Langley, B.C. – Brian Hawrysh, CEO of the BC Wood Specialties Group Association, comments on the announcement from the BC Government on its plan to defer 2.6 million hectares of old growth across British Columbia.
This week’s announcement from BC’s government on old growth harvesting deferrals was at the same time confusing and potentially devastating to British Columbia’s Forest products industry and more than a hundred forestry dependent communities throughout the province. Equally concerning, is that BC’s value-added wood products manufacturers will likely bear a disproportional share of the job losses that will result from the planned deferrals.
There has been a great deal of commentary over the past few days on the likely negative impact on forest sector jobs that will result from the government’s recent decision. Minister Conroy herself suggested that as many as 4,500 jobs will be negatively affected by this decision, while Industry representatives and labor have predicted that 18,000 good, family-supporting jobs will be lost. What is clear though is that until government, industry and the other affected parties come together and engage with one another it will be very difficult to predict the actual impact of the announced old growth deferrals.
What is frustrating to those in BC’s value-added sector is that after months’ of listening to the current governments’ public commitment to increasing the value generated from the province’s annual timber harvest, the recent old growth announcement from the government appears to be a significant reversal of this stated policy, one which BC Wood and others in the provinces’ value-added wood products sector had been very supportive of.
Equally concerning is that the provinces’ old growth deferral plan seems to have been developed without any prior consultation with Indigenous Nations, forestry dependent communities, labour, forest professionals, or representatives from BC’s primary and value-added industry. It comes as no surprise that there have been significant concerns raised by these affected groups in the past few days.
BC Wood remains committed to a vision that value-added manufacturing will become an increasingly important part of a vibrant forest sector in the province. In recent years, BC’s value-added wood products sector witnessed a period of strong growth marked by new investments and employment growth. We are certain that BC has the potential to be home to an even larger value-added wood products sector that will continue to grow in an environmentally sustainable way, developing new innovative, carbon neutral products and generating social and economic benefits for the citizens of BC. Should the government move ahead with their old growth strategy without a well thought-out phase in approach, our manufacturers will not be able to adapt quick enough and we will lose some of the most innovative and dynamic companies in the industry.
Forest policy in the province must and will continue to evolve. BC Wood calls on the government to take a leadership roll and initiate serious discussions with Indigenous Nations, communities, industry, and labour in a collective effort to achieve the goal of a establishing a healthy, profitable and sustainable forest industry in the province.
About the BC Wood Specialties Group
BC Wood is a non-profit trade association representing the sixteen thousand employees and the six hundred manufacturers of value-added wood products in British Columbia. For more than thirty years, we have worked with industry to develop new markets and grow the sales for our products, and address challenges related to workforce development, supply chain constraints, skills training needs, and product develop that have negatively impacted growth in the value-added wood products sector.
BC’s value-added wood products manufacturers add value to wood harvested and create jobs in BC by producing a wide range of wood-based products including specialty lumber, shakes and shingles, siding, plywood, roof trusses, prefabricated housing, mass timber products, log and timber frame structures, furniture, railings, flooring, window frames, kitchen cabinets, wood residual products and other secondary wood products.