Some call it an “industry in transition,” others have said it is an industry “under the gun,” but the forestry sector is finding new life in innovative and creative solutions that are not only helping the once struggling industry turn around, but also helping to usher in what the Edmonton Journal calls a “green breeze.”
After two years of work by the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), FPInnovations and the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) of Natural Resources Canada, a new program called the Bio-pathways Project will be set into motion this year and will aim to revitalize the Canadian forestry sector.
The project looks outside of traditional uses for wood, lumber, pulp and paper in an effort to create new jobs, new sectors and a more sustainable future for the country and its citizens.
Over the last two years, experts have examined “an array of biotechnologies and bioproducts…to see which have the most to offer the forest industry and forest-depending communities,” says the Natural Resources Canada website.
Among other findings, initial reports say that “the forest industry must turn out a range of bioproducts” and focus on “full diversification – that is, a mix of products of low, medium and high value” in order to help transform the industry here in Canada.
“This is a national initiative to get the message out, to talk about the next generation of forestry, a green ‘sunrise’ industry that can compete for new markets,” said Catherine Cobden, the FPAC’s vice-president of economics and regulatory affairs.
That diversity is the very reason behind the Bio-pathways Project: to look at the plethora of ways the forestry industry can be contributing to new, innovative products.
Some of these products could include bio-active paper – paper towels than can indicate contamination; nanocrystalline cellulose composites that can replace materials in aircraft; wood-based textiles (such as rayon); and cross-laminated timber – a technology that produces strong beams and panels for construction products, according to an article published in the Edmonton Journal.
Add to this the numerous possibilities of biomass energy, and the slumping forestry industry could not only be finding its foothold again, but could also be contributing to economic, social, and environmental growth.
“We need government help to get this new technology out to the industry. There is real commercial potential here for the Canadian forestry industry,” Cobden said. “We are a sunrise industry, a cornerstone of the new bio-economy.”