B.C. lumber-industry recovers, but it’s a shadow of past glory

Trade figures and production reports paint a brightening picture of a British Columbia forest industry that is recovering, returning to profitability and regaining a sliver of the ground it lost during the U.S. housing crash that bottomed out in 2009.

However, this recovery, two years in the making, is running headlong into the aftermath of the mountain pine beetle infestation that decimated 18 million hectares of B.C. forests and poses a serious limit to the timber supply available to mills and communities in the very near future.

The whole industry has long known the infestation’s consequences were on the horizon, but they are coming home perhaps sooner than expected for communities such as Houston and Quesnel, where companies announced they’ll be closing sawmills as early as 2014.