Tensions over time: A primer on the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute

May 9, 2017
Under this system, the price to harvest the resource (also known as a stumpage fees) is set by law and administrative regulations, rather than privately or by market competition. The United States complains that stumpage fees are too low. However, the wood is used in many different industries, which means these low rates don’t technically qualify as a government subsidy, according to the World Trade Organization.

Harry Nelson, assistant professor in UBC’s department of forest-resources management, said Canada’s timber industry tends to operate on more of a long-term basis.

“We have slower growing trees over a longer time frame where we are trying to meet multiple objectives,” he said.

Read the full article from The Globe and Mail.

A Lumbering Trade Dispute

May 8, 2017

Canadians have been hearing about the trade dispute over softwood lumber for decades. And it made a big comeback this year, thanks to the new U.S. president’s decision to slap tariffs on Canadian timber. The Agenda welcomes Harry Nelson, professor in the faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, to discuss why this has been such sore spot in relations with Canada’s largest trading partner for so long?

Watch the video from TVOntario.

How Donald Trump became a key figure in the B.C. provincial election campaign

May 2, 2017

UBC forestry policy expert Harry Nelson said because B.C. accounts for a significant portion of the country’s forestry industry, the future premier will have sway over what stance Canada takes against the U.S. but not in talks south of the border.

“Directly speaking, [the future premier] has no direct bearing in terms of influencing the tenor of the discussions that take place in Washington.”

Read the full article from CBC News.

Trudeau confident Canada will work through US softwood lumber tariffs

April 25, 2017
Forestry is easily one of BC’s most important industries and those levies will have a major impact one way or another.

“Forestry has really consistently been a sustained source of wealth for a lot of Canadians and for the province,” explains Harry Nelson with UBC’s Faculty of Forestry. “It can hit all those bottom lines, be environmentally-sustainable, and contribute towards more environmentally-friendly, lower-carbon lifestyles.”

But he says none of this is a surprise, adding the two countries have bickered over softwood lumber for decades.

Read the full article from News 1130.

Is history repeating itself in the softwood lumber dispute?

April 25, 2017

According to Harry Nelson, an economist in the University of British Columbia’s forestry faculty, the softwood dispute refuses to die for two main reasons. First, most Canadian lumber is sawn from trees felled on Crown land, whereas most U.S. commercial logging is in privately controlled forests. Americans tend to assume Canadian governments are bound to set royalties for trees cut on public land so low as to amount to an unfair subsidy. “That provides fertile ground where [the U.S. lumber industry] can sow these seeds of doubt,” Nelson says.

Read the full article from Macleans.

The big issues that could be on the Trump – Trudeau agenda

February 10, 2017
It’s hard to imagine Trump unleashing a late-night tweetstorm about softwood lumber. What’s he going to write? “Canada’s wood deal with us is rotten. Make America chop again. Timber!!”

Still, there is big money at play, and America could hit Canadians with a 32 per cent export duty, as the U.S. Department of Commerce did in 1996. That measure cost Canadian companies billions.

“U.S. lumber groups have pursued this with the idea that if we restrict Canadian imports into the U.S., that’ll help boost the price of lumber,” says Harry Nelson, an assistant professor in the department of forest resources management at the University of British Columbia.

Read the full article from Macleans.

Two ways to settle the latest Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute

November 9, 2016

The standstill agreement on softwood lumber trade expired recently, leaving Canadians holding their breath for the U.S. Lumber Coalition to launch legal proceedings.

In the calm before the storm of the next Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute, speculation about how the issue will unfold has crystallized around two options: a tax or a quota. The differences may appear merely technical, but they would mean vastly different things economically.

While a quota would impose a cap on exports to the United States, a tax would allow the level of exports to fluctuate with U.S. consumers’ willingness to pay for Canadian lumber. In other words, as U.S. lumber prices increase, Canadian lumber would still be able to enter the U.S. market to meet demand.

Read the full article from The Globe and Mail.

BC mills could see layoffs if the US imposes softwood duties

October 12, 2016
We’re hearing our country will continue to negotiate with the US on a new softwood lumber deal, as the one-year standstill agreement comes to an end. The big question is — will this situation lead to job losses at mills in this province?

Assistant Professor Harry Nelson with UBC’s Department of Forest Resources Management says it’s a possibility if the US imposes duties.

Read the full article from News 1130.

“Competition and investment in the B.C. coastal forest industry

Summer 2016
Investment in the BC forest sector has fallen sharply in recent years, most visibly in wood product manufacturing. The decline has raised concerns about the future of the industry, particularly on the BC coast where contractors are struggling to earn a competitive return and manufacturing capacity has shrunk significantly.

What is hampering investment on BC’s coast? The forests remain standing on some of the most productive lands in the country, communities with a long history of forestry have not gone away and forest products are still in demand. But a successful forest industry requires more than just trees and demand for wood products: it needs competitive businesses.

From an economic perspective, the marketplace is an obvious area to begin looking for answers to the investment question. Competition, a critical element of a functioning market, works
like natural selection: weaker businesses are removed from the industry while the strong ones survive.

Read the full article from Truck Logger BC Magazine.

Opinion: Canadian forestry sector needs rebuilding

March 10, 2016
The Canadian forest industry is on the verge of another watershed moment. The Softwood Lumber Agreement has lapsed, while efforts are underway to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, creating both opportunities to take advantage of new markets and growing fears about future trade actions from the United States, its largest trade partner. The weak Canadian dollar and rebound in the U.S. economy has raised the stakes for Canadian lumber producers looking to sell their products to American buyers.

Rumours are rampant about whether a new agreement can be reached and, if so, what it might entail. While the Canadian government favours free trade, a tax on forest products entering the U.S. or a quota that limits the total amount of cross-border trade are seemingly more likely outcomes given how the dispute has played out in the past.

Each of these options could influence major shifts in the B.C. forest industry, where consolidation has hollowed out the middle class and led a few companies to control a large proportion of the forest resource.

Read the full article from the Vancouver Sun.

Business in Vancouver: Divisive B.C. log export issue could resurface in new softwood deal

October 15, 2015
Japan did not succeed in getting B.C. log export restrictions relaxed during the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, but the issue could resurface if and when Canada and the United States sit down to renegotiate the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

“It has played a role in the past and it could come up again,” said Harry Nelson, a forestry professor at the University of British Columbia. “It could be the case that any deal cut with the U.S. might have to include other [TPP] countries as well.”

Read the full article from Business in Vancouver.

iPolitics: Forestry industry welcomes TPP

October 7, 2015
A Vancouver-based trade association of forest companies in the British Columbia interior says it “sees opportunity” in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

“We’re particularly encouraged by Japan’s willingness to gradually eliminate tariffs on forest products imports,” Susan Yurkovich, president and chief executive officer of the Council of Forest Industries, said in a statement. “We have long and productive relationships in the Japanese market, and we believe the TPP will only strengthen those relationships.”

“My takeaway is that it’s generally viewed as a good news story for forestry,” said Harry Nelson, who teaches forest policy and economics.

He says that’s because the sector is “so export-dependent, and the view is [it’s] better to be on the inside rather than on the outside looking in.”

Read the full article from iPolitics.

UBC Forestry to host Western Forest Economists 50th Meeting

June 1-2, 2015
This year marks the first year that the Western Forest Economists will host their annual meeting in Canada and the first time that the meeting will be hosted in conjunction with the International Society of Forest Resource Economists. As President of the Western Forest Economists, Dr. Harry Nelson and the UBC Faculty of Forestry will be hosting the event.

For information and to register, visit the Western Forest Economists website.

BC Forest Professional Magazine: Informing Forest Management Policy, Practice and Professionals in BC: Results from the ABCFP Survey on Barriers to Adaptation

May 1, 2015
A study released in January by Kamloops Physicians for a Healthy Environment pointed to smoke from woodwaste burning as the culprit for typically poor air-quality numbers in November.

However, what the forest industry has considered waste for decades has ecological and economic value — if someone can just figure out how to make it pay.

Harry Nelson, an assistant professor in the University of B.C.’s forestry faculty, said in an email message the value of woodwaste depends on where it is found.

Read the full article from Kamloops This Week.

Presentation on Climate Futures in Forest Management at ANZIF 2015

April 14, 2015
Dr. Harry Nelson presented the results of his research about translating climate futures into forest management guidance at the Australia New Zealand Institute of Foresters (ANZIF) Conference, held from April 13-15, 2015 in Creswick, Victoria.

Read the full conference program on the ANZIF 2015 conference website.

BC Forest Professional Magazine: Informing Forest Management Policy, Practice and Professionals in BC: Results from the ABCFP Survey on Barriers to Adaptation

November 2014
BC Forest Professional Magaizine Nov/Dec 2015 cover
Forest professionals play a key role in the management of forests in British Columbia and a changing climate with increasingly variable weather patterns adds a new dimension to their practice. Not only are professionals observing firsthand what’s happening in those forests but they’re also at the forefront of planning and implementing forestry activities, designing strategies and plans to achieve forest management goals, and tackling on-the-ground issues.

Read the full article from ABCFP Magazine.

Financial Post: The granddaddy of all Canadian-U.S. trade disputes is about to rear its ugly head again

October 31, 2014

A recent dispute over “country of origin labelling” for meat products underscores the fact that Canada and the U.S. still have their share of trade disputes.

“As soon as you tell Americans that our industry takes place on government land, they think there’s something going on,” said Harry Nelson, an assistant professor in the department of forest resources management at the University of British Columbia.

Read the full article from the The Financial Post.

Vancouver Sun: Opinion: Volume vs. area – Why the two types of forest tenures matter to B.C.

May 27, 2014

In an attempt to help the forest industry get back on its feet in the wake of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is proposing to change how it deals out rights to cut down trees by shifting from primarily “volume-based” to “area-based” allotments.

At a glance, this change may seem like a small matter of semantics. It’s not. The final decision will have important implications not just for B.C.’s forests but also for the jobs and revenues that depend on them.

Read the full article from the Vancouver Sun.

BC Business: Speakers at last week’s Truck Loggers Association conference cited aging infrastructure and succession challenges among challenges B.C’s forest industry must come to terms with

January 20, 2014

Harry Nelson The infrastructure of B.C.’s forest industry faces many challenges, including aging machinery and workforce, and unrealistic rate structures. That’s the message of a report by UBC professor Harry Nelson entitled “Tired Iron: The State of the Harvesting Sector on the B.C. Coast.” Nelson was on hand at the annual Truck Loggers Association convention in Vancouver last week to elaborate on challenges faced by the province’s forest industry.

Read the full article from BC Business.

The Globe and Mail: Failure to add value to resource wealth chains Canada to its colonial past

December 3, 2013

Canada, a country founded on its natural resources, possesses more natural wealth, per capita, than any other any other nation in the world. Our natural resources sustained our First Nations and catalyzed settlement, from east to west.

While Canada has changed considerably since its early days, natural resources still drive our economy. Yet, some suggest that by providing raw resources to the global economy, Canadians are pursuing lower-value, less-innovative and less-sophisticated activities, and that we should be shifting toward a more modern, knowledge-based economy.

Read the full article from The Globe and Mail.

Adding it all up: Balancing benefits and effects of resource development

November 12, 2012
Bulkley Valley Research Centre, Smithers, BC

Presentation: Managing Variability for Resiliency:  constructing sustainable development 

A collaborative approach to translating climate change scenarios into forest management adaptation strategies

Tuesday, January 17, 2012th
12:30-1:30 PM
CAWP Classroom

All are welcome! Coffee and cookies will be served – please bring your own mug.

A suite of models can be used in a collaborative approach to identify and select adaptation strategies, drawing on two examples from the BC Interior. These models are designed to take into account forest conditions, ecosystem process, and associated management objectives; the collaborative approach then involves working with local decision-makers, practitioners, and stakeholders to tailor to those local conditions and values. This approach can then be used in carrying out vulnerability assessments, to explore adaptation strategies, and provide guidance on strategic options at the forest estate level. The approach explicitly recognizes the high degree of uncertainty created by climate change in a highly diverse and dynamic landscape, and gives both researchers and managers a platform for the evolution of learning and how to implement proactive adaptive management under climate change.


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