According to the Council of Forest Industries President, over 140 communities in BC are forest-dependent as the sector continues to go through some changes.

Susan Yurkovich was among 1,200 people who attended the BC Natural Resources Forum in Prince George this week.

She states 85% of BC wood products went to the United States 20 years ago, now that number has shrunk to about 55% due to various issues south of the border.

However, Yurkovich believes countries like China and Japan have done a good job of picking up the slack.

“Cofi has had a presence in Japan for over 40 years and so those markets are really important to continue to diversify the places where we send our product. China and Japan are very, very important but we’re also looking at Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam who are looking more to BC wood products.”

As for what Yurkovich would like to see improved this year, only one thing came to mind.

“We’ve got to find a way to address the cost situation here in British Columbia, we are a high-cost jurisdiction from a fibre perspective and that makes it very difficult to compete and to serve the customers that we have.”

“But if we can’t be able to serve our customers cost competitively that has an impact on our ability to export and that actually drives a whole lot of jobs throughout our province.”

She adds one of the things that stood out to her during the forum was the youth panel where the leaders of the future gave their perspective on the sector.

“It’s really interesting hearing their perspective and their take on the opportunities for our sector going forward. We had folks from mining, forestry, and the power sector, we also had a young first nations man who is working to bring more employees to the Tahltan Nation.”