Even after a thirty-year career in the industry, I often tell people that fresh information about British Columbia’s coastal forest industry crosses my desk every day. One recent example came from a new report by Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC). The report cited that of all jurisdictions in North America today, BC has the largest economic output from its forest industry.
This speaks volumes about the impact of forestry on the lives of British Columbians.
From the Lower Mainland urbanites whose livelihoods are supported by the forest industry to those who live in the Vancouver Island communities built by generations of men and women with sawdust running through their veins, the forest products sector not only provides some of the highest paying jobs in the province, its influence supports the health of countless other sectors.
Coastal forestry has come a long way in modernizing from its beginnings as an original backbone industry in BC. My communications director, clearly a child of the 70’s, (either this or a fan of #TBT), drew a connection between coastal forestry and the retro TV character, Steve Austin (aka. the bionic man). Similar to the way that Steve’s body was re-built to become better, stronger, faster, the parallel here is that coastal forest companies are re-defining themselves to become ever more sustainable, innovative and competitive.
There’s no doubt, we’ve made bionic-like strides that seemed impossible not too long ago. BC’s coastal forest industry is known today worldwide as a leader in forest management. Companies are committed to strengthening partnerships with First Nations peoples and are investing in high-tech to improve and innovate their operations. And while all of these achievements support our competitiveness, they are only made possible by companies who can compete day-to-day with those from other jurisdictions around the globe.
Coastal forestry in BC requires government collaboration for generating and implementing a plan that will strengthen future competitiveness. Similar to how Steve Austin’s new, bionic body was created from a detailed blueprint, industry and government must lay out clear goals and milestones in a plan.
Les Kiss, Coast Forest’s VP of Policy, outlined a number of steps that can provide key elements for such a plan. In his piece, “Enough Already – It’s Time to Work Smarter!” Kiss addresses the issue of our high and rising delivered log costs and timber utilization on the coast and how they may be addressed. With further dialogue between industry and government, such steps can guide important actions to overcome other barriers to competitiveness faced by industry.
BCBC noted given that forestry is a leading economic engine, it makes good economic sense to support and nurture forestry in BC. Coast Forest agrees fully with this – and has seen how a strong, competitive coastal forest industry fuels the everyday lives of British Columbians.
We have the technology. We have the capability – to become better and stronger. Let’s finalize a plan and get it done.