Community forests contribute to Olympic podiums

It was with great pride that Robin Hood, President of the BC Community Forest Association, participated in the unveiling of the podiums for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Fourteen of the twenty three Olympic podiums are built from wood donated by community forests.

“We are really enthusiastic about this project,” said Hood. “It is a great way to showcase community forestry to the world and to demonstrate our ability to provide high quality wood for high value projects. We are the farmers market of the forest industry.”

Community Forests are managed by municipalities, First Nations, cooperatives and societies for the benefit of the local community. In these difficult times, community forests are staying nimble and thinking out of the box. Marc von der Gonna of the McBride Community Forest says, “We may be small, but our entrepreneurial spirit and forestry are world class.”

Who was behind the making of the Podiums? From the left Vincent Leung – UBC- CNC Specialist, Len Leroux – Podium Project Manager, James Lee – VANOC Industrial Designer,Lawrence Gunther – UBC – CNC Specialist. BCCFA’s Susan Mulkey and Jennifer Gunter visited the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing on the day the crew was building the last of the 23 podiums.

View the beautiful Podium Profiles of the Community Forests that proudly donated wood for the podiums

BCCFA Introduction Profile
Jennifer Gunter, BCCFA Executive Director, “Community forestry celebrates the spirit of teamwork, community and stewardship. We are extremely proud of the B.C. community forests that are providing the Olympics with natural, beautiful wood for the podium project.”

Bella Coola Community Forest Profile
Wayne Bittner, owner, Redline Falling Ltd; contract faller and logging truck driver, born and raised in Bella Coola. “I usually work around the province, so the opportunity to work at home is great. The community forest is providing that opportunity.” “Go, Canada Go!”

Cheslatta First Nation Community Forest Profile
Chief Corrina Leween, Cheslatta Carrier Nation.“The Cheslatta Carrier Nation has always been proactive in our community by establishing partnerships in economic development, health and community services, and have always considered all British Columbians to be our partners inour ventures. The podium project provides a venue to showcase a small part of our heritage and our history.”

Dungate (Houston) Community Forest Profile
Nipper Kettle, Deputy Mayor, District of Houston. “Forestry is the backbone of our economy and a renewable source of energy. To have this wood harvested by our local mills and workers is indeed a great honour. The podium is where the best of the best gets to stand and salute the world.”

Fort St James Community Forest Profile
Mayor Sandra Harwood, District of Fort St. James. “The Olympics are about excellence in sport, so it’s a perfect opportunity to highlight excellence in forest management as well. Community Forests are a perfect example of this.”

Ktunaxa Nation Community Forest Profile
Kathryn Teneese, Chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council and Chief Treaty Negotiator for the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council. “The Ktunaxa are very proud to be a part of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and hope to see many Canadians atop the podium made from our donation of Western Larch. How larch, or k’ustit’ in our language, adapts to seasonal change is symbolic of the Ktunaxa People’s ability to endure and succeed through adversity.”

Likely Xat’sull First Nation Community Forest Profile
Robin Hood, Manager, Likely Xat’sull Community Forest Ltd. “The community forest is our neighbourhood. We don’t just work in community forestry, we live it.”

McBride Community Forest Profile
Marc von der Gonna, General Manager, McBride Community Forest Corp. “Donating wood to the Olympic podium project is the perfect example of McBride’s spirit and what the Community Forest can do. We may be small, but our entrepreneurial spirit and forestry are world class.”

Mission Community Forest Profile
Mayor James Atebe, District of Mission. “We’ll take great pride as a community when athletes of the world step onto the podium that our community provided. I truly believe it will heighten local appreciation for what the Games and the athletes represent.”

Powell River Community Forest Profile
Chris Laing, Community Forest general manager. “It’s very rewarding to know that when we grab our tools and put on our boots to go work in the community forest, we are supporting local people and businesses and ultimately working to support community improvements in our City.”

Prince George Community Forest Profile
Wylie (William) Kitt, certified faller and city firefighter harvested most of the trees that went into the podium. “The Olympic and Paralympic Games bring the world together. I’m honoured that wood from the Prince George Community Forest was chosen.”

Revelstoke Community Forest Profile
Geoff Battersby, president, Revelstoke Community Forest Corp. “The podium project provides a welcome opportunity for Revelstoke to showcase its excellent forest products – cedar in particular – and gives the community an opportunity to be a part of the 2010 Olympics.”

Sunshine Coast (Sechelt) Community Forest Profile
Mayor Darren Inkster, District of Sechelt “Our Community Forest is an important economic driver to the District of Sechelt and the entire Sunshine Coast, providing jobs for our local workers and businesses while operating the forest in accordance with the values of our community. It is
an honour to have Olympians standing on wood harvested from our community!”

Wells Gray (Clearwater) Community Forest Profile
Sharon Neufeld, director, Wells Gray Community Forest Corp, “Our community has thrived on forestry and the land. Our family and everyone in Clearwater is linked in some way to the forest’s resources, be it logging, hunting, firewood, trapping, berry picking or recreation.”

Westbank First Nation Community Forest Profile
Grant Thompson, Westbank First Nation forestry manager, “The community forest provides our membership with meaningful employment, decision-making on resources, and reinforces our connection to the land. The podium project extends that connection to the Olympics and the world.”

The Wood Podiums of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games

23 wood podiums will be at 11 venues to support individual and team victory ceremonies. Each podium was built from one of 18 different wood types, harvested and donated by communities, First Nations, companies and individuals from across British Columbia. Fourteen were built from wood donated by community forests, two from family run woodlots, two from cities, six from businesses, and five from First Nations.

The podiums range from 480cm to 1525 cm in length, 170 to 500 cm in depth and 30 to 60 cm in height. The lightest podium, built of Western Red Cedar, weighs approximately 200 kilograms. Each podium is assembled from more than 200 wooden pieces.

The wood was harvested near communities as small as a few hundred (Cheslatta Carrier Nation) to cities with more than 80,000 residents (Kamloops), as far north as Fort St. James to Clayquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island and from as far south and east as the Ktunaxa Nation near Cranbrook.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests and Range sourced the wood and co-ordinated podium production. The rough lumber was converted to panels at Metro Vancouver’s Bayview Millworks, a high-end wood product manufacturer and distributor.

The panels were cut into complex shapes using sophisticated computer controlled machinery at the University of British Columbia’s state-of-the-art Centre for Advanced Wood Processing. The University is a world leader in providing high-tech training and assistance to industry, and prepares students through an award-winning B.Sc. Wood Products Processing Program.

The podiums were assembled at Canadian hardware retail leader RONA’s Vancouver 2010 Fabrication Shop, a community-based training centre that teaches carpentry skills to new Canadians and at-risk youth.

The wood podiums highlight the importance of forestry in British Columbia. The province is a global leader in sustainable forest management and the world’s largest exporter of softwood lumber, paper and bio-energy products that help mitigate climate change and provide innovative solutions to green building and energy needs.

Individual profiles of each of the 23 podiums, including community contact information and high-definition clips of construction and interviews with donors are available for re-broadcast at

Read the full BC Provincial Government news release and related information

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