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Rick Jeffery

President & CEO, Coast Forest Products Association

B.C. forest industry stands tall again


New research shows plenty of reason to support a modern, redefined forest industry

When paycheques find their way into bank accounts around the province this Friday or next, almost 150,000 British Columbians will have B.C.’s backbone industry to thank for at least a piece of that deposit, all of it for some 58,000 people directly employed by forestry.

Now, 150,000 may not seem like a big number in a city the size of Vancouver. But in a place such as Williams Lake, where two in seven people are employed directly in the industry, it means plenty.

And the trickle-down impacts of these first-dollar jobs in coastal and interior communities are felt all the way down to the business centre of the province, where five of the world’s top 100 forest companies have their head offices, and where lawyers, accountants, bankers, insurance, trucking and rail companies and many others realize much of their income from the industry’s activities.

A recently-completed economic impact report, commissioned by our organizations and prepared by MNP, sheds new light on the importance of a redefined forest industry in B.C.

This newspaper recently took a position that the forest industry is one of the leading innovators in the province, and that other resource industries can learn plenty from us.

We couldn’t agree more.

Not only does our industry produce lumber and innovative, high-value goods, we also use residuals from the forests to generate energy, pulp and paper and wood pellets.

We’re dedicated to continuing to find new ways to make the most of our forest resources. We do it all with an eye to sustainability that is unequalled in the world. B.C. plants 200 million trees a year and our forests capture two billion tonnes of carbon annually. This province has more forest land covered by third party certification than any other country in the world. That’s something to be proud of.

B.C. forestry represents an integrated part of the province’s economic value chain. We contribute $12 billion to provincial GDP and a combined $2.4 billion in revenues flows from our industry to the three levels of government in the form of taxes and other fees.

We engage with governments and groups to ensure healthy, sustainable communities that are also supported by the forest economy. We are dedicated to continuing to develop strong partnerships with First Nations.

At a more local level, forest companies provide jobs to people across B.C. (40 per cent of B.C. communities are dependent on forestry). We purchase goods and services from our communities. We provide the largest number of manufacturing jobs of any industry in the province. Businesses of all kinds rely on people working in our industry to purchase their goods and services.

In other words, a modern, healthy B.C. forest industry supports the stability of our homes and communities.

But there is much more work to be done.

Both the coastal and interior industries face challenges. For example, the devastating Mountain Pine Beetle infestation in the interior resulted in the largest timber salvage operation in the province’s history. That operation is nearing conclusion and the annual allowable cut will necessarily decline. Timber supply will be affected for decades to come and milling capacity will need to be adjusted.

However, we believe B.C.’s forest industry will maintain its position as the backbone of B.C.’s economy, with more investment in remaining mills, improved competitiveness and high levels of family supporting jobs for generations to come.

By pursuing new partnerships with First Nations and working closely with the provincial government to ensure policy helps bolster the competitiveness of the industry, we can continue to be recognized as world leaders in our sector.

James Gorman is president and CEO of the Council of Forest Industries.
Rick Jeffery is president and CEO of the Coast Forest Products Association.

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