By: The Working Forest Staff
OFIA — In September of 2018, the Ontario government committed to the development of a forest sector strategy that would reduce barriers and costs, attract investment and innovation and create jobs in the forest sector – while maintaining the highest levels of sustainable forest management and environmental stewardship. Today, that strategy has been launched; at a time where we recover from an unprecedented global challenge and continue to provide essential forest products, that span across many industries and supply chains (e.g. medical and hygiene supplies, toilet and tissue paper, and building materials) for a variety of dependent end-users.
“We are very excited about today’s announcement,” said Mayor Wendy Landry of Shuniah and President of the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association. “Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy will enhance recognition of Ontario’s sustainable forest management practices, increase forest growth, and remove barriers to accessing this renewable resource. Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) John Yakabuski deserve recognition for their aspirational vision of Ontario’s forest sector.”
“It is clear that the Ontario government has listened to the needs of northern municipalities,” said Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) President Danny Whalen. “A strong and sustainable forest sector supports thriving communities. We fully support the goals and objectives of Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy.”
Representing 40 First Nations across Ontario, Deputy Grand Council Chief Edward Wawia stated, “In addition to strengthening partnerships with Indigenous communities, we are thankful for a commitment within the Strategy to establish a long-term approach for protecting species at risk while removing unnecessary regulatory duplication.”
The important role of forest biomass is highlighted in the strategy, along with a commitment to developing a Biomass Action Plan. “A Biomass Action Plan will support economic development through the use of mill by-products and underutilized wood volumes,” said Mayor Roger Sigouin of Hearst. He continued, “Biomass facilities, such as the one found in my community, will play an essential role in a successful strategy.”
“Ontario’s robust legal framework and commitment to responsible forest management has resulted in a healthy and abundant natural resource. As consumers experience lumber shortages across North America, Ontario is in a strategic position to grow the forest sector and provide sustainably sourced fibre to those who need it most,” stated Jamie Lim, President, and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA). She concluded by saying “Now more than ever, the forest sector will play a critical role in the recovery of rural and northern communities and the 147,000 people that depend on the industry for employment. With today’s announcement, we are excited for what the future has in store.”