Latest Report Gives Sobering View of BC Lumber Supply

Originally published by: Wood MarketsAugust 1, 2019

The following article was produced and published by the source linked to above, who is solely responsible for its content. SBC Magazine is publishing this story to raise awareness of information publicly available online and does not verify the accuracy of the author’s claims. As a consequence, SBC cannot vouch for the validity of any facts, claims or opinions made in the article.

The 2019 FEA/IFS report, BC Interior Regional Fibre Supply Forecast: Outlook to 2028 has been released. The report provides a detailed analysis on the wood supply and log processing of all eight B.C. Interior regions, where from 2007 through to 2028, there is a combined total of at least 40 sawmill closures.

The B.C. Interior sawlog supply continues to collapse relative to established sawmill and plywood operational mill capacity. The plunging timber supply is the result of factors that include the residual impacts of the MPB epidemic, forest fires, spruce bark beetle outbreak and caribou habitat protection. This cumulative deficit forecasts (conservatively) that there will be the equivalent of an additional 13 sawmill closures over the next decade (starting in early May 2019), where four have already closed and many are indefinitely curtailed.

The BC Interior Outlook to 2028 report is a follow up to two previous ground-breaking analyses and reports in 2010 and 2012. Using the proprietary B.C. Fibre Model, these reports accurately predicted that 16 sawmills would close by 2018. The 2019 Report provides forecasts to 2028 with more devasting conclusions that many more sawmills will close, as well as the potential closures of pellet mills, co-generation plants and possibly even pulp mills.

Continuing downward pressure on the provincial annual allowable cut (AAC) will result in fewer sawlogs for sawmills and veneer operations. As regional sawlog supplies decline below demand levels, sawmills must reduce shifts, curtail operations or permanently close facilities. Other pressures on the B.C. timber supply, such as the new spruce beetle epidemic, additional forest fires, and First Nations land reconciliation can only take the timber harvest lower. As a result, B.C. lumber production will move much lower and this will disrupt key export markets in the U.S., China and Japan.

In April 2019, B.C.’s Premier announced the BC Interior Forest Sector Renewal Initiative, aimed at developing a competitive, sustainable future for forest companies, workers and communities. Is this a possibility or a discussion around the inevitable? Some communities will flourish, others will languish. This report provides hints to future forest industry possibilities and challenges at a regional level within the BC Interior.

This is a must have report for those both inside and outside of B.C. to better optimize strategic community planning, operational management and market analysis development.