There is  great potential  for new  wood fibre  products  and  growing markets  in non-traditional  product areas says  Derek Nighbor,  CEO of the  Forest Products Association of Canada and  the potential can be realized  with some  support from the  senior levels of Government.

He says  from  bio-energy to taller buildings made of wood,  and even  real  wooden consoles for Lincolns,   there are numerous opportunities.  Nighbor  is outlining  some of those opportunities to a meeting of  Canada’s Ministers of Forests  in  Dawson City, Yukon today.

The whole idea of  forestry innovation aligns  with the Federal Government’s  thinking  on climate change says  Nighbor “Innovation in the forest sector  really does help contribute to the whole issues of climate change.  The intersection of  innovation  and climate change presents a very powerful opportunity   for the Canadian forest product sector.”

But  new products  and  market growth  rely on one factor,  a sustainable  forest.   With  the  recent decimation by  the Mountain Pine beetle,  the  Spruce beetle threat,  and  dry conditions which make  wildfires ravage hundreds of thousands of  hectares of  woodland,   climate change is a  major  concern says Nighbor “What are the impacts of the changing climate in terms of  acess to fibre,  access to quality  fibre?”  He believes the forestry sector has valuable experience to share in terms of what climate  change is doing to the forestry sector “But we also can be part of the solution in terms of some of the  improved  practices in the forest, in terms of  greater efficiencies at the mills, and our ability to deliver, new innovative  environmentally friendly products.”

The Forest Products Association of Canada has committed  to a plan to remove 30 megatonnes of COa year by 2030,  that’s more than 13% of the Federal Government’s  emissions reduction  target.  He says it starts by   focusing on how every  part of a tree can be used  in a value added way “So part of the work in the forest is going to be getting away  from slashing and burning,  it’s finding other uses for every part of that tree.The other opportunity is in genomics in terms of higher yield forests  more  resistant species, those kind  of things.   That’s one part of the contribution. ”  He says the   other part  is  work at the mills where  new efficiencies have reduced greenhouse gas emissions significantly since the early  1990s,  largely because of the elimination of beehive burners and the closure of  some mills  “A lot of the heavy  lifting has been done.”

He says the 30 by 30 plan “Was not something that was developed on the back of a napkin,  We worked in  detail with the Canadian Forest Service, we worked with the R & D folks in our member companies and we ran this by some of our third party experts and people we know in the academic field, so it’s ambitious,  it’s pretty comprehensive.”  They have pledged to report out the numbers annually.

The Federal Government had pledged  a billion dollars over the next four years  for innovation in the resource sector, Nighbor is pressing to ensure some of that funding will  find its way to  forestry  innovation  “There is a clear innovation play to  ensure Canada is staying on top  of and on the leading   edge in bringing some of these new products to market.”

Nighbor will  be on  a panel at the International BioEnergy conference taking place in Prince George next week  from the 15th to the 17th.  “The main message I will be bringing is about the opportunity   that  does exist in bioenergy”.    While   B.C. is  a leader in bio-energy,  he says there is more that  can be done ” I will present   the possibilities that exist and why innovation is critical to growing the industry and making sure we have good forestry  jobs in the future in BC.”