Column: New year marks increasing challenges in forest industry

I came up with a list of issues that I would like to discuss with the class and think this list will be of interest to Forest Ink readers.

In preparation for a forestry course I am involved with I reviewed a number of books and articles on forest issues in B.C. I came up with a list of issues that I would like to discuss with the class and think this list will be of interest to Forest Ink readers. I would appreciate any suggestions as to what sources I may have missed.

My intention is to use future issues of Forest Ink to review some of these sources.

I am trying to get a good cross section of authors with a variety of backgrounds.

In general the sources are from industry, conservation, government and academia. As you would expect the opinions are often contradictory and will likely be provocative to some readers.

The following are short excerpts from a few of the sources and I trust readers will agree the issues raised are important to the future direction of the forest industry.

Unfortunately the industry is in the midst of the most severe crisis in its 140 year history. In a few short years it has gone from being North America’s lowest cost producer of wood products to one of the highest.

The number of B.C. forest sector jobs has been diminishing since 2000. i.e. from 24.4 per cent to 11 per cent. Or 99,000 persons to 52,000.

B.C. recovered much faster than the rest of Canada for forest products exports, mainly due to its promotion in and access to China.

The change from the Forest Practices Code Act to the Forest and Range Practices Act is the result of two powerful and broad and sometimes countervailing forces; i.e. emphasis on non timber forest values versus maintenance of employment in the forest sector.

Global competition from countries with lower environmental standards is bringing economic pressure to bear of B.C.’s forest industries.

The provincial forest tenure system no longer provides the economic and social benefits it was designed to deliver and is a root cause of the forest industry’s failure to maintain its competitive position in the global economy.

Three approaches to tenure reform that demand major institutional restructuring of the current system present themselves; corporatization, privatization and decentralization.

The Canadian forest industry has committed to being carbon neutral across all of its operations by 2015 without having to buy carbon offset credits.

According to B.C.’s harvest billing system 3.5 million cubic metres of wood (enough to fill 100,000 logging trucks) was left on the ground (and probably burned) between Oct. 1, 2005 and Nov. 1 2006.

Tolko installed a gasifier which was able to convert wood waste into low cost clean synthetic gas that replaced natural gas and saved the company an estimated $1.5 million annually.

The following is a partial list of the resources I will be reviewing:

Moving toward a high value globally competitive sustainable forest industry: Working Roundtable on Forestry, March 2009.

Tie Hackers to Timber Harvesters: Ken Druska.

Seeing the forest among the trees a case for holistic forest use: Herb Hammond.

Forest tenure reform in B.C.: University of British Columbia Faculty of law.

A quick reference, British Columbia’s timber tenure system.

Synthesis paper 06-01, British Columbia’s crown forest tenure system in a changing world; challenges and opportunities:  David Haley and Harry Nelson.

2011 Economic state of the BC Forest Sector, June 2012: Jie Shu.

Quality always takes time: David Shipway; Oct. 2011.

Jim Hilton is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.