For more than 200 years, Ontario’s forest product industries have been constantly renewing themselves in response to cyclical challenges and changing needs of the market. Companies large and small are developing and delivering an ever-growing number of remarkable new value-added products. Industry, governments, academic institutions and communities are working together to create a healthy future for forestry in Ontario. We are striving to help build a strong, regionally-based forest industry, comprised of large, efficient, and competitive commodity-based facilities and smaller, more diverse and specialized value-added businesses, which strengthen and support the prosperity of 260 communities across Ontario.
A Strong Future Outlook
By 2025, we plan for Ontario to be home of a transformed, globally competitive and market driven forest industry that creates diverse wood and bioproducts and is a cornerstone of the province’s green economy.
The ever-changing forest industry has a promising future, according to government, industry, and institutional experts. There is a strong future outlook for lumber, with sawmills as the cornerstone of the forest products sector producing lumber and by-products upon which the pulp and paper, value-added wood products and emerging bioenergy segments depend.
Pulp and paper mills will transform into biorefineries, i.e., act as chemical refiners creating fuels, other forms of energy, pulp, and chemicals (including petrochemical substitutes). The production of pellets and cogeneration of heat and electrical power is the first phase in the development of bioenergy production.
Emerging technologies are being developed and promoted by parties outside the traditional forestry sector. In Ontario, which has the second most advanced chemical supply chain in North America, there is a potential to move up the value chain into the thriving plastics, material, auto parts, pharmaceutical and energy sectors.
Green Economy and the Forest Sector
We are accelerating the forest sector’s role in transitioning Ontario to a green economy by:
- Encouraging the production of diverse wood and fibre-based bioproducts;
- Leveraging financial support from the federal government and others for innovation, research and development, and transition in the forest products sector;
- Modernizing the forest tenure and pricing system;
- Taking socio-economic analyses into consideration when developing policies that could impact the forest sector;
- Addressing electricity costs and advancing green energy solutions for the forest sector;
- Building forest sector research and training capacity in our post secondary institutions; and
- Making wood available in order to attract new investments in new and innovative ventures to stimulate Ontario’s forest economy.
As part of Ontario’s efforts to help transform our forest sector, the province established the Centre for Research & Innovation in the Bio-economy (CRIBE) in 2009 to support the creation of new jobs and businesses in the bioeconomy sector from Ontario’s forest resources. CRIBE seeks out partnerships with entrepreneurs, research organizations and industry with the specific purpose of turning existing research and ideas into a commercial reality.
And in 2011 the government concluded the single largest wood supply competition in the history of Ontario in order to attract new investment in the forest sector and support new and innovative ventures, many of which are in the emerging bioproducts sector. There were 41 successful proposals representing a total of 5.2 million m3 of unused wood supply approved under the competition. Over 70% of the total volume went to the bio-products sector, such as biofuels, energy and pellets.
Since 2007 the MNR has worked closely with FP Innovations, through the Northern Ontario Value Added (NOVA) initiative, to support entrepreneurs interested in creating value-added products from our wood resources. NOVA’s team of industrial advisors provide new and existing companies with technical support and marketing intelligence so that they are better able meet the needs of the future wood products market.
Ontario also has a long history of using our hardwood resources to produce a wide array of products, including furniture. In recent years, this sector has faced similar challenges to those of the rest of Ontario wood product sector, so the government has partnered with the industry to support the establishment of an industry cluster focused in southwestern Ontario, the Bluewater Wood Alliance (BWA). The members of the BWA manufacture fine quality home, small office and institutional furniture, flooring, cabinets and millwork in Ontario for sale across Canada and around the world. Members of the BWA are able to work together on joint projects in skills development, technology transfer, and export development and experience exchanges in a bottom-up driven association, with the ultimate goal of helping the industry remain competitive well into the future.