Unit 6 - The Future

Lesson 1: Challenges for Canada's Forest Industry

The future health of Canada's forests depends on innovation.  There is a need to find new uses for wood fibre; investing in innovation and new technologies has the potential to start a transformation in the forest sector in Canada.

To help with the transformation, on April 1, 2007FPInnovations was created as a new Canadian research and development institution.  It integrated four existing private forest research institutes to form one strong agency.
FPInnovations has a vision of a world where products from sustainable forests contribute to every aspect of daily life.

Two of Canada's challenges in the forest industry are explained in more detail below.

     Forest Sector Transformation

Forest sector transformation is all about finding new uses for Canada's forests. Globally, there is an exploding demand for biofuels/bio-products, which are derived from natural, renewable sources.

This trend is being driven by dwindling supplies of fossil fuels and increased concern for our environment. Although Canada's traditional forest products (examples, lumber and wood pulp) will continue to be important in the future, numerous viable options already exist to convert wood fibre into innovative, new biofuels and bio-products. For example, renewable fuels, lightweight plastics, non-toxic chemicals, and food additives can all be produced from wood fibre.
The future success of Canada's forest industry will largely depend upon how well Canada's forest industry can rise to meet the demands of this new "bio-economy."

Climate Change

Climate change
is the other major challenge being faced by Canada's forests as we move into the future.

The major infestation of the pine beetle in British Columbia and increased fire activity in the western boreal forest are just two examples demonstrating how climate change is already impacting our forests. There is also evidence to suggest that even the lifecycles of certain trees may be changing as a result of earlier spring weather and longer summers. In some species we are already noticing changes in the timing of dormancy, leafing out, flowering, and production.

Innovation and research will be key to addressing the challenges that have just been described. For their part, future forest managers will need to be more adaptable than ever before. As well, there will be an even greater need for decision makers to closely monitor any changes in the forest and base policy on sound scientific data.