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Home » Industry & Business » Forest Biomass: Market Opportunities and Government Initiatives in Ontario’s Forest Sector

Dan Goldberger

President and Chairman of the Board, OSEA

Ontario’s 71 million hectares of rich forests cover an area larger than the size of forests in Belgium, France and Germany combined.

Market Opportunities for Forest Biomass in Ontario

Generating over $18 billion in revenue and supporting almost 147,000 direct and indirect jobs in communities across the province, Ontario’s vast resources of sustainable forestry do not only represent a primary source of economic wellbeing for many people, mainly those living in rural and Northern communities, including Indigenous people, but also provide a reliable source of renewable energy, especially since the province put an end to coal use in 2014.

Currently, in Ontario there is approximately 15 million cubic metres of wood supply that is not being used by existing industry. However, given that global demand for wood products, such as pulp, lumber and wood panels are expected to exponentially grow for many reasons, among which are the replacement of single-use plastics with paper options, increasingly widespread use of innovative products, such as 3D printing, new green chemicals and wood-based composites, the high potential in Ontario’s forest biomass could potentially be available for attracting further domestic and international investments in the forest sector without harmful impacts on the sustainability of the forests.

Government Programs for Forest Biomass in Ontario

In addition, the Ontario government also plays a key role in supporting and modernizing the forest biomass industry through implementation of its sustainable forest management practices, including but not limited to, Forest Management Manuals, Independent Forest Audit process, and environmental assessment requirements for forest management and initiatives, like the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program in order to make sure that barriers and high costs of regulatory burden, transportation, equipment and energy related to forest biomass are reduced to  the minimum.

Ontario has also developed a Forest Biomass Action Plan as an outcome of its Forest Sector Strategy, and the plan is designed to enhance economic development in the province, especially through Indigenous community involvement and reconciliation, examine innovative uses (combustion, pyrolysis, hydro-thermal treatments, gasification and thermo-chemical processing, etc.) of biomass products, including under-utilized mill by-products and biofibre, identify pathways to markets for biomass, and support demand and regulatory environment as key factors. Moreover, the Ontario government provides forestry-training programs, such as SkillsAdvance in order to support forest education and achieve greater involvement of young adults, including a growing Indigenous youth population in the forest sector.

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