Dwight Yochim

Diversity in forestry is the way to go, say Truck Loggers

Restricting log exports won’t help B.C.’s forestry industry

Restricting log exports won’t help B.C.’s forestry industry, but encouraging diversification will, says Dwight Yochim, executive director of The Truck Loggers Association.

The coastal-based association of independent loggers has approximately 425 members, including 74 in Campbell River.

“That is a pretty significant number of employers and a big part of Campbell River’s economy,” says Yochim during a stop in the city Tuesday.

Yochim, a registered professional forester, is touring coastal communities making sure the association’s “voice” is heard as the provincial election ramps up.

“We also want to see the parties’ platforms on forestry,” he says. “The NDP’s is interesting. For the most part it’s pretty decent. One thing to caution though is the talk of reducing log exports. It sounds great, but it’s not easy.”

It’s simple economics, he says. For several years now, demand dwindled and prices dropped. Additionally, logging on the coast, particularly Vancouver Island, is among the most costly anywhere in North America. Shipping logs overseas has kept a lot of the independent loggers going through the downturn, Yochim points out, because international buyers were simply able to offer more for the same log compared to B.C. buyers.

But supply is not the problem, he insists. In the last decade, the annual allowable cut on Crown land has not been met, partly due to the lack of demand.

“If we could take the annual allowable cut, we could supply all the mills, still have extra for export, and we can continue to diversify,” he says.

The good news is demand is picking up, along with prices. Diversification, says Yochim, includes expansion into U.S. commercial building, the Chinese and Indian markets, and creating more products such as cross-laminated timber and wood pellets.

“All of that can help create demand and the prices we need to be viable. That’s the number-one and if we work on that, the issues of export and domestic supply go away,” he says.

As well, earning top dollar for logs or lumber allows companies to invest in new equipment. For example, says Yochim, New Zealand loggers have developed a feller-buncher that can climb 140-per cent slopes, by using a specialized winch.

Here on the Island, where slopes are just as steep, typical feller-bunchers can only handle a 40-degree incline. Investing in this equipment is expensive, says Yochim, but it allows companies to remain competitive in a global market.

“Technology isn’t cheap, but it’s what we need to be a nice, viable industry,” he says.

 

Locally

 

  • T-Mar Industries of Campbell River has been preparing for the rebound in logging. The company is rebuilding and refurbishing the big 400 series excavators for larger-scale logging. It is also designing and building Log-Champ swing yarders which are more powerful and lighter than older models, and specifically designed for improved performance in steep slope logging.
  • The We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge) First Nation and the Campbell River-based Pallan group, have formed the Middle Point Harbour Limited Partnership. One of the company’s projects is to build a wood pellet manufacturing plant in North Campbell River (across the road from T-Mar).

See what the North Island’s three candidates have to say about forestry and log exports  under the election tab.