Despite having the richest forest resources in Canada, BC lags behind other provinces in generating jobs making higher-value wood products, and is at increased risk of losing further ground as it exports more raw logs and low-value wood products to China.
These are the conclusions of a new report issued by a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
However, the report says that, with targeted efforts, thousands of new forest industry jobs could be created while boosting the health of BC's forests.
'BC is missing out on major opportunities to create green, sustainable jobs in a revitalized forest sector that places a premium on healthy carbon stores in our forests and forest products,' says author Ben Parfitt, resource policy analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The report identifies a number of areas where BC could boost jobs including:
- 2,630 additional manufacturing jobs turning raw logs that are currently exported into higher-value forest products.
- Another 2,400 jobs per year converting usable logs left behind at logging sites (and often burned) into forest products instead.
- Another 10,000-plus jobs over time in the production of secondary forest products such as pre-fabricated housing components, a job increase that would begin to catch BC up with Ontario and Quebec who are outcompeting BC in production of value-added forest products. And,
- An additional 5,200 seasonal tree-planting and tree nursery jobs, funded by an annual $100 million public investments in reforestation.
'BC has shown leadership in its commitments to lower greenhouse gas emissions. But it has not done near enough to take advantage of numerous opportunities to increase the health of its forests by storing more carbon in its trees and forest products. There is great potential for more sustainable jobs in the forest sector,' Parfitt says. 'It's time to get on with the job.'
Making the Case for a Carbon Focus and Green Jobs in BC's Forest Industry is available for download. This report is part of the Climate Justice Project, a five-year research project led by CCPA-BC and the University of BC.