Massive swaths of burning forest aren’t good news for Alberta’s forestry sector. However, the Alberta Forest Products Association says its members expect several wildfires to burn up forests every year and plan around them.

AFPA’s Brock Mulligan tells the Alberta Morning News, it remains to be seen how much this will affect the industry.

“We know that two-hundred and thirty thousand hectares of forest has been affected, which obviously is a pretty significant amount,” Mulligan explains. “At the same time, Alberta’s forests are about thirty-eight million hectares in total, so we’re not talking, necessarily, about a massive percentage of our forests.”

However, Mulligan says in the immediate wake of the Fort McMurray fire, they’re more concerned with the potential impact on thousands of people who work for the industry in the region.

“There’s fifteen thousand people who work directly in our industry, and then another thirty-thousand who are equipment suppliers and service providers, and consultants, and those kinds of periferal jobs that go with our industry,” he says. “They’re our friends and neighbours, too, and we know that some of them have been affected, and it’s just devastating to see.”

There is a silver lining, though, as the Northland lumber mill was saved. Mulligans says it’ll be able to both provide jobs, and building materials during the reconstruction. (scb, AMN)