COFI Releases Plan for Forestry Future

September 19, 2019
Susan Yurkovich

Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries

The BC Council of Forest Industries (COFI) recently released a plan – “Smart Future: A Path Forward for BC’s Forest Products Industry” – with 60 policy choices that can be made today to secure a stronger future for BC’s forest sector.

The forest industry has been a cornerstone of the BC economy for more than 100 years, generating about 140,000 jobs in our province, including one in four jobs in the manufacturing sector. The industry is currently facing significant challenges that are being felt across the province.

“BC’s forest industry is an industry in transition,” said Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO of the BC Council of Forest Industries. “The industry is facing somewhat of a perfect storm – an array of market and operating challenges coming together at a time when we are also experiencing a significant structural shift in the availability and cost of fibre. These conditions are forcing difficult decisions, which are impacting workers and communities.”

A number of policy reviews and public consultations are underway to discuss the challenges. COFI and its member companies are actively participating in these discussions along with many other groups.

“In addition to addressing today’s challenges, many people are asking what the future holds for forestry in British Columbia, and where will we be once we have moved through this transition,” commented Yurkovich. “We believe that with the right choices, there is a bright future for the forest industry in BC That’s why we are putting forward our ideas for a path forward – one that will help attract investment, secure jobs, deliver value and sustain economic benefits across the province.”

“Some of these policy choices can be implemented by industry, others will require government action, and many will require collective effort from workers, communities, First Nations, academic institutions and all those involved in the sector to build the industry of the future,” added Yurkovich.

The 60 choices for a better future are outlined under five major areas:

  • Invest in, and protect, our working forest land base
  • Have smart rules that protect the environment and encourage investment
  • Strengthen participation of Indigenous people and partnerships with communities
  • Double down on market and product diversification
  • Be the global hub for expertise in low-carbon, green building

“Our industry is facing weak markets, volatile prices, punishing U.S. tariffs and high fibre costs which are making it impossible to operate economically today. We need to work together to put these ideas into action and find ways to get back to a competitive position so we can get contractors and employees back to work,” said Dick Jones of Teal Jones Group.

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