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Timber harvests in Canada have increased 14 per cent in five years

October 16, 2015 - In 2014, Canada harvested an estimated 137 million cubic metres of industrial roundwood, which was 1.3 per cent more than in 2013 and 14 per cent more than in 2010. 

According to analysis by Wood Resources International, a large majority of the harvested trees, almost three-quarters, were softwood sawlogs destined for the sawmilling industry predominantly in the provinces of B.C., Alberta and Quebec. 

A major share of harvested hardwood trees is small-diameter logs used by the pulp mills and OSB manufacturers in Alberta and the Eastern provinces. 

Hardwood harvest levels have been fairly stable at around 20 million cubic metres for a number of years, while softwood harvests have been steadily climbing following the global financial crisis. From 2008 to 2014, softwood log removals in Canada increased by 24 per cent.

The biggest changes in log usage the past five years have been the increased use of softwood sawlogs for lumber production, and the higher consumption of hardwood logs by the OSB industry. In 2014, WRI estimates that 72 per cent of the total harvest was consumed by softwood sawmills, 17 per cent was logs destined for the pulp industry and the remaining 11 per cent was logs to be used by the wood panel sector and for exports.

Over 90 per cent of log exports have been from Western Canada to Asia the past five years, with the total volume shipped overseas increasing from 2.0 million cubic metres in 2010 to 5.8 million cubic metres in 2014. 

Log volumes from British Columbia to China have seen a spectacular rise from about only 100,000 cubic metres in 2007 to 3.4 million cubic metres in 2014.

During the first seven months of 2015, export volumes to Asia declined 17 per cent from the same period in 2014, and total shipments for 2015 will probably be less than five million cubic metres, or almost 21 per cent below the all-time high two years ago.

Although the export market still pays higher prices for both Douglas-fir and hemlock sawlogs than does the domestic market, the average log export price has been sliding faster than domestic prices, according to the WRQ.

Global timber and wood market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly. The report, established in 1988 and with subscribers in over 30 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, lumber and pellet prices, and market developments in most key regions around the world. To subscribe to the WRQ, please go to www.woodprices.com. 

October 16, 2015  By Wood Resources International LLC

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