Log Export Ban Advocates are Barking up the Wrong Tree. Again.

BC’s private forest operations generate 5,000 family supporting rural jobs, $150 million in taxes and over $1 billion in economic activity annually.

An openly partisan coalition of labour unions and internationally funded environmental activists opposed to BC timber harvesting, are once again promoting the myth that a ban on log exports is the best solution to ensure more logs are milled here in BC.

This idea is callously disrespectful to the thousands of hardworking rural men and women who rely on the log export trade for their livelihoods. Not to mention, dangerous because it ignores almost all the evidence of the situation, as well as a shameful waste of time because it focuses on the symptom of the problem, rather than focusing on making BC an attractive place to build new mills.

It takes decades to grow a timber crop. During that time millions of dollars are spent on planting, protecting and tending trees. BC’s private forest operations are proud of the fact that our efforts generate 5,000 family supporting rural jobs, $150 million in taxes and over $1 billion in economic activity annually. Banning log exports would destroy this sector overnight.

We understand that the public would like to see more logs milled in BC – we would too. The ability to sell our logs to local mills at competitive prices is warmly welcomed, but until BC mills are globally competitive again, the log export trade is the only thing keeping our people working and the wheels turning.

BC lumber mills themselves are curiously absent from the list of log export ban supporters. The primary reason for this is that the mills don’t need, or want a log export ban.

BC mills already have full control over where the wood goes. Every log exported from BC must by law first be ruled surplus to local needs. This gives mills incredible leverage and means they can dictate log prices (among the lowest in the world = why the log export market is so attractive) with guaranteed access to all the wood they want, at prices they control.

Mills are also staying out of the public discussion because Canada’s trading partners around the globe are already unhappy about BC’s existing private land export surplus test restrictions. In fact, as part of the latest round of softwood lumber talks, the US notes that private land log export restrictions are a direct subsidy to Canadian lumber production.

Coastal BC mills also understand that artificially low domestic log prices cannot support sustainable forest stewardship. The extra dollars paid for logs by overseas mills support harvesting activity and subsidize domestic log sales.

The recent increase in log export volumes cited by Ben Parfitt and others has been generated entirely from public lands.* In fact, private land log exports, which are largely federally, not provincially regulated, have decreased during the same period as local mills increasingly use the surplus test to interfere with the export trade, and acquire privately owned logs at discounted rates.

There is a timber surplus in coastal BC because there is a lack of mill capacity. There is a lack of mill capacity because coastal BC is currently not an attractive place to make mill investments.

There is zero evidence to support the naïve claim that more mills would suddenly be built in BC if log exports were banned. Surplus-test log export restrictions have been in place here for many decades, yet mill investments continue to occur not here, but far away.

The reality is, nobody can afford to borrow money and build a mill that won’t generate sufficient profits, and currently there are more profitable places to build mills than coastal BC. It’s telling that despite the timber surplus on the coast, major BC lumber companies — Canfor, West Fraser, Interfor, Teal Jones and others — have all invested in US mills. Russia’s log export restrictions are similarly ineffective at attracting mill investments.

If the goal is to put an abrupt and complete halt to the coastal timber growing and harvesting sector, then a log export ban is the way to go. If, as the United Steelworkers (whose members enjoy both mill and woods jobs) suggest, the goal is to encourage a thriving milling sector, then finding a solution will require a lot more than idealistic rhetoric.

We believe that getting the facts out is the only way to promote informed discussion and promote positive policy development. For more information, please go to www.pfla.bc.ca

*Between 2007 and 2014, private land log exports decreased by about 3%, while Crown land log exports increased by about 606%.


Update: Grandfathering Undersized Managed Forest Properties

BC Assessment & Managed Forest PowerPoint slidesAt PFLA’s 2015 conference Tina Ireland presented on behalf of BC Assessment. Part of that discussion included an announcement about the review process BC Assessment was undertaking around the practice of grandfathering undersized Managed Forest properties.

To date, there has been some uncertainty around the issue. The Managed Forest Council’s February newsletter includes information that sheds light on the situation.

In case you missed it, we’ve included the information below.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Managed Forest Council.

Here’s what the Managed Forest Council had to say in their February newsletter:

Grandfathering of Existing Undersized Managed Forests

BC Assessment legislation requires a Managed Forest (MF) to be at least 25 hectares in size. In 2004, owners of MF land less than 25 hectares were provided the option of having their undersized MF land remain as BC Assessment Managed Forest Land class 07.

There has been uncertainty regarding the eligibility of undersized MFs in the program once they are sold. BC Assessment has confirmed with our office that future sales of undersized MFs will not automatically trigger their removal from the program.

New owners of undersized MFs wanting to stay in the program, and who can demonstrate the land is a viable undersized MF, will be required to submit a new management commitment to the MF Council. If the management commitment is accepted by Council, our office will recommend to BC Assessment that the property continue as a viable undersized MF.

5 Messages Every Candidate Should Know About Private Forestry

The next provincial general election in British Columbia is scheduled for May 9, 2017.

With any election comes a swarm of pre-election activities and a host of new candidates.

Because BC’s private managed forest lands are located around some of Canada’s fastest growing communities, private forestry is often a target of discussion.

PFLA’s goal is to make it as easy and painless as possible for candidates to learn the facts about private forestry.

If you know any candidates who might benefit from some support in helping to understand private forestry better, please let us know.

If you’re keen to find more information, to share with your local candidate, about the Managed Forest Program, or private forest stewardship in general, please contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction.

In the meantime, if a candidate knocks on your door, or you’re inclined to knock on their door, or for some other reason you find yourself with 60 seconds to talk to your local candidate, here are five key messages to share about private forestry in British Columbia.

  1. Private managed forest owners are the only landowners in B.C. committed and legally bound to grow and harvest trees. Between 10 and 15 million seedlings are planted on BC’s private managed forest lands each year. That’s over 100 million trees in the past decade alone.
  1. Private managed forest land is governed by over 30 acts and regulations that protect key public environmental values including water quality, fish habitat, soil productivity and critical wildlife habitat.
  1. Annually, BC’s private forest lands provide 5,000 jobs, contribute over $1 billion in economic activity and generate $150 million in tax revenue.
  1. PFLA members have a solid track record of responsible forestry practices and regular community communications. We make every reasonable effort to talk with our neighbours and let community members know what’s happening with our operations.
  1. Forest owners have a positive story to tell and this is a great opportunity to share that story. Invite your candidate out into the woods to see firsthand how we manage our forests. Offer to help with any other questions they might have—keep it simple, keep it positive, keep it friendly.

That Darn “Brush” (a New Look at Our Wonderful Forest Understory Habitat)

Thanks to the resource specialists at Forest Stewardship Notes (Washington State University) for permission to share this handy post originally published on their website.

Black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii).

Considered a nuisance by many landowners, shrub growth like black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) provides important shelter and forage for a variety of wildlife species.

Stand in your forest and count the overstory tree species you see. On the west side, this will likely include Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar and alder. On the east side, you are likely to tally Douglas fir, ponderosa pine and grand fir.

Now, from that exact spot, count the shrubby understory (or “brush”) species that you see. This may include oceanspray, serviceberry, ninebark, salal, salmonberry, red or blue elderberry, cascara, beaked hazelnut, bitter cherry, chokecherry, evergreen huckleberry and so on.

There is almost always two to three times as many species of native shrub, understory species on a site as there are tall trees. Wow!

Trees generally have a single stem and reach the highest levels of the canopy, while shrubs have multiple stems and grow in the understory. And yes, sometimes there are plants that confuse us. This rich, and often overlooked and underappreciated, layer of our forests contains some of the best wildlife habitat out there.

Benefits of Brush

Nearly 25 percent of our forest-dwelling wildlife rely on these plants for food or cover and would not exist on our lands without these wonderfully dense thickets—song sparrows, spotted towhee, warblers, chipmunks, deer and so.

The critter list of those that thrive on this critical habitat element is long. In fact, the shrub layer may be the most important habitat feature for a high diversity of wildlife species in early forest successional stages. Systematic research in Oregon has shown that songbird abundance and diversity is increased when west side plantations are allowed to develop some shrub components.

When sunlight reaches the ground, even in small amounts, the various shrub species will take advantage of this niche and grow sometimes for many years and to impressive mass. Who hasn’t seen a gap in the wet forest where the shrubs have come into create a little pocket of shrubs in the midst of an otherwise dark conifer overstory?

These canopy gaps are a great source of habitat diversity. Mixed stands of mature trees, (conifer and hardwood), openings and substantial shrub components can provide some of the richest and most diverse habitats in our forests. Many shrub species produce “mast,” or fruit, that is eaten by a wide array of wildlife, from birds to the smallest mammals and all the way up to the black bear.

The wonderful flowers of our shrub species provide feeding opportunities for pollinators, including hundreds of species of native bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. Unlike the conifer, these flowers produce nectar, a rich draw for many animals including specialized insects. And most of our game species, those big charismatic megafauna, forage on these plants too. Shrubs usually carry these animals through the winter.


There are many shrub (“brush”) superstars. Here we highlight just a few of our best wildlife habitat shrub species.

blue elderberry sambucus cerulea

Blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea)

Blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea): This lovely plant grows in sunny spots east and west of the Cascades. It can take on a fairly large form if given enough time and light, reaching up to 25 feet high and across. Multiple stems produce lush, compound foliage that is preferred browse for deer, elk and other animals. The abundant purple berries are favorites of many birds and seldom last long. These same berries can even be made into wine or jam. If you want to enhance wildlife habitat by planting shrubs, this one is a great choice.


red elderberry sambucus raesmosa

Red elderberry (Sambucus raesmosa)

Red elderberry (Sambucus raesmosa): Wetter sites in western Washington grow the red elderberry, a very similar plant to the blue, with a branching brushy form and red berries favored by many wildlife species. These grow in small openings and in the dappled understory of mixed forest stands. In my observation these two plants usually don’t occur in the same locations, but both are great wildlife habitat plants.


salmonberry rubus spectabilis

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis): Dominating many understories across western Washington is the ubiquitous salmonberry. This plant features dense woody stems that can create a jungle of dense vegetation — perfect places for birds and small mammals to seek shelter. The berries resemble salmon roe (hence the name) and are eaten by most everything, including people.


indian plum foliage

Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)

Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis): Perhaps the earliest blooming shrub species in western Washington is the gorgeous Indian plum. This rich understory species occurs on many moist forest sites, providing early foliage and flowers for native pollinators. They produce lovely, tiny purple fruits and never last long, being eaten at first chance by many birds and mammals. Watch for the white flowers in the first blush of spring.

Other shrub superstars worth mentioning include serviceberry, mock orange, ceanothus, cascara, salal, willow, dogwood, and even devil’s club. Each of these has great wildlife structure and bears fruit.


Sometimes the dense nature of shrub cover can prevent conifers from regenerating for many years, much to the frustration of those attempting to grow trees for harvest. Vast effort is made to eliminate this competition on lands dedicated to tree production, often by using aerial application of herbicides. This is hard on the shrub layer to say the least.

The small landowner, however, usually has mixed objectives, wishing to provide quality wildlife habitat AND grow the next crop of trees. This can be accomplished by identifying the best wildlife shrub species growing on your property and actively maintaining them over time by allowing for space to grow these plants.

Conifer competition can be dealt with by physically cutting the competing plants back, and/or strategically using herbicides on individual plants or clumps, thus allowing the conifers to get above the shrub layer and form a new canopy.

Sometimes individual plants are cared for. Planting can work if adequate care is made for each plant. Control competition and prevent browse on young plants. Desired shrubs that have become tall and “leggy” with extended stems and leaf and fruits out of reach of browsers, such as deer, can even be simply pruned back just as we might manage the bushes in our yards.

These are just a few thoughts and examples of the fabulous shrub species we encounter on our forest lands that are worth knowing and keeping on the landscape. Find out what shrubs you have on your place. Their value to wildlife as habitat is very great and definitely worth managing for.

Learn and enjoy your brush, or should I say, “shrub habitat.”

By Ken Bevis, DNR stewardship wildlife biologist, Ken.Bevis@dnr.wa.gov

Wilderness Committee prescription for BC coast forest sector would kill the patient*

Between 10 and 15 million seedlings are planted on BC’s private managed forest lands each year.

In a misleading and inaccurate article published in the Times Colonist (January 11th) and Huffington Post (January 12th), the Wilderness Committee calls for a ban on BC log exports.

This statement shows a complete disregard for the realities of the coastal forest industry, along with a callous disrespect for forest workers and their families. Quite simply, a log export ban would collapse the coastal BC forest industry and destroy many more jobs than it would create.

The Wilderness Committee also fails to make a clear distinction between the public interest in taxpayer-owned timber grown on public land and privately owned timber grown on private land.

The Private Forest Landowners Association (PFLA) promotes responsible forest stewardship of BC’s private forest lands. Our members are committed to long-term management of our lands and timber crops.

Private forest owners seek to freely trade the timber we grow on our own private lands, entirely at our own cost, to the highest bidder. Like farmers, and any other business that generates jobs and benefits for society, we believe that running a profitable enterprise, and seeking top value for our product, is a reasonable expectation and completely necessary for sustainable forest management.

Forest owners look to export markets for our harvested logs because our operations would not survive without access to international log prices. We would happily sell our logs domestically if we could obtain the true international price.

Selling our logs below the cost of production is not an option if we want to sustain our businesses and continue to provide jobs, maintain forests, and support our communities.

Here are a few key facts:

  • Annually, BC’s private forest lands provide 5,000 jobs, contribute over $1 billion in economic activity, and generate $150 million in tax revenue.
  • Log exports are an entirely acceptable, normal, routine trade activity carried out by every major timber growing country around the world.
  • The BC coast has a huge timber surplus and coastal BC log processing capacity continues to decline.
  • Coastal forests now grow and harvest more logs than coastal mills can digest at a ratio of 2:1.
  • If domestic log prices were competitive, there would be no incentive to export logs to better markets.
  • Domestic coastal BC log prices are discounted as much as 50% from the true international price.
  • The discounted prices offered in the domestic log market do not support sustainable, responsible forest stewardship.
  • A log export ban without a viable domestic market would destroy our entire sector and all the benefits we generate.
  • BC’s log export “surplus test” policy ensures that not one single log may be exported before local demand has been met.
  • Without the ability to obtain full price for the portion of logs exported, it would not be possible to sell any discounted logs to local mills—this means, local mill jobs are entirely dependent on log exports.
  • Without access to the export market the entire coastal forest sector would grind to an abrupt halt.

Log processing and value adding is a harshly competitive business, and only occurs sustainably where labour costs, operating costs, taxes and regulations are internationally competitive. Low fibre costs alone are not the solution—proof of this is that while BC has the lowest priced logs in the world, value adding investment in BC is dismally minimal.

The best way to reduce log exports is to have a strong, competitive processing sector. Many forest owners, and workers like us, would have a great deal more respect for the Wilderness Committee if they told the truth, or put their money where their mouth is by investing in a BC coastal sawmill, and offered tree growers international prices for our logs.

*In an earlier version of this post, we made an error and referred to the Sierra Club instead of the Wilderness Committee. Sincere apologies for the mistake. Thanks to Torrance Coste for bringing it to our attention.

Congrats! Hancock Timber Resource Group Plants its One Billionth Tree

Hancock has planted more than two trees for every tree harvested since 1985. That’s an average of 32 million trees per year!


Hancock Timber Resource Group celebrates the planting of its one billionth tree.

The Hancock Timber Resource Group is celebrating the planting of its one billionth tree since the organization’s founding in 1985.

The Boston-based timberland investment management organization recently celebrated the milestone with a group of conservation stakeholders at an event in McCloud, California at the McCloud Forest, one of the company’s longest held properties.

“It is an honor to be leading our organization as we recognize this achievement, but what we truly celebrate today are the hundreds of Hancock Timber and Hancock Forest Management employees who have managed our forests since 1985. Their hard work and commitment every day make our long held belief that ‘good stewardship is good business’ a reality,” said Bill Peressini, HNRG Chief Executive Officer. “We also greatly appreciate our partnerships with conservation organizations. We look forward to working together to conserve working forests, which in turn will address critical issues including land use, water quality and climate change.”

“Sustainability is a core value of our organization. We plant roughly two trees for every tree we harvest, an average of more than two and a half million a month for the last 30 years,” said Brent Keefer, president of the Hancock Timber Resource Group. “Even before we harvest, we have plans in place to replant. Most of us won’t be around to see those seedlings grow to maturity, but future generations will benefit from these forests.”

The one billionth tree planted in McCloud was dedicated to the company’s employees, stakeholders, business partners and future generations.

“Working forests are part of the essential green infrastructure of this country. They provide us with clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, habitat for wildlife, recreational opportunities and support more than 2 million jobs. In addition, they are a critical part of our nation’s efforts to address climate change,” said Larry Selzer, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Conservation Fund. “Hancock has been at the forefront of the sustainable management of our nation’s working forests for more than three decades, conserving sites with high conservation value, promoting forest certification, and reforesting timberlands after harvest. This is a tremendous milestone for the company and we are proud to partner with them.”

Mr. Keefer noted that the one billion seedlings, a $1.1 billion investment, have been planted on the properties it manages in the United States, Canada, South America, New Zealand and Australia. These trees will provide enough wood to build more than 2 million homes and will store over their lifetime more than 730 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The seedlings would be enough to entirely reforest every acre within Rhode Island and Delaware, or create a six lane wide forest from Boston to San Francisco.

Important Notice from BC Assessment

BC Assessment has asked PFLA to alert members that two aspects of tax law have caused significant concern for some purchasers of private managed forest land:

  1. Purchasers of managed forest land may be responsible for paying taxes on timber previously harvested by the Vendor; and,
  2. Purchasers of managed forest land may be responsible for paying exit fees to the Managed Forest Council if the property is removed from managed forest class.

These points are explained in detail below. Or you can download the full pdf document IMPORTANT NOTICE: Purchasers of Private Managed Forest Land

If you have any questions or concerns please contact Bill Hampton by email: managedforest@bcassessment.ca or phone: 1-866-valueBC (825-8322), Ext 00225.

BC Assessment is committed to providing, fair, accurate and reliable assessment services and property information for British Columbia. As part of honouring that commitment, we are providing this Important Notice to Purchasers of Private Managed Forest Land to ensure they are aware that:

  • The land may be assessed at a higher value to account for the economic benefit of timber previously harvested on that land; and,
  • Exit fees, as administered by the Managed Forest Council, may be charged if the property is removed from managed forest land class.

Private managed forest land and harvested timber are valued on the basis of legislated rates prescribed by BC Assessment through regulation each year and given Class 7 – Private Managed Forest Land. This property class is valued on a two-part basis, as detailed in Section 24 of the Assessment Act:

  • Bare land value, which incorporates such factors as soil quality, accessibility, topography, parcel size and location; and,
  • Added value of the timber on the land, which becomes assessable when it is harvested:
    • For example, timber harvested in the 2015 calendar year will show as added value on the 2017 Property Assessment Notice. For property taxes payable in the summer of 2017, part of the value may also come from the harvesting of trees two years previously, i.e. timber harvested in the 2015 calendar year.

Prospective purchasers of property classed as private managed forest land are advised to enquire about previous timber harvesting on the property and its potential property tax implications.

Exit fees may be incurred for properties removed from managed forest land class. The exit fee is intended to encourage long-term participation in the Managed Forest Program and is applied to property that is removed from managed forest land class prior to fifteen years enrolment. These fees are administered by the Managed Forest Council.

For more Information on exit fees, please visit the Managed Forest Council website at mfcouncil.ca or call (250) 386-5737.

For information on Managed Forest Land classification or details regarding your Managed Forest property assessment, please contact us at:

BC Assessment – Managed Forest
400 – 3450 Uptown Blvd
Victoria, BC V8Z 0B9
Email: managedforest@bcassessment.ca
Phone: 1-866-valueBC (825-8322), Ext 00225


BC Assessment