International Perspectives

Turkeys, Tasmania and the Softwood Lumber Dispute

logs and lumberIn a recent post, What Turkeys Can Teach Us About B.C. Timber Supply Complaints, PFLA summarized some observations and complaints gleaned from our participation in a number of public and industry forums with both the business community and the forest industry about the future of forests and fibre supply availability in British Columbia.

Interestingly enough, at about the same time, on the other side of the world, the Tasmanian Blackwood Growers Society was writing about their amazement at the echoes a recent softwood lumber dispute story published in the Financial Post has for their country.

“It seems the forest industry has the same problems around the world,” begins Gordon Bradbury before providing a brief analysis of the parallels between the Canadian and Tasmanian situations. He concludes, “and here we are in Tasmania with exactly the same problem, but we don’t have a trade partner like the USA to kick our stupid butt!”

To read the complete article, Canada–United States softwood lumber dispute, please follow the link.

How Storytelling Changed Public Opinion – Lessons from the Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA)

What you do is important. Your values, goals, objectives – the things you stand for and the actions you take.

Here at the PFLA blog we stand for responsible stewardship of B.C.’s private forestlands – our actions as forest stewards support government policies that balance environment, community and commerce.

Like the PFLA, the Washington Forest Protection Association (WFPA) represents private forest landowners (only they do it in Washington state).

In 1990, the WFPA initiated a major public opinion survey. At the time, the general belief was that private forest landowners were careless with their timber harvests, and causing harm to forests, streams and wildlife. Not true in practice, pollsters believed the public’s negative reaction resulted, in large part, because forest owners weren’t communicating their story.

More than ten years later, public perception has changed. The WFPA spent time and resources letting people know who they are and what they do, and it turns out, Washington voters “like” private forest landowners.

In fact, a 2011 public opinion poll showed:

  • 70% believe private forest landowners protect wildlife habitat on their forestland “very” or “fairly” well.
  • 66% think private forest landowners protect fish habitat in streams “very” or “fairly” well
  • 64% think water quality in streams on private forestland was “very” or “fairly” well protected
  • Finally, there’s widespread agreement throughout the state among all voter subgroups that habitat and water quality on private forestland was “very” or “fairly” well protected.

Who the WFPA is, and what they do, didn’t change – they just did a better job of letting people know about it.

That’s why PFLA spends time, effort and resources letting the public know who we are, what we stand for and how we do what we do. Intuitively, we knew this was a good idea, but a little evidence never hurt anyone.

B.C. log exports soar on new Chinese demand

By Gordon Hamilton
Vancouver Sun May 17, 2011 5:33 AM

METRO VANCOUVER – When Port Alberni Mayor Ken McRae sees a freighter leaving his coastal sawmilling town loaded with wood, the pride he once felt has turned to a deep concern for the future of the British Columbia coastal forest industry.

Once those ships were loaded with lumber. Now, half the cargo is logs.

Log exports have exploded in B.C. in the last few months, largely to feed China’s voracious appetite for fibre. McRae is not opposed to exports; they have a place in a healthy industry, he said. But he fears China’s appetite for B.C. logs is going to cut into manufacturing here.

“China, Korea and Japan are paying more for logs than most of our sawmillers can afford. It’s a huge issue that’s going to come back to bite us,” he said in an interview

Capitalizing on Nature’s Benefits: New Incentives for Private Forest Landowners

The Hills Congress Blog
By Gerry Gray – 05/09/11 11:06 AM ET

Private forests are essential to the environment, culture and economy of our country. While traditionally valued primarily for wood products — lumber and paper — these forests also provide numerous public benefits referred to as ecosystem services, such as clean water, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat.

More than 420 million acres — about 56 percent of our nation’s forests — are privately owned by nearly 11 million landowners. About three-quarters of these private forests are in the Eastern United States.

Instead of supporting needed reforms State Dept. of Natural Resources advocates for increased fees

For more information, please contact:
Cindy Mitchell, (360) 791-9372

Mark Doumit, Executive Director of the Washington Forest Protection Association, made the following statement today in response to Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark’s advocacy for increased timber fees. Private companies have been forced to reset the way they do business because of the national housing crisis, while housing starts remain at their lowest level since 1959. The state agencies need to reset the way they do business to reflect the realities of the current economy.

U.S. and Canadian Timber Exporters Diverge in Handling China’s Increased Demand

Seeking alpha
February 14, 2011
By: Hakan Ekstrom

The value of softwood logs and lumber exported from North America to China reached over US$1.6 billion in 2010. This was 150 percent higher than the previous year and more than ten times as much as in 2006, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.

China has come to the rescue for many sawmills and timberland owners in the U.S. and Canada over the past year. The value of softwood logs and lumber shipped from North America to China is estimated to have reached over $1.6 billion in 2010, which is up dramatically from just a few years ago. In 2008, total exports were valued at $350 million, while they were only $125 million five years ago.

U.S. taking Canada to arbitration over softwood

OTTAWA— From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 6:24PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 6:37PM EST


The beetle infestation that has ravaged the dense forests of the B.C. Interior could wind up costing Canada a good deal more – up to a half-billion dollars in penalties to the United States.

The Obama administration opened an aggressive new legal front in the enduring trade fight over lucrative softwood lumber exports, accusing Canada of violating a 2006 deal by allowing British Columbia to sell vast quantities of cut-rate, Crown-owned timber to lumber companies.