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Logging in British Columbia - statistics & facts

British Columbia, Canada’s third largest province in terms of population, is situated on the west coast and borders the Pacific Ocean. Due to the province’s extensive forest coverage, the business of cutting down trees to produce wood products, or logging, is big in British Columbia. This industry has caught media attention due to an ongoing conflict between protestors and logging companies in the province, specifically on and around Vancouver Island, where old-growth forests are seen to be at risk.

Forestry and British Columbia’s economy

The forestry and logging industry in British Columbia contributed over 13 billion Canadian dollars in GDP to the Canadian economy in 2019. Over 50 percent of this total was produced from operations on Vancouver Island and in the wider Lower Mainland region. In these regions, over 63,000 people were employed in the forestry and logging industry in the same year. A provincial comparison of the number of forestry and logging businesses in Canada displays British Columbia’s large role in the industry: almost 40 percent of all Canadian businesses were in British Columbia, as of December 2020.

What are old-growth forests?

Also known as a primary forest, old-growth forests are forests which have mostly gone undisturbed from human impact since time immemorial. Due to their long, untouched development periods, old forests are structurally complex, contain a large variety of habitats, and are the basis for critical ecological systems. As of April 2020, there was around 13.3 million hectares of old-forest area in British Columbia. Of this, 40,000 hectares fell into the highest productivity class, where trees are expected grow to over 25 meters tall in 50 years. Due to their size, high productivity forests can store large amounts of carbon. Therefore, they play an important role in mitigating climate change.

The political perspective: ecological preservation vs. economic opportunity

Opposition to the logging of old-growth trees is not a new phenomenon. Conflict has, however, recently escalated in British Columbia. Activists have, for example, built up anti-logging blockades on Vancouver Island, where a large share of Canada’s old-growth forest is situated. The B.C. government’s pledge to protect old-growth forests has been put into question as logging permits continue to be approved in ecologically sensitive areas which some believe should have permanent protection. Ecologists worry that if the government’s pledge is not kept, old-growth forests could be completely wiped out in coming years. In the future, it will be down to British Columbia’s ruling governmental party to strike the balance between conserving the province’s historical old-growth forests and the ecosystem services that they provide, while maintaining forestry employment and economic output.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 27 most important statistics relating to "Logging in British Columbia, Canada".


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