Canadian Geographic
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Future of forestry

Global outlook


Since the discovery of the practical uses of fire, biomass has been used as a source of energy. In terms of renewable energy, biomass refers to biological material from wood, waste, landfill gas, alcohol fuels and plants grown specifically to generate electricity or produce heat. It provides a wide range of products, from food and energy to building materials, paper, fabrics, medicines and chemicals.

Countries around the world are beginning to realize the potential of the new bioeconomy, in which renewable, clean energy will play a leading role. The United States, China and leading European nations have begun to switch their energy focus and invest in the future economy because of their concerns about rising oil prices, energy security, climate change and the drive to generate knowledge-intensive jobs. They are retooling their economies to secure technology expertise, create employment, attract investments and capture fast-growing markets for more environmentally friendly products.

From biofuels in Brazil to biomass energy in the European Union, governments the world over are establishing policies, providing financial incentives and luring investors keen on benefiting from this opportunity. Between 2005 and 2009, the greatest investment in biomass energy has come from the European Union. China’s portion of investment was 23 percent, followed by the United States, with 10 percent. Canada’s investment has been minimal during this period — only 2 percent.

And yet Canada is an environmental leader in several other areas. It has a very low rate of deforestation, at 0.02 percent per year, due to clearing land for uses such as agriculture and building communities. It boasts more original forest, protected forest and third-party-certified forest than any other country and has created some of the world’s toughest forestry regulations, with an industry that replants trees at the rate of over 600 million seedlings per year.

By focusing its efforts, Canada can play an important role in this new bioeconomy and benefit by using its creativity and ingenuity to get the most out of its natural resources.

Synopsis

This piece features a pie chart and matrix that address both global biomass energy investments, as well as the realities of corruption and illegalities in the forest-products industry.



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Quiz :

In Canada, what is the largest non-hydro renewable electricity generation source?

Biomass
Wind energy
Solar energy