Responding to Norm Macdonald’s column

A letter to the editor in response to NDP MLA Norm Macdonald's March 9 submitted column

Dear Editor:

In response to Norm MacDonald’s March 9 column, I think it’s important for your readers to know the facts.

Yes, Lodgepole pine is susceptible to climate change.  The current mountain pine beetle epidemic has been brought on by decades of fire suppression and warmer winters because of climate change.

Because our interior forests have been changing, we’ve been focusing on diversifying B.C.’s forest sector and making the best use of beetle-attacked wood. Recent regulatory and policy changes brought in by this government encourage utilization of what was previously considered debris.  Wood bioenergy production is increasing and wood pellet exports increased from 1 million tonnes in 2009 to 1.2 million tonnes in 2010. Additionally, new pellet plants are currently being built that will see 400,000 tonnes more of production come on stream in 2011.

Through Wood First we’re increasing the domestic use of B.C.’s wood products. There are almost 100 projects around B.C. taking advantage of the new six-storey limit for wood-frame construction. We’re also supporting new innovative wood products – like cross-laminated timber – a new engineered wood panel that is lightweight and as strong as steel and concrete.

This is in additional to the runaway success we’re seeing in China. Lumber exports to China have increased tenfold since 2003, and in 2010, China became our number two market in terms of value and volume of lumber exports.  Since November 2009, 26 mills have re-opened across B.C. – with many devoting their lumber production to new and growing markets in China.

These days, the most common complaint I hear from industry is, will we have enough skilled workers to meet the increasing demand for B.C.’s high-quality wood products?  Is the forest sector dying? No. It’s on the cusp of an exciting, vibrant and sustainable future.


Pat Bell

Minister of  Forests, Mines and Lands