British Columbia has extended a controversial order allowing timber firms to export raw logs from the north-western area of the province.

The provincial government has lengthened the original three-year order, which allows up to 35% of timber logged in the region to be exported overseas, for another two years.

The policy, which was unsuccessfully challenged in the courts earlier this year, has been criticised for costing mill jobs and helping the timber industry’s foreign competitors.

But government figures show the industry has been exporting an average of only 15% of the annual timber harvest, some 180,000m3 per year. Rising export fees imposed by the province have been blamed for the downward trend in log shipments.