The Northern Development Initiative Trust is rolling out a new  fund to  help small  forestry related businesses  research and develop new  technologies and techniques.

The fund will provide up to $1 million dollars in grants over a two year period for small and medium sized companies and community forests involved in  logging,  processing  and  transporting  products related to the forest sector.

The ‘Forest Innovation Fund’  is  under the  NDIT’s  Pine Beetle Recovery Account.

Although the beetles have long gone  and many pine beetle stands  already harvested,  there are challenging days ahead as the forest industry deals with  a reduced mid-term timber supply.   Lo-Bar Transport Company  President Greg Jacob,  says this  fund will allow companies like his own,  to come up with new,  cost effective and efficient  ways to  harvest , process and  deliver  the goods.  He says  the grants  “provide a new source of capital that companies like ours can use to stay competitive.”

“The Mountain Pine Beetle continues  to have an impact on our communities” says Shirley  Bond,  MLA for Prince George-Valemount .  “Providing support through this fund will encourage innovation and research with the goal of minimizing impacts and maximizing  business opportunities now and into the future.”

In order to qualify for a grant a company  must be privately owned,  have  fewer than 500 employees, have revenue less than $100 million dollars and be based within the  area served by NDIT.

But  as the  Softwood Lumber Agreement has yet  to be  renegotiated,   will  the USA  view this  funding as an unfair subsidy?   “We certainly don’t think there will be an impact in terms of softwood lumber discussions” says MLA Shirley Bond.  “This funding is focused on communities, it doesn’t impact the majors ( forest companies) and in talking to the  people leading the file on Softwood there doesn’t appear to be a major impact there.”

The new fund will  provide up to  50% of the cost of a project, to a maximum of $50 thousand dollars per project.   Eligible project  examples include,  innovation in biomass and harvesting and  gathering techniques,  site remediation advancements, seedling survival enhancement, value-added forest products and new technology.