By: The Working Forest Staff
CORNER BROOK, N.L., The Telegram — With the backdrop of a busy lumber yard behind him, Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne announced $9.6 million in funding for the forest sector in Corner Brook.
The announcement took place at Stan Dawe Ltd. on Riverside Drive. The funding will be used to support employment in rural communities and help open new markets and products for renewable, resource-based businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It includes $5.7 million for forest industry development projects, $400,000 for secondary forestry processing innovation pilot projects, and $3.5 million to establish forestry biomass market opportunities.
“We’re doing this not only in response, as an economic, a recovery response to COVID-19, but we’re also doing it as a recovery plan and an economic opportunity well after COVID-19,” said Byrne.
He said there’s an opportunity that never goes away, and that is the opportunity to develop the forest products industry. He said the province has a responsibility to respond to climate change and many of the initiatives that are being funded do that.
“But in addition to that, we have a responsibility to provide relief during COVID-19.”
Byrne said the funding would assist not only individual employment initiatives but regional incentive initiatives as well.
“To get people back to work and to improve the economy within the forestry sector.”
He said the forest sector is hurting and this will provide direct jobs beginning next week.
It will also assist value-added secondary production facilities that produce secondary high-value wood products and support initiatives that look at new innovations in the forestry industry.
“Seeing how we can use fiber and biomass in new ways to generate new opportunities and as a result combat climate change.”
Bill Dawson, executive director of Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Industry Association, stood by as Byrne made the announcement.
He said the past few months have been challenging for the industry.
“We’ve worked hard, we’ve worked continuously, cautiously and we’ve worked tirelessly to keep the lights on, and people employed.”
It hasn’t been easy, he said.
“Our member companies are committed to the long-term health of our forests,” he said.
“We are stewards of this resource and must ensure that it is managed wisely.”
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