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News & Policy


April 07, 2017

Log Exports: The Story Behind the Story

Log Exports: The Story Behind the Story
By David Elstone, RPF, TLA Executive Director
Truck LoggerBC, Spring 2017
 
It’s election time! And as if on cue, that old populist punching bag issue, BC’s log exports, has been pulled out to rally the masses. They’re painting the picture that our forests are being drained for simple profit, powered by the old saying “an exported log is an exported job.” It is easy to pull on heart strings when a loaded logging truck full passes through a town with no sawmill supposedly giving no benefit to the community.
 
So then why am I celebrating that in 2016 log exports as a percentage of the total coastal harvest was 35 per cent? My reasons are simple. 
 
Exporting logs sustains local jobs, keeping workers employed in the woods and in BC sawmills and pulp mills. This is contrary to common belief. However, when you look at the facts, it’s clear it’s the truth. 
 
If we were not exporting those logs (6.3 million cubic metres in 2016), those trees would not have been harvested. They would have been left standing and the loggers and truckers who delivered them would be out of work.
 
What gets overlooked by the anti-log export faction, is the economic reality that BC coastal sawmills, pulp mills and value-add producers need log exports to ensure they get the type of logs their mills need to operate. These manufacturing facilities need a specific type of log or species of timber to operate. Log exports allows us to harvest the entire timber profile. So if log exports were curtailed, the full harvest would be affected not just the 35 per cent that’s exported. With no log exports, there would be far, far greater unemployment in our rural communities.  
 
So how do we explain all the mill closures we have seen in the province over the last 30 years?  Again, much of the anti-log export rhetoric leaves out the full story. No BC sawmill has ever been closed because of a shortage of logs due to log exports. We need to look at the size of the working forest.
 
The BC allowable annual cut (AAC) for coastal Crown land has fallen from a high of 24.5 million cubic metres in 1985 to 16.5 million cubic metres today, a reduction of 8.0 million cubic metres or 33 percent. This is primarily as a result of increased environmental protection that reduced the size of the coastal working forest. Given the log capacity of the current mills operating on the coast, 8 million cubic metres equates to 16 sawmills closed as a result of environmental protection of coastal forests. Simply put, it is wrong to say that mills have closed as a result of log exports. These sawmills and pulpmills have closed, in part, as a result of significant AAC reductions caused by environmental pressure. 
 
Is there anybody investing in new mills if we have the logs?  Indeed there is a brand-new sawmill currently being built in Surrey that will purchase some of these logs to support its operation. However, log exports occur because what we harvest is surplus to domestic demand. 
 
To dig deeper into the question of investment, let’s look to the US Pacific Northwest. There privately owned timberlands are the main source of harvesting in the region and log exports have been a principal product for decades. And yet, new sawmills are being built there today and many, if not most, have seen major upgrades. Despite this investment, sawmill employment has dropped in the Pacific Northwest. Investment drove consolidation in sawmills which resulted in the construction of larger, more cost-effective mills which employed less people than the older, inefficient smaller mills. Something to think about.
 
While BC’s log export policies have been around for over 100 years, markets have changed dramatically. In 2005, log exports to the US were very strong. Today, the US demand has shrunk dramatically and is now fourth on the list of export destinations. As with so much of our BC forest products, China has become the top market for BC log exports. Again, contrary to common belief, very little returns to North America in finished product. If it weren’t for China, there would be significant unemployment in our forest industry across BC. 
 
If the next government in BC wants to create more jobs in the forest industry, they should focus on policy that allows for the harvest of the four million cubic metres of allowable cut that goes unharvested every year. In doing so, they would create upwards of 8,000 jobs across the province. After all, there are two jobs in the forest supply chain (i.e., logging) for every direct manufacturing job. 
 
We celebrate that 35 per cent of the coastal harvest was exported because we wouldn’t likely be here if it wasn’t. Perhaps environmentalists would be happy if that percentage was zero, but I am guessing loggers, mill workers and the rural communities where these people live and work would beg to differ. 
 
 

April 05, 2017

Truck LoggerBC - Spring 2017


April 03, 2017

TLA Finds Support for Forestry in BC’s Coastal Communities

PRESS RELEASE

TLA Finds Support for Forestry in BC’s Coastal Communities
 
April 3, 2017, Vancouver – Nearly 60 per cent of people living in BC’s coastal communities believe our forests are being managed sustainably, according to a new TLA report published today, A Further Look: Community Perspectives on the BC Coastal Forest Industry
 
“While this number is good news, it still shows how much work the forest industry has to do,” said David Elstone, TLA Executive Director. “BC’s forest industry is world class. We need to continue to tell our story to new audiences. And in doing so, the industry needs to demonstrate it is listening to community concerns.”
 
Today’s report follows up on the TLA’s report published last June and is a further look into the relationship between forestry and coastal communities. “In our first report, we spoke with the mayors. In this second report, we did some research to find out what community members thought,” explained Elstone.
 
The TLA will be attending the 2017 AGM & Convention of the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC) later this week in Campbell River to hear more from coastal communities. “The TLA is committed to fostering dialogue on the critical issues that face communities and challenge the sustainability of the timber harvesting sector,” said Elstone.
 
As an advocate for local small businesses that support BC’s coastal communities, the TLA will continue to monitor community perspectives and champion these voices when issues like the softwood lumber trade file, viability of contractors’ businesses, and reductions to the allowable annual cut undermine the stability of the coastal forest industry. “TLA members live and work in these coastal communities. They build their businesses in and around these towns, support local community groups and other local businesses,” said Elstone. “In this way, they are vital to the economic health of the entire province.”
 
The TLA (Truck Loggers Association) represents 480 independent forest contractors and their suppliers operating on the coast of British Columbia. Our membership supports thousands of workers and, along with other independent contractors, accounts for close to 90 per cent of the trees harvested on the coast. The TLA promotes a thriving, sustainable coastal forest industry in BC. 
 
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For more information: Brenda Martin, Director of Communications, The Truck Loggers Association 
Phone: 604.684.4291 ◦ Cell: 604.339.7554 ◦ Fax: 604.684.7134 ◦ Email: brenda@tla.ca
Twitter: @truckloggerBC ◦ Website: www.tla.ca

March 29, 2017

George Abbott to facilitate Contractor Sustainability Review

PRESS RELEASE

George Abbott to facilitate Contractor Sustainability Review
 
March 29, 2017, Vancouver  – Following through on Premier Christy Clark’s commitment at the TLA’s 74th Annual Convention & Trade Show,  the provincial government announced today that George Abbott, along with his partners at Circle Square Solutions, will be the independent facilitator overseeing the Contractor Sustainability Review.
 
"We’re pleased to have an independent facilitator with so much experience working with industry and communities,” said David Elstone, TLA Executive Director. “The Contractor Sustainability Review is the most significant piece of work to affect timber harvesting contractors in almost 20 years and George Abbott is the kind of experienced person we need take on this challenge.”
 
Abbott has had a long and distinguished career in politics and public service, serving in many ministerial positions. During his term in the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, Abbott worked with industry, environmental, and First Nations groups to complete the Great Bear Rainforest agreement.
 
“George Abbott’s experience working with the forest industry through developing the Great Bear Rainforest agreement means he has the on-the-ground experience needed to facilitate the Contractor Sustainability Review,” said Jacqui Beban, TLA President.
 
Timber harvesting contractors are the economic backbone of BC’s rural communities. Working to achieve contractor sustainability will allow independent timber harvesting contractors to earn a fair rate of return so they can continue to provide steady, well-paying jobs in BC’s rural communities.
 
The TLA (Truck Loggers Association) represents 480 independent forest contractors and their suppliers operating on the coast of British Columbia. Our membership supports thousands of workers and, along with other independent contractors, accounts for close to 90% of the trees harvested on the coast. The TLA promotes a thriving, sustainable coastal forest industry in BC.
 
– 30 –
 
For more information: Brenda Martin, Director of Communications, The Truck Loggers Association
Phone: 604.684.4291 ◦ Cell: 604.339.7554 ◦ Fax: 604.684.7134 ◦ Email: brenda@tla.ca
Twitter: @truckloggerBC ◦ Website: www.tla.ca

March 10, 2017

Supporting BC's Timber Harvesting Contractors

Supporting BC's Timber Harvesting Contractors: The Economic Backbone of our Rural Communities
Here's a snapshot of the challenges facing BC's timber harvesting contractors in today's forest industry.


February 03, 2017

Gaps in Safety Net Threaten Forestry Workers and Rural Communities

PRESS RELEASE

Gaps in Safety Net Threaten Forestry Workers and Rural Communities
 
February 3, 2017 Vancouver – BC Forest Safety Ombudsman, Roger Harris, released a report, Will It Be There? A Report on Helicopter Emergency Medical Services in BC, about emergency medical transportation services found in rural BC and how it affects forestry workers. 

According to the findings of the report “there are serious gaps in the provision of emergency medical transportation services to people living and working in rural parts of the province. This gap threatens the safety of forestry workers—as well as residents—who seemingly have little or no guarantee that they will have access to timely medical transportation in the event of an emergency.” 

“The vast majority of timber in BC is harvested by independent timber harvesting contractors and many of them, through necessity, work hours from a paved road, let alone a hospital, in BC’s remote working forest,” said David Elstone, Executive Director of the Truck Loggers Association (TLA). Poor weather, rough terrain and distance are major obstacles to transporting injured workers and they can seriously impede the outcomes of emergency response. “We have a moral obligation to ensure these men and women have timely access to emergency medical transportation services when they need it most.” 
 
“Timber harvesting contractors are the economic backbone of BC rural communities. Their workers and their families should expect the same level of medical evacuation service that those living and working in urban centres rely on,” said Elstone.
 
“Harris has put a spotlight on an important safety issue both in the woods and in our rural communities. The report makes several useful observations and recommendations,” said Elstone. “I think the approach going forward must be flexible and not attempt to solve this problem with one solution across the entire province.  I want to stress that the primary focus here needs to be on what is best for the injured worker. We need to close this gap in the safety net.” 
 
“I thank Roger Harris for filling an important role in helping to seek continuous improvements in safety for our forest industry,” said Elstone. “The independence of his role as BC Forest Safety Ombudsman allows all stakeholders in the forest industry—including independent timber harvesting contractors—to have a voice in industry safety.”
 
 
The TLA (Truck Loggers Association) represents over 470 independent forest contractors and their suppliers operating on the coast of British Columbia. Our membership supports thousands of workers and, along with other independent contractors, accounts for close to 90 per cent of the trees harvested on the coast. The TLA promotes a thriving, sustainable coastal forest industry in BC. 
– 30 –
 
For more information: Brenda Martin, Director of Communications, The Truck Loggers Association 
Phone: 604.684.4291 ◦ Cell: 604.339.7554 ◦ Fax: 604.684.7134 ◦ Email: brenda@tla.ca