The Government of British Columbia is investing $7.7 million to promote the use of B.C. wood, advance wood building systems and products, and expand global markets, Premier Christy Clark announced at the Council of Forest Industries annual convention today.

Premier Christy Clark made the announcement in her keynote speech, which spoke to government’s actions on the softwood lumber file. Diversifying markets and reducing reliance on the United States market continues to be a key part of government’s strategy to keep B.C.’s forest sector strong.

“Forestry will always play a crucial role in communities throughout B.C.,” said Premier Clark. “By growing international demand, we are decreasing our reliance on a single market, creating more opportunity, and supporting the tens of thousands of British Columbians who rely on forestry.”

The annual funding is being made available to 14 different industry trade associations and research institutes that deliver market development programs on behalf of government and industry. B.C.’s contribution is being managed through Forestry Innovation Investment, the Province’s market development agency for forest products.

“Over 90% of B.C.’s forest products are exported, making international trade vital to the success of the forest economy,” said Minister of International Trade Teresa Wat. “Market development and diversification not only safeguard against global uncertainties, but also create new, higher-value opportunities for B.C. producers.”

Of the $7.7 million, $5.9 million will be made available for activities targeted at expanding markets for B.C.’s wood products, with investment priorities that reflect evolving market opportunities in Asia and North America. The remaining $1.8 million will be made available for activities delivered through the Wood First program, which fosters the innovative use of wood and wood building systems in B.C. through research, education, marketing and capacity building.

Advancing wood use and growing international markets is a collaborative effort. The Province will cost-share these activities, with additional funding being provided by industry and the federal government through Natural Resources Canada.

“B.C. is internationally recognized as a leader in sustainable forest management,” said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson. “As the benefits of building with wood become more widely recognized – including its lower carbon footprint, its cost-effectiveness and its versatility – our reputation will continue to position us as a preferred supplier of environmentally friendly forest products.”

Building international markets for B.C.’s natural resources is a component of the BC Jobs Plan. The B.C. forest sector employs more than 60,000 British Columbians and supports over 7,000 businesses.

“A strong forest sector requires the co-operation of industry and government,” said Susan Yurkovich, president and CEO, Council of Forest Industries. “Given the current challenges we face, the importance of working together to diversify offshore markets for B.C. forest products has never been greater.”