Wildfire Field Tour with Weyerhaeuser

The severity of the 2023 wildfires cast a shadow over many communities in Alberta this past summer. One community, Drayton Valley, was at the epicentre of a forest fire crisis that swept through the province, leaving devastation and uncertainty. Zachary Cole, Silvacom FMS Director, visited the wildfire damage on the Weyerhaeuser Pembina Timberlands Forest Management Area (FMA) late in August. Weyerhaeuser is a long-standing strategic partner with Silvacom and uses Silvacom FMS to manage their Canada-wide operations. 

Wildfires started in early May and have burned approximately 20% of Weyerhaeuser's one million-hectare FMA. This created a massive challenge for the planning team: getting new plans approved would allow for the salvage of tens of thousands of hectares of timber that had been burned. 

The Weyerhaeuser team uses Silvacom FMS to facilitate the planning cycle, utilizing live wildfire hotspot data from NASA and fire boundary layers consumed from the Government of Alberta. Many other operational datasets are used to determine which timber should be prioritized for salvage, as it is not feasible to salvage everything; the most valuable and operationally accessible stands must be targeted. 


In many cases, trees can be so burnt that they are not salvageable; however, these logs can be harvested, transported to the mill, and milled into lumber or oriented strand board (OSB). 

Though we only visited a small portion of the damage, it was astonishing to see the scope of the fire and better understand the impacts on communities that heavily rely on the forest's resources. It was amazing to see the commitments that Weyerhaeuser employees have made to their community, working closely as a team to save the town of Drayton Valley while the fires were out of control and now to ensure that the mill keeps running and that community members have continued employment. 


The 2023 Alberta forest fires are a stark reminder of the urgent need for innovative approaches to wildfire prevention, management, and community resilience in the face of massive wildfire events.  

If you want to learn more about Silvacom FMS, please schedule a discovery call with a team member. 

Topics: FMS News & Updates

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