Forests Minister Pat Bell and Frank Everitt

Asian forest exports match U.S. sales

VICTORIA – Surging forest products sales to Asia have for the first time nearly equaled sales to the U.S., where the housing market continues to decline.

Forests Minister Pat Bell released September statistics for the industry Thursday, showing that total lumber, pulp, paper, plywood and other manufactured wood product sales to China and Japan reached 40 per cent of B.C.’s output.

Sales to the U.S., where historically the vast majority of B.C. products have gone, are at 42.2 per cent. U.S. sales are expected to reach six billion board feet this year, about the same as the last two years and far below historic highs.

Bell called the fast-growing Asian exports “the magic” that has turned around the slumping B.C. forest industry. B.C. still hasn’t recovered to its historic average where 10 to 11 billion cubic metres was harvested each year, but the latest figures bring the projected total cut for this year to 8.6 billion.

“The harvesting on the coast of British Columbia, year to date as of October, is up 70.1 per cent,” Bell said. “The harvesting in the interior as of October is up 24.7 per cent. That is an incredible success story by any measure.”

The ministry estimates that restarted mills and logging operations have added nearly 5,000 jobs this year, after a disastrous period of shutdowns and layoffs fueled by the U.S. housing market collapse and world recession.

Bell said forestry and logging employment up 33.8 per cent, and wood products employment is up 5.2 per cent for a total growth of about nine per cent. That is despite an 11.4 per cent drop in jobs in paper mills, mainly due to Catalyst Paper reducing operations.

October figures show U.S. housing construction going from bad to worse, down 11.7 per cent from September for a projected total of 519,000 new units this year.

In the coastal and Vancouver Island region, 1.14 million cubic metres was harvested from Crown land in October, a 70 per cent jump from last year. The coastal industry has been so slow that the ministry has seen some recent years where the entire year’s harvest didn’t reach three million cubic metres.

Bell credited the increase partly to container shipping of logs and lumber from Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Containers from Asia used to return empty, but now wood products can be shipped to China for about the same cost as sending them by rail to the Eastern U.S., he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Revelstoke resident finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Possible Kermode Bear spotted near Castlegar

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run on May 27

Pregnant Revelstoke woman catches COVID-19 days before giving birth

Michelle Hunter said it was like a horror movie when caught COVID-19

Golden local raises concern over water source at Dart Creek

Alex McLean has been using Dart Creek as a water source for over a decade with no issues until 2019

WildSafe Golden returns for 2020 season

Programming will be offered online and in compliance with health authorities recommendations

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Most Read