The provincial government today released its agenda to enhance the competitiveness of B.C.’s forest sector so that it continues to make investments and provide family-supporting jobs in communities throughout the province. The agenda called “Strong Past, Bright Future” contains 49 strategic actions to address three key inter-related goals: healthy, resilient forests; diverse, globally competitive industry; and stable communities and First Nations.
“Government is focused on maintaining the forest sector’s position as a driving force in B.C.’s economy, especially in rural communities,” says Steve Thomson, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. “This will sustain jobs, provide a secure future for resource communities, and deliver benefits to all British Columbians.”
The plan also incorporates an agenda to keep the pulp and paper sector and the value-added sector health because “one does not exist without the other.”
The plan has caught praise from the Council of Forest Industries.
“The B.C. forest industry has long been the cornerstone of the provincial economy and one of the largest employers in the province,” said Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO of the COFI. “However, the sector in B.C. is facing significant challenges which, if not addressed, will further erode its competitive position in the global marketplace.”
Those challenges are entirely linked to the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. The industry is anticipating a downturn in the Annual Allowable Cut, fibre requires the industry to travel further, adding to the costs, and Softwood Lumber talks have yet to result in a satisfactory conclusion.
There are 140 forestry-dependent communities in BC and the Province has committed to “stand by communities in the weeks and months ahead.” That includes meetings with different local governments, especially those most immediately affected.
Strong Past, Bright Future: A Competitiveness Agenda for British Columbia’s Forest Sector, along with the Value Added Sector Action Plan, British Columbia Pulp and Paper Sustainability: Sector Challenges and Future Opportunities, and other supporting documents, can be found at: