Future of Forest Industry “Pretty Solid” Says COFI VP
Prince George, B.C. – Slow and steady growth along with diversification in the marketplace “spells a pretty solid future” for B.C.’s forest industry.
That from Council of Forest Industries (COFI) vice-president Doug Routledge.
“Well the industry continues to recover from the recession,” he says. “And certainly is taking it’s time to materialize, but that’s no necessarily a bad thing.”
Routledge says slow and steady growth “means it’s fairly easy to business manage and predict.”
“You can tune your production and your capital investments in a more business like fashion, rather than trying to react to quite violent swings.”
He says another reason for optimism is the diversification going on in the industry.
“We’re going through quite a transformation right now. Where the fundamental building blocks for the business have been lumber, panel products and pulp and paper,” says Routledge.
“We’re increasingly producing other kinds of forest products out of the forest using parts of trees, fibre that we didn’t use before and would have left in the bush.”
He says that includes things like residues out of sawmills, laminated lumber and laminated panels.
“So that diversity of product line and the slow steady recovery I think spells a good future for the industry.”
Routledge admits though that means bad news for some. “There won’t be as many employed in lumber because lumber is contracting. There’s more people employed in these, what we’ll call secondary product lines.”
He also notes that on balance, the weak Canadian dollar is helpful to Canadian forest products flowing into the United States, adding a reduction in lumber demand from China hasn’t been too damaging due to changes in the domestic market.
“The building code in B.C. changed and we’re able to build six storeys in wood now (previously it was four),” he says. “And in Quebec recently they’ve raised that up to I believe 10 or 12 storeys. So the growth in that area of product supply is probably where the more important gains are going to be made in terms of volume flowing.”