ONTARIO’S GOVERNMENT PROMOTES FOREST BY-PRODUCTS TO GENERATE JOBS AND CLEAN ENERGY

ONTARIO’S GOVERNMENT PROMOTES FOREST BY-PRODUCTS TO GENERATE JOBS AND CLEAN ENERGY

Posted on April 12, 2022

A five-year plan to strengthen Ontario’s forest industry by expanding biomass projects that turn waste wood into energy and other useful projects has been announced by the provincial government. The Forest Biomass Action Plan (FBAP) is designed to open new markets, increase demand for bioenergy, and support Indigenous involvement in the biomass industry.

The FBAP highlights the use of materials leftover from logging, such as bark, wood shavings, and sawdust produced by sawmills. The plan also includes what the Ontario government calls “biofiber”: parts such as treetops and branches that aren’t normally turned into forest products.

Jason Koivisto, manager of forestry innovation and market development at the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, notes that “Sometimes there are resources that don’t have a commercial value to industry that, if left on the site, create a challenge for getting really good [forest] renewal.”

“The hope is that we diversify and grow the industry,” Koivisto added. “Some of it will be new companies coming in, some will be other industries [that] need to address their own carbon footprint and are looking for solutions to help them bridge to that net-zero future.”

Ian Dunn from the Ontario Forest Industries Association said having markets for forest biomass prevents waste products from going to the landfill. “In the absence of a market for that material, [mills] would have to create and operate landfills on-site or use municipal landfills. It’s really important for biomass facilities to be out there on the landscape to act as a market for that material.”

Currently, in northern Ontario, there are five biomass generating stations powered by material from sawmills and panel mills. In parallel with the action plan, the province is extending the energy contracts for these stations.

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