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.

Just Posted

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

Surrey man stabbed multiple times during suspected home invasion

The incident occurred in Fleetwood on Saturday night

Can Surrey’s Reece Willcox will his way to NHL?

23-year-old defender playing in a stacked Philadelphia Flyers organization

Seaquam Seahawks lose heartbreaker in football playoffs at B.C. Place

Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers and South Delta Sun Devils were also in action

VIDEO: Fort Langley marks anniversary of B.C.’s birth

On a rainy day in 1858, B.C. was made an official colony.

VIDEO: Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Apology to Canadians persecuted for being gay coming Nov. 28: Trudeau

Thousands were fired from the military, RCMP and public service because of their sexual orientation

Heavy rains, winds hit B.C.’s south coast

Localized flooding, gusts up to 70 km/hr expected for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

High winds cancel slew of BC Ferries sailings

Travel to and from Victoria and Vancouver as well as Northern Gulf Islands affected

Most Read