Canadian Geographic
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Future of forestry

Canadian perspective


Forests represent the majority of biomass on Earth. In Canada, biomass is the largest non-hydro renewable electricity-generation source — 11/2 times the amount of wind, solar and tidal energy combined.

There are now significant opportunities for the Canadian forest-products industry. Newly developed technologies can transform wood fibre into liquid form, which can then be used to produce a variety of high-value environmentally friendly products, such as:

  • biofuels for home heating and to power vehicles
  • biochemicals to produce cosmetics, solvents, food additives and renewable plastics
  • biomaterials such as “intelligent” paper and engineered wood products

The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has studied these emerging opportunities and outlined a compelling vision for the industry.

Experts from a range of fields and backgrounds have found that when integrated, rather than operating independently, both the traditional forest industry and emerging bioindustries enjoy higher economic returns — and greater stability through product diversification. Through the FPAC-commissioned Future Bio-pathways Project, they discovered that the lumber industry is the cornerstone to the competitiveness of both the traditional and emerging forest-products sectors, while the pulp-and-paper industry has stronger financial potential by integrating bioproducts into traditional mills. Researchers also found that integration offers the best employment scenario, providing five times as many jobs as stand-alone bio-operations.

This transformation requires a new business model as well as the adoption or creation of new technologies. Partnerships with promising bioeconomy firms can secure the know-how needed to advance new manufacturing processes to efficiently extract the maximum from each harvested tree. Governments can encourage these investments in value-added, knowledge-intensive jobs and, in doing so, help keep many rural communities viable and provide an alternative and renewable source of clean energy.

The industry appears well on the way to reinventing itself: nearly 60 percent of the Canadian pulp-and-paper sector’s energy consumption comes from biomass, including spent pulping liquor, wood waste and other sources, demonstrating the sector’s high level of self-sufficiency.

Synopsis

This piece features a bar graph that highlights the impact of integrating traditional industry with emerging technologies, as well as the impact of government policy on the bio-industries’ performance.



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Quiz :

The bio-transformation of the industry involves exploring the creation of new products using wood fibre, including?

Turning wood-fibre into kindling
Turning wood fibre into bio-fuel
Turning wood fibre into sawdust