March 26, 2003 Ministry of Forests


Amendments to the Forest Act will enhance regional job creation by removing barriers so companies have access to more timber and workers have more opportunities. Current timber processing requirements have prevented British Columbians from getting the most from their public forests. These policies have sometimes forced forest companies to maintain uneconomic operations and harvest public timber at a loss, creating a vicious circle of declining stability. Other policies penalized licensees for transferring portions of their cutting rights, although those rights might be transferred to operators who could make better use of the timber.

Removing these rigid restrictions will allow the province’s 600 mills to obtain B.C. timber no matter where it was logged, and to pursue new opportunities for growth, timber enhancement and regional job creation, which will strengthen communities in the longer term.

Therefore, government will:

  • Change cut control regulations, allowing licensees to log when it makes business sense to do so, instead of forcing them to log even if there is no market for the wood. (Under the Forest Act, licence holders have been required to harvest at least 50 per cent of their annual allowable annual cut per year, and at least 90 per cent of the cut allowed over a five-year period.)
  • Provide more flexible provisions for starting and stopping a cut control period (the period of time in which licensees are permitted to cut timber). This will give companies more flexibility in business planning and more opportunity to capitalize on good market conditions, returning more revenue, jobs and other benefits to the province.
  • Restrict companies from ‘carrying’ unharvested volumes of timber forward into another cut control period.
  • Protect environmental sustainability by continuing to set caps on how much logging can take place.
  • Eliminate timber-processing requirements so licensees can sell timber within British Columbia instead of processing it themselves. This will create a freer flow of timber, open up opportunities for new B.C. entrepreneurs, and allow operators to specialize in either logging or processing. (Most licences have had some form of timber processing requirement attached to them. These rules force licensees to process at least as much timber as they log at sawmills they own or operate, even if other B.C. operators might be able to put it to a better or higher-value use.)
  • End appurtenancy requirements, thus allowing B.C.’s 600 mills to obtain B.C. timber no matter where it was logged. By eliminating these requirements, which have directed about four per cent of the province’s timber to 14 specific mills, the rest of the province’s processing facilities will have more access to timber, creating more jobs and new opportunities for communities. (Appurtenancy rules dictate which mill a licensee must use to process timber, even if timber could possibly be more efficiently processed, or put to a better use, at another B.C. operation.)
  • Eliminate mill closure penalties, allowing companies to make business decisions about their mill operations. (In the past, government has been able to penalize companies for closing a mill – even if the mill was uneconomic to operate – by removing a portion of their allowable annual cut.)

Government is also committed to diversifying and strengthening the forest sector so that industry is better able to sustain jobs and revenue for British Columbians over the longer term.

Therefore, tenure holders will be able to transfer or subdivide licences without penalty and without going through the current, unnecessarily burdensome process of asking the Minister of Forests for permission. This change will allow unused wood to flow to other, potentially more valuable uses. And it will open up the forest sector to new, potentially more innovative or effective forest managers, helping to ensure that B.C.’s public forests are sustainably managed.

To protect the public interest, government will continue to review these transactions, ensuring that control of the timber supply does not become overly concentrated.

And to ensure that the vast majority of public timber is milled in B.C., government will also maintain restrictions on the export of logs from Crown land.

Taken together, in combination with other changes being made (such as the reallocation of tenure), these changes will result in:

  • Trees being cut only when that would return a net benefit to British Columbians.
  • Significantly more of the province’s wood fibre supply going through open markets of one kind or another.
  • Every log going to its highest and best use within B.C.
  • Removal of barriers to regional job creation.

These polices are designed to put B.C.’s forest industry on a solid business footing. In turn, that will help ensure the B.C. forest sector can thrive in the global marketplace, creating community stability over the longer term and providing revenues that pay for the province’s vital services, such as education and health care.



Media contact:

Mike Hogan
Communications Director
250 387-8486