Forestry sector continues to grow

If you’re searching for a bright spot in Alberta’s gloomy economy, try the province’s forestry sector.

If you’re searching for a bright spot in Alberta’s gloomy economy, try the province’s forestry sector.

Member companies of the Alberta Forest Products Association continue to enjoy strong growth, thanks in large part to the resurgent North American housing market and demand for forestry products in Asia.

The association said on Monday that growth in Alberta’s forest industry during the first three quarters of 2014 averaged seven per cent. That followed growth rates of nine and 14 per cent respectively in 2012 and 2013.

“Although the torrid pace of growth has begun to slow somewhat, 2014 has still been an exceptional year for Alberta’s forest industry,” said AFPA president and CEO Paul Whittaker.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2014, the value of production for association members was up $26 million, or 3.9 per cent, from the same period in 2013.

“Four per cent growth for our industry means more investment into communities, stable jobs for Albertans, and an important source of economic diversity for Alberta,” said Whittaker.

AFPA said in a release that the improved conditions have led to capital investments in the industry, with approximately $1.5 billion spent on upgrades between 2011 and 2015.

In the third quarter of 2014, AFPA member companies generated lumber sales of $342.3 million, with this figure including the secondary manufacturing sector. That represented an 18 per cent improvement over the $290.2 million in lumber sales during the same period in 2013.

In the case of panelboard, sales reached $85.2 million in the third quarter, up two per cent from $83.5 million during the same three months in 2013.

Pulp and paper was the one sector to drop in the third quarter, with sales of $268.2 million down nearly 16 per cent from $296.1 million a year ago.

The Alberta Forest Products Association is a on-profit industry organization that represents lumber, panelboard, pulp and paper, and secondary manufacturing companies operating in Alberta.

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