The value of Alberta's forestry industry products rose by $150 million (5.0%) in 2015 over the previous year, marking the fourth consecutive year of growth. Diversification and stronger prices for products contributed to this growth. The value of pulp and paper grew by 16.0% in 2015, while the panel sector rose by 7.0%. Lumber production values, however, dropped by 5.0% that year, possibly linked to the decline in demand for new housing.
In response to increasing global demand for renewable energy resources, export sales of wood pellets, made from previous waste material such as sawdust, has grown steadily, climbing from $208 million in 2012 to $285 million in 2015. In another move to capitalize on the interest in biofuels, Canada's first commercial-scale plant to recover lignin, a renewable wood by-product that can replace some petrochemicals, opened in Hinton in 2016.
The Conference Board of Canada, a not-for-profit research organization, estimated that the impact of the Fort McMurray wildfire contributed to a 0.33% drop in this industry's 2016 GDP in Alberta.