Re: “Forestry workers, environmentalists call for ban on log exports,” July 22.

It is important that the voice of B.C. forest workers who actually log and work in sawmills is heard. With respect to the organization quoted, the United Steelworkers represents loggers and the majority of unionized sawmill workers in B.C.

USW has long advocated for significant reductions in log exports. This can be achieved through reforms to the surplus test, increasing the fee-in-lieu of processing, and needed investment in value-added manufacturing; solutions that require industry, government and labour working together.

The discussion of “logging old-growth forests” reveals the real agenda of some of the groups interviewed, re-writing history and eroding the working forest and land-use plans that were established through extensive debate, consultation and compromise. It’s a short-sighted perspective that fails to see the forest for the trees or to value forestry communities.

A significant portion of B.C. forests are protected through land-use planning. The remaining working forest includes some old growth, containing high-value timber that balances low-value timber stands.

This maintains a healthy industry, family-supporting jobs and parks and protected areas. Ending old-growth logging would lead to significant and prolonged job loss, stymie rather than promote investment, and put communities in jeopardy.

There’s been investment in some coastal mills, notably Western Forest Products, but USW believes industry can do more. To spur investment we must also provide secure fibre supply and provide certainty for the working forests. We can manage our forests with the values of British Columbians, including conservation and creating jobs.

Bob Matters, chairman

United Steelworkers Wood Council