BC is facing a declining timber supply, closure of primary and secondary wood product mills, economic impacts to rural communities and forest sector job losses. The future of the BC wood products sector is in the creation of regional clusters where the available fibre is fully utilized and directed to the highest value products. The overall goal of fully utilizing available fibre to the highest value is one of the Government’s goals. However, there is no clarity as to how to achieve this. Clusters are an appropriate model and would have additional benefits such as increasing community diversification, moving toward full utilization of wood fibre, creating jobs, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing provincial and local Government revenues.
The cluster concept is not new. There is a school in Austria who, more than two decades ago, developed a program to educate industry on how to create a cluster. Clusters exist in Canada (e.g., window production in Manitoba, automotive assembly in Ontario). In effect, BC has used the concept in the primary commodity products sector as outlined in https://www.bcforestconversation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Building-through-clusters-1.pdf. Now Government needs to create the investment and policy climate that will expand on what exists.
Industry cluster definition – An industry cluster is a group of firms and institutions located in close proximity whose businesses are interlinked through value and supply chains, labor, and use of similar inputs, technology, and complementary products. Reference: The status of and opportunities for business clustering within the forest products sector in the US, US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, 2009, 27p.