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Forest Expo, being held May 9 to 11 in Prince George, BC, has earned a reputation as a show where buyers and sellers can do business. 

By Jim Stirling

Preparations for Forest Expo 2002 are in the home stretch and despite forest industry inertia the show is poised to buck the odds and emerge a winner once more. Unprecedented changes, uncertainties and dislocations within the policy structure of the British Columbia forest industry continue. 

Putting together a show successfully against that backdrop is daunting. "There was certainly trepidation earlier on," confirms Trudy Swaan, Forest Expo's general manager. "But as we've moved closer to the dates, we've been reassured that some of our earlier fears have been allayed. "The show's big anchors are returning and they are requiring at least the same booth spaces as before," she says. 

Forest Expo 2002 will take place at Exhibition Park in Prince George, BC from May 9 to 11. The fact that the "big anchors" are returning reinforces another positive for Forest Expo. The show has earned a reputation from its beginnings in 1985 as a place where qualified buyers and sellers can do business. When times are tough and the industry is hurting, participation in such a forum becomes increasingly cost-effective.

For space reservation and further information on Forest Expo 2002 call 250-563-8833 or check out www.forestexpo.bc.ca

Early this year, Forest Expo experienced a complication it could have well done without. Concerned people were phoning up and leaving messages from as far away as eastern Canada about the cancellation of this year's Forest Expo. That's definitely not happening. But the confusion arose after word spread that the Northern Forest Products Association (NFPA) was cancelling its spring convention in Prince George this year. Although the NFPA convention is not going ahead this year, it has no connection with Forest Expo, which is going ahead as scheduled. 

The NFPA and its parent body, the Council of Forest Industries of BC, is undergoing a re-structuring process triggered by the membership withdrawal of Canfor which, as Canada's largest softwood lumber producer with extensive operations in the BC interior, was the major financial contributor to the NFPA. Forest Expo will present a typically broad-based show. This year will feature increased participation from the secondary manufacturing sector. One of the buildings at Exhibition Park will be named the Value Added Market Place with the uniting theme of "exploring wood's potential". 

One of the attractions inside will be a display of the winners in 10 different categories of competition for the utilization of pine stained blue by the mountain pine beetle epidemic raging in west central BC, the cleverly dubbed "denim pine". "The idea of the 'denim pine' competition was initiated by BC Wood as part of a three phase effort to promote the use of blue stained pine in secondary wood products," explains Bill Downing, manager of the BC Wood Council. "Phase one is a competition to determine interest, phase two is the display of winning products in several trade shows in the US and Canada and phase three is a conference." The "denim pine" trademark is held in Canada and the US by Lynn and Shane Pont of Quesnel, BC. 

Their company, Blue Forest Consulting, will also participate in Forest Expo. They will be actively buying, selling and purchasing several "denim pine" products. This will develop as the markets come, says Lynn Pont. She predicts products like doors will be first, followed by utilization of the resource throughout the rustic home market. A two-story log home using blue stained pine wood will be put together at Forest Expo. Fixtures and furnishings will highlight the diversity of "denim wood" and other BC hardwood and softwood species. 

The huge quantities of pine infected by the beetle offer great opportunities for small and medium businesses and come as an employment driver when it's needed most. That is reflected in a key recommendation in the Rogers Consulting report commissioned by the provincial government into the business and social impacts of the evolving beetle epidemic. "We recommend that the Ministry of Forests make beetle wood available to viable and innovative non-SPF dimension lumber value added business opportunities that support the primary target of maximizing green attack harvest," wrote the report's authors. 

Other highlights at Forest Expo will include seminars (one focussing on secondary manufacturing and the other on harvesting and processing techniques and technologies), a GIS conference May 8-9, a full slate of loggers' sports competitions, social events and prominent guest speakers.

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