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Swedish forest owners tour northern B.C.

A busload of Swedish forest owners and operators tour Prince George mill operations Tuesday. Bill Phillips photo

A busload of forest professionals are touring through northern B.C. this week.

What makes this busload different is that they are all from Sweden. The group of about 50 forest owners and managers toured through Prince George Tuesday, stopping at Brink Forest Products where founder and CEO John Brink took them on a short tour of mills in the area.

It’s the seventh year for the tour, organized by Swedish tour company Skogsresor.

“We’ve arrived (in Calgary) August 16 and we love it (in Canada),” said Jan Hedberg, of Skogsresor. “It’s very close to the Swedish way of living. There are lot of feelings of being connected to Canada.”

From Calgary the tour came through Jasper to Prince George, viewing forest operations along the way. It will make its way to Prince Rupert before flying Vancouver to view forest operations in the Lower Mainland before heading back to Sweden.

“We want to get an idea of how Canada is working with forestry and see the lovely nature,” Hedberg said.

After Prince George the tour members were off to Vanderhoof to meet with B.C. Forest Service personnel and woodlot operators, which is what many of the tour members are.

“We are curious about wildfire and how you deal with it in Canada,” Heberg said. “We had problems with fire. Last year was the worst year for fire since the 1800s. There’s a lot of discussion in Sweden on how to protect the forest from fires.”

A very warm summer last year has also created an beetle problem as well.

“We are 15 years after (Canada), so that’s why it’s important to meet and hear what problems you’ve had.”

John Brink (left), founder and CEO of Brink Forest Products, and Jan Hedberg of Skogsresort, a Swedish tour company, in Prince George Tuesday. Bill Phillips photo

Heberg and Brink met 2010 when Hedberg was in Canada researching tour opportunities and the stop at Brink Forest Products has become a staple of the annual tour.

 “They are really interested in Canada,” Brink said. “Coming to the Prince George area is one of their highlights. We tell them about the significance of northern British Columbia and Prince George why it is such a dominant area in the forest industry in Canada and North America.”

Sweden is similar to B.C. in that the forest land base is almost identical and they harvest mostly spruce, but the industry has been around a lot longer.

“What it is interesting about what they are doing compared to us is they are already into second and third growth because their industry is much more established,” said Brink.

He said he is interested in what the Swedes are they doing in terms of forest research, getting more fibre per acre and adding more value to the resource.

“They have more secondary manufacturing,” Brink said. “They tend to get more volume per hectare and they extra more value per cubic metre and they employ more people, on a comparative basis. So these are all things to learn.”

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