It’s not just beef, bitumen and buildings in Alberta—the forestry sector is the lifeblood of several communities in the northern and western regions of our province. And after rumours of its death proved to be greatly exaggerated, the forestry sector in Alberta has come roaring back.
In the fourth quarter of last year, shipments of lumber, panelboard and pulp and paper in Alberta totalled some $602 million. That’s an increase of 24 per cent from the same three-month period a year earlier. It’s also down just slightly from the third quarter of last year, a quarter which saw the greatest value of shipments from this province since before the 2008 downturn.
For the year as a whole, shipments amounted to some $2.3 billion for 2012, up 9 per cent from 2011.
For years, Canadian forestry producers have been hit by a stream of bad news. A strong Canadian dollar, trade disputes with the Americans over softwood lumber, mountain pine beetles and forest fires were unrelenting challenges for the industry, reducing production and profitability. It also resulted in a good deal of downsizing and closing older, less efficient mills. But in 2012, prices for lumber and panelboard in North America started to rise, lifted by the slow-butsteady recovery in U.S. homebuilding.
"Our industry has seen sustained growth in production and revenues this year," said the Alberta
Forest Products Association President and CEO Brady Whittaker in a news release. “The economics have been positive and that has allowed for further investment in our facilities, forest management and communities.”*
*Courtesy of Todd Hirsch, Senior Economist, ATB Financial