The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) has laid out 60 ideas as part of a plan to revitalize the province’s forestry sector. This comes as the province struggles with mill closures and curtailments leading to substantial job loses in many part of the province.
“B.C.’s forest industry is an industry in transition,” COFI President Susan Yurkovich said.
“The industry is facing somewhat of a perfect storm – an array of market and operating challenges coming together at a time when we are also experiencing a significant structural shift in the availability and cost of fibre. These conditions are forcing difficult decisions, which are impacting workers and communities.”
The plan includes accelerating the replanting of ‘Not Sufficiently Restocked’ areas and target a maximum timeline of 24 months to salvage timber following wildfires.
The provincial government is in the midst of supporting forestry workers who have lost their jobs. The province is also announcing plans on Tuesday “about helping B.C.’s Interior forestry workers affected by mill closures.”
COFI is also calling for a mission to New Zealand and Sweden to better understand their “forest management regime.” Streamlining permitting, semi-annual government and industry meetings and maximizing the available timber supply are also on the list.
“In addition to addressing today’s challenges, many people are asking what the future holds for forestry in British Columbia, and where will we be once we have moved through this transition,” Yurkovich said.
“We believe that with the right choices, there is a bright future for the forest industry in B.C. That’s why we are putting forward our ideas for a path forward – one that will help attract investment, secure jobs, deliver value and sustain economic benefits across the province.”
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Another piece of the puzzle for the forestry sector is federal support for workers in transition.
Before the federal election B.C’s Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson asked Ottawa to step in an help.
The forestry industry also needs more investment in skills training programs and create a searchable inventory of industry-related forest training, scholarships and bursaries.
“Industry is ready to work with all partners to put these ideas into action. Working in partnership, we can create the right conditions for a world-leading, globally competitive and innovative manufacturer of high-quality, sustainable products that supports skilled jobs and provides economic benefits for communities, First Nations, and all British Columbians,“ BC Council of Forest Industries chair Don Kayne said.