicultural activities, ATCO Wood Products has a reputation for being the "flagship" within the two Crown Forest Districts it operates in. Private land clients are equally impressed with the results they have seen.
ATCO is proud to plant over 1 million seedlings each year. This is accomplished through planning and ordering a large variety of species suited for various sites/elevations. The average Regen Delay (time between the start of harvest operations and completion of planting) is 0.8 years. Reducing Regen Delay restores hydrological, visual and wildlife concerns more quickly.
Managing and Monitoring
Proper site rehabilitation prior to planting preserves and improves soil productivity while ensuring all sub-surface water flows maintain their natural courses. Rehabilitation also helps to reduce the visual impact of the cutblock. ATCO Wood Products upholds an aggressive Site Rehabilitation program on both Crown and private lands. This approach definitely pays big dividends in the long term.
Blocks are surveyed one, three and five years after being planted to ensure seedling survival and to monitor deleterious vegetation competition.
Due to prompt planting, proper species selection and close monitoring, over 85% of our Crown blocks achieve the Ministry of Forests' Free Growing milestone at the earliest possible date in the Free Growing 'window'.
Free Growing is when a block reaches a state where the Crown is confident that the trees are healthy and free of deleterious brush competition and will continue to grow to be a mature forest without any further treatments. The Free Growing “window” has minimum average tree heights and minimum and maximum age requirements. The Free Growing milestone is the point where the silviculture obligation for a block has been fulfilled and the block is given back to the Crown.