The future of Canada’s forest industry hinges on innovation

Derek Nighbor is CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada.

Not everyone thinks of innovation when they think of Canada’s forest products companies. But the federal government has fully recognized that the future of the forestry industry and its 230,000 workers depends on the success of its continuing commitment to innovation and sustainable development in every area of the forestry business.

The importance of this transformation was underscored by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr in Ottawa’s response to the new round of U.S. tariffs against Canadian softwood-lumber imports. Earlier this month, Mr. Carr announced the federal government would provide $867-million in funds to help the forestry industry in the wake of the unwarranted U.S. duties aimed at Canada.

In addition to critical support for forestry employees, the government earmarked a large portion of the new funding to support the sector’s wide-ranging, transformative commitment to overhaul its operations for long-term, sustainable growth. While Mr. Carr’s support package was primarily intended to assist softwood-lumber producers, funding for investments that will help all forestry products companies pursue modern, research-based operations and new markets will be available across the sector.

The importance of this support cannot be overstated. Canada is steward to 10 per cent of the world’s forests, and by embracing strong environmental standards and committing to continuous improvement, Canada’s forestry sector is recognized around the world as an environmental leader.

The sector is investing in world-leading forest management practices, introducing new technologies in its mills and plants and focusing on growing global markets.

In this transformation, a wide range of new uses are being discovered for wood fibre – everything from clothing to car parts, from cosmetics to chemicals to advanced construction systems. For example, an 18-storey student residence built from wood recently…

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