Forestry industry a vital lifeline for B.C.’s economy: Study

B.C.’s forest industry reaps $12.9 billion in GDP and provides over 140,000 jobs, making it one of the cornerstones of the economy and one of the largest employers across the province, according to a Pricewaterhouse Coopers report.

The study assesses the economic impact of the B.C. forest industry’s ongoing operations, employment and capital spending across the province related to forestry and logging, wood product manufacturing and paper manufacturing.

In 2016 the industry also generated $33 billion in output, contributing a total of $4.1 billion in payments to municipal, provincial and federal governments from forest industry operations. This revenue is key to providing essential public services such as education, health care and infrastructure.

Furthermore, one out of every 17 jobs in the province, or over 140,000 jobs, are forestry-related, generating a total of $8.6 billion in wages to workers. Of the total jobs, the industry employs 60,000 people directly with an additional 81,000 indirect and induced jobs generated from forest sector activity.

The study also confirmed that 140 communities are considered forest dependent through their mills, community forests, or significant logging operations.

As a major exporter, the forest industry is also an important consumer of transportation infrastructure services. in 2016, the province shipped $13.7 billion worth of forest products, accounting for 34 per cent of all provincial exports. China now accounts for 24 per cent of B.C.’s forest product exports.

B.C. wood products are in high demand due to its sustainable forestry management practices. The industry plants three trees for every tree harvested on average, and less than one per cent of the timber land base is harvested each year.

However, the report also notes significant challenges including the softwood lumber trade dispute with the United States, rising costs and the devastating impacts on fibre supply from wildfires and the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation.