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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

February 2016

On the Cover:
The world’s leading steep slope innovators from New Zealand and North America will be at the Steep Slope Logging Conference and Field Demo being held March 2-3. Further information on the conference which is being presented by Logging & Sawmilling is available at www.steepslopelogging.events. (Photo of a Tigercat LS855C configured for steep slope logging courtesy of Frank Chandler, Technical Forest Solutions, LLC.)

Campbell River’s goal: reviving the forest industry
The city of Campbell River, B.C. has set up a Forestry Task Force—chaired by a forest industry veteran—to revive the forest industry in the Vancouver Island community.

COFI convention—Where to from here for lumber markets?
With softening lumber markets in China, and a still slowly recovering U.S. housing market, the industry has definitely got some challenges ahead of it, all of which will be discussed at the Council of Forest Industries annual convention and trade show, coming up in Kelowna, B.C. April 6-8.

White River’s sawmill lines are white hot
Ontario’s White River Forest Products sawmill is intent on being one of Canada’s most efficient sawmills, and that effort recently received a $15 million capital investment that will significantly boost production.

Climbing steep slopes—with the ClimbMAX
B.C.’s Tolko Industries was the first operation in North America to use a winch-assist forestry machine—the ClimbMAX steep slope harvester from New Zealand—and their experience so far has been positive.

Remote Operated Bulldozer system tackles B.C.’s steep slopes
Island Pacific Logging has been using the steep slope Remote Operated Bulldozer (ROB) winch assist system—developed in New Zealand—on Vancouver Island since last summer, and it’s working so well that the company has agreed to be the North American distributor for the system.

Getting the most out of every scrap of wood
Producing everything from solid wood products to shavings, the Lewis Mouldings and Wood Specialties mill operation in Nova Scotia is known for its high wood utilization.

Log handler ably handles east coast weather
Groupe Savoie tried out a number of log loading machines for the millyard at their sawmill in Quentin, New Brunswick, and decided on a Sennebogen 830 M-T, a log handler that is able to handle the cold—and wet weather—that hits the region.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.

The Last Word
Whatever happens in the forest industry in 2016, it sure as heck isn’t going to be boring, says Jim Stirling.

DEPARTMENTS

Tech Update: Primary Breakdown

Supplier Newsline

 

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COFI ConventionCOFI convention to cover the challenges—and opportunities—ahead for B.C.’s forest industry

There are challenges and new opportunities ahead for the B.C. forest industry, and both will be covered off at the Council of Forest Industries’ annual convention, being held in Kelowna, B.C. April 6-8.

By Jim Stirling

China is changing and as it does so shifts are occurring in the market demands for British Columbia’s wood products. This presents both challenges and new opportunities, observes Susan Yurkovich, the new president and chief executive officer the Council of Forest Industries (COFI).

COFI ConventionThat message, along with other topics focused on the theme of industry competitiveness, will be expanded upon and developed during COFI’s annual convention, being held in Kelowna, B.C. April 6-8.

Late in 2015, Yurkovich participated in a trade mission to China and Japan led by Steve Thomson, B.C.’s Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. More than 30 other forestry executives took the opportunity to accompany the minister for a first-hand look at what’s happening in China today and to solidify contacts and co-operation with their Chinese counterparts.

“China has been a big success story and the result of concerted hard work by a partnership of senior levels of government and the forest industry,” outlines Yurkovich by way of background.

COFI ConventionSusan Yurkovich, the new president and chief executive officer of the Council of Forest Industries (COFI).

Much of China’s demand for B.C. wood products came in the form of lower grades of product. But it was the timing that proved so serendipitous. The Chinese appetite for lower grades of wood coincided with the recession and collapse of the United States lumber market while at the same time the B.C. Interior was awash in salvaged mountain pine beetle-ravaged wood. The Chinese demand for product kept more than one B.C. Interior sawmill from permanent closure and thwarted all the accompanying negative social ramifications.

Yurkovich had the opportunity to listen to customers, builders, architects and designers while in China. One of the conclusions she came away with: “There’s an opportunity (for B.C. producers) to move up the value chain.” She cited the example of furniture manufactured in China, demand for which has been steady or increasing while demand for lower grades of wood has recently declined, as B.C. sawmills can attest. B.C. and Canada’s most promising opportunity might prove to be increasing wood use in mid-rise buildings, multi-family dwellings, institutional buildings, schools and universities, suggests Yurkovich.

Elsewhere, multi-storey wood buildings in Japan have the advantage of being able to withstand significant seismic activity, compared with other building materials, she notes. And India—looking to join Japan and China as a market for B.C. wood products—offers intriguing potential. “The logistics are different,” she concedes. The challenge is to identify specific wood products that could be successfully exported to India in the future.

COFI ConventionThe COFI annual convention routinely attracts up to 500 delegates, including forest industry executives from around North America as well as offshore. Trade—in one form or another—will be front and centre on the minds of many attendees at Kelowna’s Delta Grand Okanagan Resort.

Canada and B.C. are in the standstill period guaranteeing no trade action after the expiry last October of the latest Softwood Lumber Agreement with the U.S. The standstill period is set to expire October 13 and no formal talks between the two countries have been announced at the time of writing.

The Canadian position has been clearly stated. “While free trade would be preferable, managed trade has benefited both countries by providing reliable, affordable, high quality lumber supply from Canada to the United States, and maintaining certainty of market access for Canadian producers,” summarizes Yurkovich, who is also president of the B.C. Lumber Trade Council.

Both parties have learned from past experience that any litigation launched surrounding the bilateral lumber trade is hugely costly and time consuming. Then there’s the uncertainty factor, not knowing how the issue will be resolved. “Capital doesn’t like uncertainty and that’s true for any business, anywhere,” states Yurkovich. “Uncertainty is not great for investment in the sector on either side of the border and there are about 145,000 direct and indirect forest industry jobs in B.C.”

Cofi ConventionThe impacts of fewer and more expensive sawlogs as a result of the mountain pine beetle epidemic will be discussed at sessions on competitiveness during COFI’s convention. “Our allowable annual cut in B.C. is going to be lower and we’re going to have to adjust to a new normal,” predicts Yurkovich. “We have to deal with capacity issues. It’s going to be a different sector, probably slightly smaller.” But the outcome of the process will, she believes, be a sustainable industry that can compete in a global context.

The competitiveness umbrella at the COFI convention also encompasses First Nations and business partnerships. “Our industry has worked hard to develop partnerships with First Nations,” says Yurkovich. First Nations have been granted tenures in B.C. and native-owned companies are bidding on and winning contracts. She notes the forest industry/First Nations relationship is in transition regarding legal frameworks and expectations surrounding land access. What the industry wants is to continue to make quality wood products and keep the communities in which it operates going and healthy, she adds.

A feature of recent COFI annual conventions has been building the opportunity for good old face to face communication and networking into the event’s formal program. The 2016 convention includes a networking reception and generous time around the business sessions for delegates to intermingle and visit the booths of more than 40 exhibitors of forest industry goods and service providers at the convention’s trade show.

COFI annual conference organizers have always made the effort to be inclusive with their invitees to the event. This includes local politicians and others drawn from B.C. communities with an economic reliance on the forest industry. Taking that initiative a step further, an interesting exercise in role reversal is scheduled to be part of this April’s event in Kelowna. The forest industry executives and experts will vacate the stage and leave the speakers’ podium to others, including four elected mayors—chosen from communities between Prince George and Cranbrook—who will address the delegates from their perspectives.

For further information about this year’s COFI convention, guest speakers and full program detail check cofi.org