British Columbia's review of log exports seeks to meet needs of local sawmills, domestic demand, says forests ministry spokesperson; meetings with stakeholders ongoing to consider policy changes

BURNS LAKE, British Columbia , November 23, 2011 () – According to the Ministry of Forests Range and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) during 2010, about 7.3 per cent, or 4.5 million cubic metres of B.C.’s harvested wood was exported in the form of raw logs.

To the end of August 2011, 3.67 million cubic metres of raw logs were exported from B.C.

Lisa Barrett, government communications and public engagement from the MFRNRO said, “The volume of public timber exported as logs is a fraction of the annual harvest of public timber, it’s usually around five to 10 per cent.”

According to Barrett, the majority of B.C.’s log exports are from private land on Southern Vancouver Island.

All log exports from private land are governed by the federal government, rather than the province.

“The Forest Act, since it was introduced in 1912, has always included provisions for limited [raw] log exports. Log export restrictions in B.C. are among the tightest in Canada. To gain export permission, exporters must prove that logs are surplus to the needs of domestic manufacturers,” she said.

Export applications for surplus logs are advertised on a biweekly basis to ensure that domestic buyers have the first right of refusal and a timber export advisory committee comprised of forest sector stakeholders including union, First Nations and community representatives reviews all offers on applications.

The ministry is currently reviewing log exports to ensure the volume of logs being shipped overseas is appropriately balanced with domestic demand and the needs of local sawmills.

Barrett also said meetings are currently being held with key forest sector stakeholders, including representatives from unions, First Nations and communities to discuss options and potential policy changes.

The major importers of B.C.’s raw logs are the U.S., Japan, China and South Korea. “All these countries import way more lumber from B.C. than they do logs," Barrett said, adding that raw log exports to China only make up about nine per cent of B.C.’s total forest product sales to China.

“Allowing some log exports enables harvesting and transportation employment when manufacturing is restricted by poor market demand. Log exports can also be beneficial in that they allow the forest sector to get better prices for lower value timber in certain regions that would otherwise be uneconomic to harvest and reforest. For example, in a mixed stand of cedar and hemlock, both tree types would be harvested at the same time. However, if there is no domestic market for hemlock, then approving the export of these logs, allows logging to proceed and makes the cedar available for domestic processors.”


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