B.C. Feeds China’s Appetite for Raw Logs

China’s appetite for raw logs harvested from B.C.’s forests has skyrocketed from $9.7 million in 2005 to $283.2 million in 2012. Over the same period, log exports to the U.S. dropped equally sharply, from $276.3 million to $53.4 million.

However, the province’s log exports pale in comparison to softwood lumber exports, and while Chinese demand for B.C. lumber continues to rise, it doesn’t come close to offsetting a precipitous drop in lumber sales to the U.S.

China eclipsed the U.S. as B.C.’s primary destination for log exports several years ago, but the Asian powerhouse has yet to surpass the U.S. as B.C.’s primary customer for exports of processed lumber. China consumed $1 billion of B.C. softwood lumber in 2012, compared to just $54.4 million in 2005. B.C. exported $2 billion of softwood lumber to the U.S. in 2012, compared to $4.8 billion In 2005.

Last month Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced an approximately 20 per cent increase in export fees for logs, effective March 1 this year, in an attempt to discourage export of raw logs. NDP forest critic Norm Macdonald responded that the fee increase would do little to decrease log exports, while at the same time the Liberals had substantially increased the area of Vancouver Island public land open to harvest of raw logs for export.