Canada: In the wake of the devastating U.S. duties, the future of the forest industry rests on innovation

According to Derek Nighbor, CEO of the Forest products Association of Canada, when thinking of Canada’s forest products companies, innovation is certainly not one of the first to come into mind. But the Canadian Government has recognised just that: The future of the industry, and its 230,000 workers, is reliant on the success of its continuing commitment to innovation and sustainable development in every nook and cranny of the forestry sector.

But the importance of innovation was highlighted by the Honourable Jim Carr, the Minister of Natural Resources. In early June, Carr had announced that the Canadian Government would be offering CAD$867 million (US$655 million) in funds to assist the forestry industry in the crushing aftermath of the U.S. duties imposed on Canada.

On top of giving adversely affected forestry employees some much-needed support, the government has set aside a large part of the funds to completely revamp the industry for long-term, sustainable growth. While designated to help softwood-lumber producers for the most part, the investment will give all forestry products companies some aid in their pursuit of modern, research-based operations, that have the potential to open new markets across the industry in the future.

Canada is home to a tenth of the world’s forests, and by not shying away from stringent environmental standards while always looking for new ways to improve, the forest industry is widely regarded as one of the world’s environmental leaders, and one of the main drivers behind Canada’s green economy.

By investing in leading forest management practices, bringing in new technologies for its mills and plants, and turning its focus to the booming global markets for lumber, the Canadian Government has uncovered a large spectrum of uses for wood fibre, and new markets by extension, ranging from textiles to cosmetics and everything in between.

Moreover, as one of Canada’s largest industries and employers, with an estimated 200 northern and rural communities depending on it, the forest products industry is well aware of the high stakes involved in forging a new, forward-looking model based on innovation.

But adapting to the ever-changing world economy and unpredictable environmental situation is not an easy task, and the federal government’s investment is not only critical to bolstering the Canadian economy, but a morale-booster as well, showing their trust and confidence in forestry producer’s abilities to realise their full potential in innovation and sustainable development.


Source: The Globe and Mail