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Wood deal could export jobs: group

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

Environmentalists want to know what kind of wood will be exported to China. (REUTERS)

Environmentalists want to know what kind of wood will be exported to China. (REUTERS)

A memorandum of understanding between the British Columbia government and a province in China could be a good thing, but it could also mean jobs will be exported along with lumber, warns an environmental group.


The province announced the MOU with Zhejiang province Wednesday, heralding the agreement would see an increase in the construction of wood-frame homes in the province, which would mean heightened exports for B.C.

“The MOU calls on the two governments to promote the use of environmentally friendly low-carbon, wood-frame construction, develop wood-frame construction codes and standards for application in China,” said the Ministry of Forests in a release.

Dwight Yochim, executive director at the Truck Loggers Association, said the news is good for the industry.

Yochim said the association has been encouraging the broadening of the province’s customer base for wood products for years.

“To get China to start to look more at the actual wood products and how it’s used in building construction is a really good thing,” Yochim said. “The more we diversify our lumber and our products and our clients, the better we are as an industry.”

But Torrance Coste from the Wilderness Committee said building homes from wood over concrete is indeed environmentally preferred, but added there was another bit of information missing from the release – what exactly B.C. will export.

“Highly processed wood products made in B.C. create good, long-term jobs here, adding value to the forest industry and strengthening forest communities,” Coste wrote in an email. “Exporting raw logs, on the other hand, is a completely irresponsible use of forest resources — it contributes directly to mill closures and the loss of jobs here, necessitates shorter harvest rotations, and poorer environmental management.”

Exporting raw lumber rather than manufactured products has long been a complaint of some labour groups and politicians in the province.

Coste said his organization would be taking a serious look at the agreement.

“The current government has had no problem increasing raw log exports and sending B.C. forestry jobs offshore during its time in office,” he said. “Essentially turning its back on the province in favour of large corporate interests, so deals like this should be scrutinized very closely.”


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