Every January, the natural resource sectors gather in Prince George for a pulse check on the state of energy, mining and forestry in B.C. …Interest in the present and future of B.C.’s natural resources has never been higher – and neither have the stakes. …This year’s gathering in Prince George comes at a time when key indicators in forestry are flashing red, foremost among them the current critical shortage of timber for B.C. mills. …In the last five years, harvesting on public forest lands dropped by almost half, from about 60 million cubic metres in 2018 to 35 million cubic metres in 2023. This steep trajectory has ignited a wave of curtailments and closures that have shuttered local sawmills along with the pulp and paper and value-added plants that rely on their outputs and residuals, resulting in the loss of an estimated 4,500 direct jobs in the last two years.
Left unchecked, current dynamics in the sector will result in a structural deficit in three ingredients required to meet growing demand locally and globally for wood products for green and affordable housing: Infrastructure, investment and workforce. And it will hinder B.C.’s ability to deliver the low-carbon and renewable bioproducts needed for a net-zero economy. …Premier David Eby and Forests Minister Bruce Ralston have committed to working with the industry, First Nations, labour, and local communities to stabilize fibre supply and build a more predictable and sustainable path forward. Some new strategies and tools are already on the table. But more are required. …Further progress on revenue sharing as well as new government-to-government agreements between the province and First Nations. …The relationship between primary and secondary producers must evolve to enable more economic fibre to flow to local markets and value-added manufacturing. And we need to act together on the extraordinary convergences now being driven by climate change.