The provincial government today released its agenda to enhance the competitiveness of B.C.’s forest sector so that it continues to make investments and provide family-supporting jobs in communities throughout the province.
The agenda called “Strong Past, Bright Future” contains 49 strategic actions to address three key inter-related goals: healthy, resilient forests; diverse, globally competitive industry; and stable communities and First Nations.
B.C. is recognized worldwide as a leading jurisdiction for the production of high-quality wood products from sustainably managed forests. However, government recognizes the need to address the challenges that may undermine the industry’s ability to compete, from the impact of the mountain pine beetle on interior forests to market uncertainty.
This agenda sets the stage to improve B.C.’s competitive position, maximize the value derived from B.C.’s forests, and tap into innovation. The agenda is supported by other recent government programs, including the three-year $75-million Rural Dividend and $85 million for the newly created Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. Other key actions in the plan announced today include:
- Enhancing the promotion of B.C. wood products globally, focusing on the province’s strong regulatory environment and the benefits of B.C.’s wood products.
- Through Forestry Innovation Investment, promoting new wood-construction technology to global markets and developing non-traditional uses of wood and wood-pulp fibres.
- Advancing opportunities for forest carbon management and promoting greater use of lower-value wood and wood residue in support of the province’s climate leadership goals.
- Investing in timber supply and restoring forests impacted by the mountain pine beetle and wildfire.
- Strengthening timber-supply data using state-of-the art technology to provide a completely updated forest inventory by 2023.
- Maintaining healthy forest ecosystems that support values such as fish and wildlife ecosystem biodiversity, clean water, recreation, fibre for forest products, and forest carbon storage.
- Continuing to enhance First Nations’ participation in the forest sector, and encouraging business-to-business relationships between First Nations tenure holders and forestry firms.
- Creating more trades and training seats at post-secondary institutions, targeting funding for occupations in demand.
The agenda released today is supported by two additional forest sector plans, the Value-Added Sector Action Plan, and British Columbia Pulp and Paper Sustainability: Sector Challenges and Future Opportunities. These follow the Province’s Forest Fibre Action Plan released in September 2015.
Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson –
“Government is focused on maintaining the forest sector’s position as a driving force in B.C.’s economy, especially in rural communities. This will sustain jobs, provide a secure future for resource communities, and deliver benefits to all British Columbians.”
Council of Forest Industries president and CEO Susan Yurkovich –
“B.C. high-quality forest products are shipped around the globe, as our industry competes with producers in many other parts of the world. Ensuring that we have the conditions in our province that allow our industry to compete successfully is critical if we are going to sustain our sector and attract investment to it. We are pleased to see the Province focus on the challenges of competitiveness that face the forest sector and we look forward to working with the Province and industry partners.”
Coast Forest Products Association president and CEO Rick Jeffery –
“The coast forest industry applauds the government for working to set a competitiveness agenda for the forest sector. By delivering benefits such as process improvements and efficiencies, this agenda ensures that coastal forest companies will continue to compete in the global marketplace and provide almost 40,000 jobs.”
Catalyst Paper Corp. CEO Joe Nemeth –
“The challenges facing the pulp and paper industry require urgent attention and strategic actions. This report outlines that we are committed to making our facilities globally competitive so we can serve higher growth, sustainable market pulp and paper segments and create low-carbon, fibre-based bio-products and renewable energy solutions by leveraging the integrated advantages of the B.C. forest products sector.”
BC Wood Board chair Rob Mitchell –
“Value-added is an important component of B.C.’s forest sector, especially in smaller communities around the Province. We’re looking forward to working with government to implement the recommendations that will support growth in our sector. We are also pleased with the commitment of $200,000 to Forestry Innovation Investment to support efforts to grow B.C.’s share of the value-added wood products market.”
- In 2015, B.C.’s forest sector directly supported 65,500 well-paying jobs – more than 140 rural economies depend on it.
- B.C. is one of the world’s largest exporters of softwood lumber, and a significant global producer of pulp, paper and bioenergy. It accounts for more than one-third of Canada’s forest products exports.
- Two-thirds of B.C.’s land base, or 55 million hectares, is forested. Despite the impact of the mountain pine beetle in the interior, B.C. forests have millions of hectares of quality commercial tree species – and a fraction of one per cent is harvested annually.
Strong Past, Bright Future: A Competitiveness Agenda for British Columbia’s Forest Sector, along with the Value Added Sector Action Plan, British Columbia Pulp and Paper Sustainability: Sector Challenges and Future Opportunities, and other supporting documents, can be found at:
4 backgrounders follow.