Fourth year of growth for Alberta’s forest products industry
By Cindy Macdonald
Economic output by Alberta’s forest sector grew in 2015, marking the fourth consecutive year of increases. The forestry sector saw the value of its products rise by five per cent – or $150 million – last year, following growth of eight per cent in 2014, 14 per cent in 2013, and nine per cent in 2012.
Lumber, pulp and paper, and panelboard manufactured by members of the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) in 2015 was valued at approximately $3 billion. The most significant gains came from pulp and paper, which grew 16 per cent. Panel also had a strong year, with seven per cent growth. Lumber production values declined by five per cent.
“Alberta’s forestry sector is strongly diversified,” says AFPA president and CEO Paul Whittaker. “This is due not only to product and market diversification, but also to investment in new areas. In addition to traditional products, the industry continues to make progress in converting waste streams into green energy and exploring new opportunities in bioproducts.”
Whittaker points to the recent opening of a lignin recovery plant at West Fraser’s Hinton pulp mill as an example of innovation in the industry. “This type of innovation has built a forest industry that will play a critical role in an economically diversified Alberta,” he states.
The AFPA’s pulp and paper sector production for 2015 was 1.6 million air dried metric tonnes (ADMT) valued at $1.4 billion. Production increased 71,500 ADMT (4.8 per cent) from the same period in 2014, and stronger prices caused values to rise by $191 million or 15.7 per cent. AFPA members in the pulp and paper sector include: Alberta Newsprint Company; Hinton Pulp (West Fraser); Millar Western Forest Products; Slave Lake Pulp (West Fraser); Weyerhaeuser Company.