B.C. forest industry resilient: West Fraser CEO

West Fraser CEO and President reflects on National Forest Week

When some people think about British Columbia’s forest industry, they think about the trees that we cut rather than the trees that we grow.

The truth is that we grow a lot of trees in British Columbia’s forests – for every tree we harvest we plant two or three more in its place. The forestry sector is one of the earths most sustainable and renewable natural resources industries and is vital to the B.C. economy.

Our industry employs, directly and indirectly, approximately 145,000 people in British Columbia and we account for one-third (36 per cent) of B.C. exports.

West Fraser directly employs 3,000 people in 12 mills throughout eight communities in B.C. In our 60-plus year history of operating in B.C., we are proud to be embedded in the towns where we operate.

West Fraser has invested more than $500 million in our B.C. operations in the last five years. Our investments in modern manufacturing facilities, product innovation and bioenergy support our operations’ long-term competitiveness, in spite of the challenges our industry faces.

Industry challenges such as the B.C. wildfires this summer, the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the Softwood lumber dispute are issues we do our best to prepare for, and we remain optimistic about the future of our industry.

West Fraser continues to provide stable employment by investing for the long-term in our mills and communities. In turn, our mill communities sustain us by providing contractor services for our business and community resources for our employees and their families.

The communities that support us are a key reason for our success, and it’s our duty to ensure we maintain healthy forests and a strong balance sheet for the livelihoods of our employees, their families, community businesses, and the overall economy of B.C.

Forest communities in the interior of B.C. have been through one of the most difficult summers in history, with wildfires scorching the surrounding areas.

We are so thankful for the support and resources from government authorities, emergency services and community members. Our employees worked in countless ways to help our mills and communities through a very difficult time.

Whether it was fighting fires with the local fire department, setting up sprinklers around our mills, creating fireguards or generously opening up their homes for evacuees, I am so very proud of our employees. During this experience, it was quite evident that when we all work together to protect our towns and our livelihoods, we can accomplish great things.

National Forest Week is a time for those of us in the industry to rejoice in the fact that we proudly work in a sustainable, renewable, natural resource sector.

Even after severe wildfires, forests will naturally regenerate. When we harvest mature, sometimes beetle-killed trees, we can plant young, healthy trees in their place. I know that the people I work with take great pride in how we manage our forests and support our communities. All British Columbians should be too.

– by Ted Seraphim, President and CEO of West Fraser

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