Old-growth logs head to a mill from a Fraser River log sort. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Log exports high on agenda for B.C. NDP and forest industry

Coastal old growth not running out, logger group says

Forest industry leaders are gathering in Vancouver this week to hear from the B.C. government how it will move ahead on the province’s log export policies, after years of NDP demands while in opposition to reduce log exports in an effort to keep local sawmills going.

B.C. cabinet orders allowing logging contractors on the Central and North Coast to export up to 20 per cent of their unprocessed logs are due to expire at the end of January. It was reduced from 35 per cent by the previous B.C. Liberal government in 2013, with a portion retained to keep logging companies working in remote regions where there are few viable options for trucking to sawmills.

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson are expected to address the annual convention of the Truck Loggers Association, which has argued for many years that premium log export revenues are vital to keep loggers in business so they can also harvest lower-grade timber to bring to B.C. mills.

RELATED: Export laws hurt Northwest B.C. forest companies

RELATED: Winter Harbour moving from logging to tourism

Contractors are also waiting to hear recommendations from former NDP premier Dan Miller, hired by the current government last summer to find ways to help struggling logging contractors stay in business. They face high equipment costs, skilled labour shortages and movement into more remote timber cutting areas.

B.C. Interior loggers are facing sharply reduced timber harvest levels in the wake of widespread pine beetle infestations, aggravated by two straight record years for forest fire area. The combination of Interior log supply reduction and a slump in U.S. lumber prices has led to multiple sawmill closures and shift reductions in recent months.

The coastal industry, meanwhile, faces a steady stream of environmental attacks on logging of old-growth trees. This is despite the increase in protected areas that has led to a one-third drop in annual allowable cut in coastal forests since 1985.

TLA executive director Dave Elstone has been outspoken in response to urban media reports based on claims by groups such as Sierra Club B.C., which recently compared the province to Brazil in its threat to rainforest preservation.

“Through existing conservation efforts, we are never going to run out of old growth on Vancouver Island,” Elstone wrote in response to a Vancouver newspaper’s promotion of Sierra Club claims.

“In fact, it is the law in B.C. to replant and reforest with natural, indigenous species for all areas harvest on Crown land; 200 million trees are planted annually in B.C., or about three seedlings for every tree that is harvested.”

Statistics Canada reported this week that while B.C. pulp and newsprint exports rose more than 20 per cent in 2018, lumber exports dipped slightly between January and November compared to the same period in 2017.

With wood products demand slowing in China, log exports fell much more, 8.9 per cent, in the same period. Value-added wood product exports were also down 3.5 per cent, and cedar shake and shingle shipments fell by more than 21 per cent.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

It’s on: Rosslanders to go to the polls in April

Nomination period closed on Friday, three in running

Sexual assault stories from treeplanting camps ‘shocking but not surprising’

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Sweet way to raise money for furry friends in need

Fundraiser underway until March 1 at West Kootenay Animal Clinic

Trucking company fined $175K for Lemon Creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Toddler killed in Squamish grocery store parking lot

Child’s mother taken to hospital but her condition is not known

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Most Read