Coastal Logs Left To Rot

Numerous opportunities to generate jobs from coastal forests are routinely squandered and in the absence of much-needed reforms the situation will only worsen, says a new study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The study focuses on two troubling trends plaguing the coastal industry: rising log exports and mounting wood waste. It finds that the combined effect of wood waste and log exports was a loss of an estimated 5,872 jobs in 2005 and 5,756 jobs in 2006.

"Wood Waste and Log Exports on the BC Coast" reveals that in the last two years, on average, one in three usable logs were either exported or left on the ground to rot.

"Changes to BC forest policies beginning in 2003 paved the way for increased log exports and numerous mill closures. With each mill closure the pressure increases for further exports," says resource policy analyst and report author Ben Parfitt. "Reversing the present and vicious downward spiral of forest industry job loss and coastal community upheaval is imperative and requires a new approach by government."

The study finds that sharp rises in the wasting of logs match changes to BC forest policies that allowed companies to leave usable wood behind in exchange for nominal payments to the provincial government. In 2005 alone, the usable logs wasted on the coast would have filled the beds of 103,826 logging trucks – enough to feed two large sawmills.

"Adding insult to injury, rather than turning those logs into forest products that could have locked carbon up for decades, they were left to rot. That means more CO2 in the atmosphere, which further complicates BC's ability to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets," says Parfitt. He recommends that the province:

* restrict the ability of companies to export raw logs
* require companies to invest in new mills or upgrade existing ones
* penalize companies for unacceptable levels of wood waste

"Staying the present course is a policy option, but not one that most British Columbians would support. Bringing an end to log exports and wood waste should be overriding policy objectives for both the provincial and federal governments," concludes Parfitt.

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