Forestry in for a rough ride

The woes experienced by the Alberta forestry industry last year have spilled into 2009 and grown worse.

The woes experienced by the Alberta forestry industry last year have spilled into 2009 and grown worse.

The Alberta Forest Products Association reported on Wednesday that shipments of lumber, panelboard, pulp and paper manufactured by its members during the first quarter were all down from the same period in 2008.

In the cases of lumber and panelboard, the declines were almost 13 per cent and 10.5 per cent respectively. The value of those shipments fell almost 18 per cent for lumber and more than four per cent in the case of panelboard.

The association said in a news release that the industry was being hit hard by the economic downturn in the United States and abroad.

“The rough ride continues for Alberta producers,” said AFPA president and CEO Brady Whittaker. “Continuing market weakness is affecting all our members, their employees and the local communities. We are seeing continued curtailments and downtime in provincial mills in response.”

Forestry is Alberta’s third-largest manufacturing industry and second largest manufacturing export industry. It employs about 44,000 people, mostly in smaller communities.

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