August 20, 2020 By P&PC Staff
The Ontario government has released its final plan to encourage economic growth in the forest industry over the next 10 years.
The Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy builds on the draft strategy the province unveiled in December 2019.
An advisory committee will be tasked with developing and overseeing an implementation plan, including providing input on key performance indicators in the short, medium and long term. These KPIs will include how the measures taken meet the goals outlined in the document.
The advisory committee will also be responsible for reporting annually on the progress made in achieving the actions listed under each pillar.
Central to the strategy is the promotion of stewardship and sustainability, putting more wood to work, improving cost competitiveness, and fostering innovation, new markets and talent. Strengthening partnerships with Indigenous communities, organizations and workers is also a key focus.
Key action items
Some of the initial commitments from the government pertinent to the pulp and paper industry include:
- Develop a Forest Biomass Action Plan to maximize the use of mill byproducts
- Allow businesses to accelerate write-offs of capital investments
- Relaunch the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program
- Invest approximately $84.5 million to improve data on the forest inventory using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), an advanced remote sensing technology, to inform forest management planning
- Work with CRIBE, industry and Indigenous communities on next-gen forest products
- Strategic review of stumpage to encourage timber utilization
- Review forest access road infrastructure
“As we saw during the COVID-19 outbreak, the forest sector and its products are not only critical to the economy, but to the lives of all Ontarians, providing essential forest products for hygiene, food and medical supplies, as well as packaging and shipping products,” says John Yakabuski, minister of natural resources and forestry, in a statement.
“In many Ontario communities, forestry jobs are the heart of the economy, and this strategy is part of our plan to build Ontario together with a better quality of life and a higher standard of living in every region of the province in a sustainable and responsible way.”
In development since 2018
Since announcing the development of a forest strategy in 2018, the government has hosted 27 engagement sessions with Indigenous leaders, municipalities and industry, and collected feedback from the public through multiple Environmental Registry postings.
Ontario’s forest sector plants approximately 73 million trees annually and drops an additional 365 million seeds aerially on harvested Crown lands to help regenerate forests.
The province has 71 million hectares of forest, of which 27.7 million hectares are managed Crown forests. Less than half of one per cent of managed Crown forests is harvested each year.
The forest sector generates over $18 billion in revenue and supports approximately 147,000 direct and indirect jobs across Ontario.
Read the Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy here.
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