This week,   forestry   is the focus  as the Council of Forest Industries (COFI)  holds its annual convention in Vancouver and there is plenty to discuss.

There is  no doubt,  these are challenging times for  forestry  with  the Softwood Lumber Agreement up in the air,   duties and tarriffs about to be levelled and  reductions to the annual allowable cut  yet to be announced.

COFI President Susan Yurkovich  says   while there are challenges,  there are also  opportunities “Our plan for the convention is to talk about   the challenges we are facing, but also   to talk about the great things that are happening.”  Those great things  she says, include the move to taller buildings  made of wood,   innovation ,   good markets, including in the U.S   and  the opportunities  in  China as well as those  presented by  working with First Nations.

The annual allowable  cut  is  going to be reduced  from the  high rates of harvesting  seen during the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic.  There are 140 communities across B.C. who rely on forestry as their economic driver.   Minister of Forests, Steve Thomson has already been in discussions with the Federal Government  over  possible  supports  that could be  offered to  ensure the  health of those communities.  She say says during the transition, she would hope  government would use “any of the levers” it has to support  communities and workers during the transition.  “It’s important that governments can work with industry   and communities to make sure that as  we go through this difficult time,  all policy levers are employed.”

Still,   with no sign of a Softwood Lumber agreement, Yurkovich  remains positive “I think this is an industry that is resilient and we have faced these  challenges before.  It’s not great,  I’m not sugar coating  it,  it’s not great,  we wish were not in this place.  We wish the U.S. would understand, as has been proven out in the courts for so  many iterations in this dispute that we are not an industry that is  subsidized, so it’s  unfortunate we have found ourselves here, but we have found   ourselves here before and we have successfully defended our interests and  what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and we have a very   highly efficient industry in British Columbia that has had to be resilient as it  faces these  challenges.”

The convention is set   to take place  April 5th through the 7th.