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Top 10 Canadian Forest Industries stories of 2020


December 21, 2020
By CFI staff

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It goes without saying, but 2020 has been an unprecedented year for everyone, especially for those in forestry. After weathering challenging market conditions and sawmill shutdowns in 2019, the expectation was that 2020 would see the industry start to bounce back. But when COVID-19 arrived on the scene in March, it brought a lot of uncertainty, tanked demand and caused sawmills to shut down once again. However, after the initial first wave of the pandemic, lumber prices shot upward and the industry has since seen record prices and demand.

So, despite the challenges posed by operating during a global pandemic, which required all forestry companies to implement new health and safety measures, the industry has once again proven its resilience, and is reaping the rewards. And the forest sector is poised to play a key role in the country’s economic recovery.

In fact, the federal government earmarked more than $3 billion for the forestry sector to help plant two billion trees and to offset costs associated with COVID-19 safety measures. The Ontario government also released its forest sector strategy in August this year, highlighting the need to increase the annual allowable cut for Ontario loggers, utilize more of the fibre from every tree, and develop new markets for wood products. And the Quebec government identified forestry as a key player in the fight against climate change and allocated funding to support innovation in forestry, including $2 million for FPInnovations.

But, there are still issues that need to be addressed, particularly in B.C. and Nova Scotia. In B.C., new government regulations regarding stumpage and export fees pose another challenge to an industry that is already in transition thanks to fibre supply challenges. In Nova Scotia, the shutdown of Northern Pulp at the beginning of the year caused shockwaves, effectively eliminating the pulp market for the region. While the Nova Scotia government has since created a forestry transition team and provided funding for those impacted by the change, its impact will be felt for years to come. All of these changes are reflected in the results of CFI’s 2020 Contractor Survey. On the whole, Canada’s loggers are facing mounting difficulties, especially when it comes to profitability, operating costs, harvesting volume and succession planning. You can find the collection of survey snippets here, and look for the full digital ebook in the new year.

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Here’s a look at the top 10 most-read CFI stories of 2020:

10) 2020 Contractor Survey: Regional View – BC Coast

Since CFI’s 2016 Contractor Survey, contractors on the B.C. Coast have made a comeback. According to the results of our 2020 survey, logging rates have improved for nearly half of all Coastal contractors, revenue is up, and more young people are entering the industry. But challenges remain, such as higher operating costs, which lead to low profit margins, and regulatory issues including export policies and stumpage fees. READ MORE.

9) The CFI Podcast: David Murray on working safely during COVID-19

Early on in the pandemic, forestry was declared an essential service across Canada, which meant workers needed to follow appropriate health and safety guidelines and employers needed to stay up-to-date as the situation rapidly evolves. But there is a lot of information out there to sort through and it can be difficult to know what best practices to follow. So, we spoke with David Murray, corporate safety, HR and environment manager for Gorman Group and co-chairperson of the Manufacturing Advisory Group, about how to work safely during COVID-19. READ MORE.

8) Final Cut: Advancing mass timber

In this Final Cut column from CFI’s Sept/Oct 2020 issue, Hardy Wentzel, CEO of Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation, takes a look at British Columbia’s role in promoting the mass timber industry. READ MORE.

7) The CFI Podcast: Tanya Wick on women in forestry
To celebrate International Women’s Day coming up on March 8, we spoke with Tanya Wick, Tolko Industries’ vice-president of people and services, about all things women in forestry: the importance of gender diversity hiring practices, industry initiatives to address gender diversity, advice for women looking to get into the industry, and more. READ MORE.

6) Dynamic operations: Ben Hokum & Son bets big on optimization
In 2016, Dean Felhaber, president of Killaloe, Ont.-based Ben Hokum & Son (one of the largest producers of white and red pine products in the region) began planning a number of modernization projects, including upgrading their small log sawmill to run larger logs, a new grading line and more. CFI gets an inside look at the upgraded operations. READ MORE.

5) Saw and guide lubrication considerations

In this article from CFI’s annual File Week, Supersaul Chemmex shares what saw filers should consider when it comes to saw guide lubrication. READ MORE.

4) COVID-19 and beyond: Global Softwood Log and Lumber Conference 2020 takeaways

While COVID-19 has created huge challenges for all players around the world, additional supply/demand shocks have affected the global softwood industry this year. Mid- to long-term factors have included trade disputes, domestic industry policies, log cost issues, and climatic events such as fires and insect outbreaks. Here are some of the major dynamics and outlooks from the 2020 Global Softwood Log and Lumber Conference. READ MORE.

3) Logger life: BC log hauler Tiara Seitz paves the way for women in the industry

Tiara Seitz has been a log hauler for over 20 years now, and says she loves what she does. But her start in the business wasn’t a traditional one. In fact, she “kind of stumbled into it,” she says. The owner of Woodrow Trucking in Lower Nicola, B.C., Seitz shares her experience entering a male-dominated industry at the time and how the industry has evolved over the years. READ MORE.

2) ‘Against the grain’: San Group looks to cut new industry path on Vancouver Island

As the B.C. lumber industry closed out a dismal 2019, punctuated by holiday shutdowns, shift reductions and shuttered mills, a Langley, B.C.-based company rooted in remanufacturing finished the year with optimism. Adding shifts and expanding its portfolio, in the spring of this year, San Group was in the midst of a $100-million project to reinvigorate the City of Port Alberni as a major player in the Canadian lumber industry. READ MORE.

1) Introducing CFI’s eighth annual Top 10 Under 40

The future for Canada’s forestry sector is bright, judging by this year’s winners of the Top 10 Under 40 competition from Canadian Forest Industries. We scoured nominations from across the country in all sectors, including logging, sawmilling, equipment and technology suppliers and associated industries. The result is a list of high-performing professionals who are well-equipped to lead the industry in the decades to come. READ MORE.