After almost a decade in the doldrums, the forest industry is steaming back into the B.C. economy, with companies clamouring for more wood from forests that have been devastated by the mountain pine beetle.
Two forces — one economic, the other environmental — define the issues facing British Columbia’s forests: The beetle destroyed so much timber that the province stopped trying to keep an inventory of what’s left until the epidemic died down; and now that the industry is recovering, those areas that still have healthy, green timber are coming under increasing pressure to supply wood to mills that are now starved. There are no feel-good solutions.
“The writing is clearly on the wall: The Interior has a lot less fibre to work with,” said Ben Parfitt, resources analyst at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.