The Ontario government is promoting economic development and sustainable forest management by releasing a draft Forest Biomass Action Plan for public review and comment. The province’s action plan examines innovative uses of forest biomass: mill by-products and other wood matter with applications from heat and power generation to sustainable, low-carbon consumer products.
“In our forest sector strategy, our government committed to helping Ontario’s forest industry reach its full potential, through recovery and into the future,” said John Yakabuski, Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “By working with Indigenous partners and the forest sector, we have advanced that commitment with a proposal to unlock the potential of Ontario’s forest biomass.”
Developing a Forest Biomass Action Plan is a key commitment of Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy announced in August 2020. Following that announcement, the ministry convened a working group of more than a dozen members from the forest biomass supply chain to develop a draft action plan for public consultation.
“The continued sustainable development of the forest sector is vital to Ontario’s economy and many communities across the province,” said Minister Yakabuski. “This action plan sets out a path to new markets and local jobs – and it does so while improving our environmental stewardship.”
The draft action plan outlines five objectives:
- identifying pathways to markets for forest biomass
- supporting demand for forest bioenergy and bioproducts
- improving the business and regulatory environments for the use of forest biomass
- supporting holistic, culturally relevant pathways for Indigenous community involvement in forest biomass value chains to support reconciliation between Indigenous communities and the Crown
- communicating, collaborating and informing on forest biomass opportunities.
“Expanding the use of forest biomass is essential to the competitiveness of the forest industry and will further assist in meeting an increased demand for dimensional lumber and other wood products,” said Ian Dunn, president and chief executive officer of Ontario Forest Industries Association. “This plan will create jobs and promote sustainable economic development, which OFIA and its member companies are deeply committed to. OFIA is pleased to see the government continue to make progress on the goals set out in the Forest Sector Strategy.”
Wood produced from Ontario’s Crown forests is sustainably sourced and renewable. Wood is a renewable resource, a clean energy source, and a sustainable – and biodegradable – alternative to single-use plastics.
Consultation on the draft Forest Biomass Action Plan through the Environmental Registry will close June 21. Additional comments received will be considered as the government completes further consultations with Indigenous partners.