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.