President & CEO, Coast Forest Products Association
Reflections on a Year Past – And a New Voice for a New Year
2017 was a year when British Columbia’s coastal forest industry was re-affirmed, once again, as an important cornerstone sector to growing BC’s strong and sustainable economy. A new economic study by PwC found that $12.9 billion of our province’s GDP comes from forestry with government receiving $4 billion in tax revenue every year from the sector. It also found that 140,000 British Columbians rely on forestry for their jobs with the stability of 140 BC communities dependent on a healthy industry.
2017 was also a year when the coastal BC forest sector made a number of gains. It continued to initiate new ways to further strengthen partnerships with First Nations. Connections with coastal communities were reinforced with Coast Forest Products Association signing a first-ever MOU with AVICC. Also, Forestry Friendly Communities, an initiative aimed at reinforcing ties between industry and communities, was launched. Forestry companies collaborated with all levels of government to find better, smarter ways to protect species and forest habitat. Great strides were made in utilizing the world’s most sustainably-harvested wood in construction projects both at home and around the globe. Companies continued to elevate the industry by improving their operations, technology and products to become better, smarter and more sustainable. Overseas markets were further developed for coastal forest products.
Headwinds also continued for BC’s coastal forest industry in 2017. Companies looked for ways to successfully compete in markets around the globe. The softwood lumber dispute resulted in unwarranted duties. Access to fibre and certainty on the land base continued to be an ongoing challenge and will persist as governments translate political commitments into policy. In addition, delivered log costs have dramatically escalated to the point of impairing the economic viability of the coastal forest products manufacturing sector and their suppliers. Combined, these two challenges diminish our ability and capacity to compete in the global marketplace. More insidiously, they inhibit the sector’s ability to make the business case for much-needed investments that are required to drive innovation, support a sustainable industry, generate government revenue and provide thousands of forestry jobs both today and into the future. The end of 2017 paints a difficult and problematic picture.
As the highs and lows of 2017 continue into the new year, they will be addressed with a new voice for the coast. BC coastal forestry, as represented by Coast Forest will be united with the BC Council of Forest Industries. Together we will continue to look to the future as we always have – with resilience, persistence and optimism.
From all of us at Coast Forest Products Association, we wish you a merry Christmas and a very happy holiday season.