Raw log exports skyrocket in British Columbia

Image from Wilderness Committee

Victoria – The controversial practice of raw log exports – shipping unprocessed tree trunks overseas without adding any value here in BC – has reached all-time record levels in the last few years.

The most recent data from BC Stats indicates that 2013 was the record year for raw log exports, with a staggering 6.6 million cubic metres (m3) of timber sent abroad (one cubic metre roughly equals one city telephone pole). That is more than six times the amount that was being exported in the mid-1990s, when raw log exports averaged less than one million m3 per year.

“The spike in raw log exports in the last five years is shocking,” said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “At a time when forestry-based communities are hurting, our government is allowing more logs to be exported than ever before, effectively killing jobs here in BC.”

While 2013 was the record year overall, 2014, 2012 and 2011 came in close behind with more than 5.4 million m3 of wood exported raw each year. If the logs exported in 2014 alone were loaded onto logging trucks and those trucks were lined up end to end, they would cover the distance from Vancouver to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Nearly 97 percent of raw log exports in Canada come from BC. As a result, BC gets fewer jobs and less economic benefit from its forest resources than any other province. To create one full-time job for a year, Ontario must harvest 292 m3 of wood. To create that same job in BC, it takes 1,312 m3.

“BC’s current forest model isn’t working for the environment or our economy. To ensure healthy forests and sustainable employment, we need to cut fewer trees while providing more jobs and more value, like the other provinces do,” says Coste. “Banning raw log exports is the first key step toward this goal.”

The Wilderness Committee and other environmental groups are calling for reforms in BC forest policy, including a ban on old-growth logging, better conservation of endangered species habitat and drinking water sources and greater inclusion and authority for First Nations and forestry communities.