Export diversification key for forestry industry’s future

Posted by Rumin Mann
April 15th, 2011

Can British Columbia’s forestry industry ever learn to diversify its export portfolio?

It seems as if the industry and its policy-makers in government have replaced a historical market reliance on the United States with a newfound, emerging reliance on China.

Canadian softwood lumber was so dependent on the American market that -after the American housing crash in the latter half of the last decade -the softwood lumber industry collapsed into a doomsday crisis that saw prices, production levels, and, subsequently, forestry-related jobs plunging to unimaginable lows.

As most timber in Canada is owned by the provinces, the responsibility for sensible forestry management lies with the provincial government.

Since taxpayers essentially pay for the ownership of timber lands, policymakers have a fiduciary duty to work with industry in order to maximize the return from this resource in a way that best benefits the province.

So whether it was the stress from depressed stock prices or out-of-work mill workers, provincial policy-makers mobilized to pull the industry out of calamity.

While British Columbia has established trade and opportunities offices throughout Asia (and not just in China), the Ministry of Forests should make a concerted effort with BC Wood so that the necessary firm -and state -relationships are fostered to promote B.C. lumber abroad.

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