The forest : the last stop of the unemployed

The forest may be the sector where the breach of labour will be the largest in the coming years.

Photo credit : Courtesy

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The forest sector is the sector that will suffer the most from the lack of workforce in the Beauce region.

“The forest is much more injured than the others because it is really the last place where people want to work,” says André Emery, director of Groupement Forestier Chaudière Saint-Victor.

Before opting for the flies, the heat and the changing climate conditions, the workers will opt for the factory. It may be that the true lovers of the wood, to resist the inexorable shrinking of the available workforce for this sector.

The most recent Employment figures Québec show that the unemployment rate in December 2017 has reached a low-boggling 2.4% in Chaudière-Appalaches. This is a decline of 2.7% in a year, while in Quebec, the unemployment declined by only 1%.

Forest management

The average age of workers in this sector is 65 years. These workers are less numerous and it is difficult to replace. “In the harvesting and development, there is a lack of engineers and technicians, but workers in forestry even more,” adds André Emery.

The machine has not yet supplanted the human in this area. The tasks in the development are more difficult to cultivate mechanically. The sweat of the arm is always better to use a trimmer or judge what tree it is necessary to cut and what to keep.

To recruit foreign workers has become the main alternative. “Unless there is suddenly a large number of the unemployed, I fear that we are going to get there. These are not trades easy”, adds André Emery.

To package or not ?

@R:The loggers to the buzzsaw of yesterday have become the operators of harvesters today. The trend is heavy for the small private forests of the Beauce. They are more likely to under-treat the harvest with contractors package. They take 40% to 60% of the revenue from the harvested timber. There is less in their pockets.

Equip

Others choose to equip. The small owner buys a backhoe, a winch. This allows him to reduce the time spent in the wood. “The way of improvement is to equip and […] allow him to continue to develop its forest and find its profitability to small scale,” says Michel Roy, director of communications at the Association of woodlot owners in the Beauce (APBB). The average size of the members of the association shall be 40 hectares.

Every year, several will rendezvous with the exhibition forest of Beauce. The event Saint-Georges is the opportunity for owners to familiarize themselves with the new equipment and industry trends.

Green wave

The rural exodus of the ’80s and ’90s has created a considerable number of derelict sites. The less fertile lands and rugged have been converted into plantations of trees. In the space of about 20 years, the Groupement forestier Chaudière is past two million trees to be planted per year to about 200,000.

These trees are nearing maturity. “We are in the middle of the commercial first thinning and in little time we’ll fall in the second and the final cut. This is where it really pays off. Within a few years, we are going to have boom,” predicts Andrew Emery.

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