With significantly reduced timber supply, record wildfire seasons, and lower prices for Western spruce, fir, and pine lumber, the Province is launching an initiative to focus on ways to increase value-added production from a reduced wood fibre supply in the Interior.
Premier John Horgan announced the initiative Friday during a speech to the Council of Forest Industries that is hosting its annual convention this week in Vancouver.
President & CEO, Susan Yurkovich said she is confident the industry will remain a cornerstone of the provincial economy.
“If we steward it well, I think a hundred percent,” Yurkovich said.
“There are challenges no doubt but there are also continued to be opportunities for us to innovate to find different utilizations of fibre, to move up the value chain, to explore new markets, to push further into Asia with our products.”
Yurkovich said while there are certainly challenges on the trade front, they are addressing them and believes that they will be successful in challenging the US using the NAFTA and World Trade Organization processes.
She said the one thing the sector has in spades, is a highly resilient industry with innovative and skilled folks.
Forestry generates one in five jobs in the Cariboo, Northeast, North Coast, and Nechako.
Horgan said he already has written to the chief executives of Interior forest companies, inviting them to lead the process with government and to partner with labour leaders, First Nations, and communities to chart a sustainable path forward.
“This will be a local process, led by those who are committed to the future of forestry in their regions, and who are willing to do the tough work to create a shared vision of a prosperous, competitive industry,” Horgan said.
“We will expect the results to maximize the potential of the existing timber supply, maintain jobs, incorporate First Nations’ interests, and address the economic, cultural, recreational and other uses of B.C.’s land base.”
This renewal strategy comes just months after government launched a similar initiative for the coastal forest industry.