Forest news good, bad

The first quarter of 2011 brought mixed results for companies active in Alberta’s forestry sector.

The first quarter of 2011 brought mixed results for companies active in Alberta’s forestry sector.

The Alberta Forest Products Association reported on Thursday that shipments of lumber, panelboard, pulp and paper from its member companies during the first three months of this year were worth $576 million. That’s a 6.7 per cent improvement over the same period in 2010, but down 0.6 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2010.

“It’s a bit of a good news, bad news story,” said Brady Whittaker, AFPA’s president and CEO. “On the pulp side, prices have been relatively steady, and that has helped to stabilize the industry.

“While lumber is stronger than it was at this time last year, we are in a downward trend right now.”

Whittaker said the decline in lumber product shipments probably reflects a softening of the market.

“The bottom line is that the American building market hasn’t picked up. We had managed to offset that with gains in the Asian market, but that market has backed off in recent months as well.”

On a sector-by-sector basis, shipments of lumber from Alberta (including from manufacturing companies) in the first quarter were worth $192.2 million; panelboard shipments valued at $69.5 million, and pulp and paper at $314.3 million.