The Timber Market and its Affects on the Economy

How much does a tree cost to tend and harvest? How much does it cost to buy?  These are simple questions with complex answers. The answers are woven into the history of British Columbia, the nature of its forest resources and industry, and fluctuating world timber prices.

Historically, much of British Columbia's economy has been based on its rich temperate forests. At the end of the nineteenth century, B.C.'s economy was greatly dependent on resource-based industries such as logging, mining, fishing and agriculture. Today B.C.’s economy is rapidly shifting to be more varied and less resource-based. Still, two thirds of the province is covered by crown forests. These forests, which belong to all British Columbians, support an internationally competitive forest industry.

Timber is bought and sold in the global market. B.C.’s key markets are the United States, China, Japan and Europe. Depending on changes in economies worldwide and the demand for timber, the price of timber rises and falls.

Timber prices are also influenced by the B.C. forest industry. It costs the owner or license holder of a timber stand, (whether this is a private individual, company or government), money to harvest trees and deliver them to the marketplace. It costs money in machinery and human resources. People have to be paid to do the work. To make the enterprise worthwhile to owners or license holders, they have to be able to sell the timber for as much as or more than it costs to process the timber.

Despite challenges to B.C.’s forest industry, such as meeting tougher environmental regulations, B.C. is Canada’s leading supplier of wood products. Forest products, such as lumber and paper, make up about half of all B.C. exports. It is not surprising that one in five jobs in the province is linked to the forest industry. These include jobs in the transportation and service sectors.

Jobs directly related to the forest industry, such as logging, tend to pay higher wages than the average B.C. wage. Higher wages allow workers to afford better housing and other necessities, which also add to the provincial economy. Tax revenues that the government collects from forestry help fund services such as health care and education. Forestry is a vital generator of B.C.’s economy.
British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre
British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre
c. 2000
British Columbia, CANADA
© 2006, British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre. All Rights Reserved.

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