B.C. to restrict log exports, rebuild forestry industries

In its bid to create and support good jobs in British Columbia’s coastal forest sector, the government is making policy changes to increase the processing of B.C. logs on the coast and to reduce wood waste by redirecting it to B.C.’s pulp and paper mills, according to news released by the British Columbia’s Office of the Premier.

The changes, as part of the Coast Forest Sector Revitalization Initiative, were announced by Premier John Horgan at the annual Truck Loggers Association (TLA) convention. Government is taking steps to reverse a systemic decline that has taken place in the coast forest sector over most of the last two decades.

“We’re committed to rebuilding a strong and healthy coastal forest sector for British Columbians,” said Premier Horgan. “Through the forest policy reforms I’m announcing today, we will see more logs and fibre processed in B.C., supporting B.C. workers, their families and communities.”

The Coast Forest Sector Revitalization has five main goals:

  • Rebuilding solid wood and secondary industries to ensure more B.C. logs and fibre are processed in B.C.
  • Improving harvest performance to ensure more fibre is available for domestic mills, including the pulp and paper sector.
  • Maintaining a credible auction system by taking steps to ensure bids on timber sale licences are independently made.
  • Fostering stronger business-to-business relationships between BC Timber Sales, major licensees and First Nations.
  • Restoring public confidence through amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act and auditing the private managed forest land regime.

The goals will be implemented through a series of legislative, regulatory and policy changes over the next two years. The policy reforms were developed after engaging with a broad cross-section of First Nations, industry and labour over the last six months. Engagement will continue over the next few months as some policy proposals are finalised.

“We can no longer apply yesterday’s thinking to today’s challenges,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “We need to shift our approach away from the status quo and create markets for waste fibre that, until now, has been left in harvest areas. We will continue to work with all forest-sector participants so together we can enjoy the benefits from a stronger coastal forest sector.”

Fee charged for log export to be revised

Effective July 1, 2019, the fee charged for log exports will be revised to be based on harvest economics. New criteria for log exports from certain geographic areas, based on local harvesting economics and subject to engagement and consultation with First Nations, will be developed.

Changes to waste policy are designed to redirect some of the approximately two million cubic metres of wood waste on the coast – or approximately enough wood waste to fill 800 Olympic-sized swimming pools each year – to pulp and paper producers and the bio-products/bioenergy sector, supporting CleanBC’s renewed bioenergy strategy. A coastal fibre recovery zone will be established this spring, where penalties will apply for leaving waste in excess of new lower waste benchmarks in harvested areas. Over the next year, changes will be made to increase penalties for late reporting of waste.

Collaborative, area-based planning with First Nations and other licensees

To increase First Nations participation in the forest sector, and to directly receive their input at the beginning of the forest management process, BC Timber Sales will engage with interested First Nations and other licensees in collaborative, area-based planning. This will create efficiencies and better landscape-level planning and forest management.

BC Timber Sales will also work with interested First Nations and licensees in business arrangements that would see all parties sharing timber volume, expertise, and/or capital and all parties sharing decision-making and mutual benefits. BC Timber Sales will maintain its role of auctioning about 20 per cent of the province’s allowable annual cut to support the market-based timber pricing system.

To increase public trust and confidence in forest-sector decision-making, this spring, the ministry will introduce amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act to improve public input process and increase transparency. The ministry will review the effectiveness of the private managed forest land framework.

Coast forest-sector revitalisation to reinvigorate B.C.’s forest sector supports the shared priority between government and the B.C. Green caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

David Elstone, executive director, Truck Loggers Association commented in response to the changes, “The announcements made today by the Premier will fundamentally address growing concerns about forest management on the coast. As timber-harvesting contractors, we recognize change is required and that the industry needs certainty. We are hopeful the announced initiatives will support industry sustainability, and the TLA remains available to continue working with the Premier to meet the government’s objectives while the contractors’ concerns are heard.”

Robert Dennis, Chief Councillor, Huu-ay-aht First Nations said, “Huu-ay-aht First Nations, the B.C. government and our business partners share the same goals – revitalised coastal forestry and long-term reconciliation with First Nations. Today’s forestry policy announcements are an important step toward achievement of these twin goals. Huu-ay-aht looks forward to further engagement with the B.C. government and our business partners to ensure implementation of these policies is a win/win/win.”

Quick Fact:

The coastal forest sector is an integral part of the B.C. economy. In 2017, it generated over 24,000 direct jobs and $3.1 billion in gross domestic product.