Timber supply is dwindling and the forestry industry needs to diversify.
Nick Arkle, CEO of the Gorman Group, says it’s largely environmental factors like the mountain pine beetle that has caused the current shortage of harvestable timber in B.C.
While the industry rushed to salvage log large tracts of timber, that supply of beetle-kill has dried up.
"Catastrophic fires" are also having a larger impact than ever before, Arkle told delegates to the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention in Vernon, Wednesday.
The industry is also running up against protests from the public, which he says is putting “downward pressure on that timber supply."
Blockades of logging roads are becoming more common, Arkle said, explaining foresters need to work with the public to create trust. He says his company has spoken with protesters to gather feedback.
All of this means there will be a continued reduction in how much timber will be harvested in B.C., which will force mill closures.
Arkle says while the industry is on the verge of a drop, it’s not all doom and gloom. The solution is to diversify the lumber produced.
The provincial government has been trying to promote doing more with less, and higher value. Something Arkle believes the Gorman Group has a good handle on.
They’re aiming for less volume but more complexity and higher value.
“We don't mind the cost and expense of doing that and investing in the equipment to do that as long as we're extracting that value at the other end.”
The Gorman Group of Companies—made up of Gorman Bros Lumber, Downie Timber & Selkirk Cedar, Canoe FP, Oroville Reman & Reload and Gorman Pole—has remained comparatively resilient amid the industry downturn by outputting products that go beyond the typical 2x4.
The lower grade products are still in high demand and always will be, Arkle said, noting all products are necessary for the continued success of the forestry industry.