The province approved a $1.1-million investment, today, Jan. 31, in eight projects to explore new ways of doing business in the forestry sector.
The investments will help identify new products and production processes, reduce costs and make Nova Scotia’s forestry industry a stronger competitor in the world marketplace.
“Forestry has changed internationally with new markets, new technologies and new products, so we must be innovative to remain competitive,” said Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill.
The province is working with FPInnovations, one of the world’s largest private, non-profit forest research centres, to identify future options for the industry.
“We are very proud to be associated with the Nova Scotia government as they lead the way in forest sector innovation across the Atlantic provinces,” said Pierre LaPointe, CEO of FPInnovations. “These projects run a broad gamut across all aspects of the forest sector, from investigating the impact of Nova Scotia’s harvesting guidelines to improving yields at hardwood sawmills, to converting wood to biochemicals.”
For example, two new biochemical products that could be derived from wood are carbon black, which is used in the tire industry, and non-food sugars, which can be used to make plastic.
The forestry industry has been a staple of the Nova Scotia economy for close to a century, particularly in rural Nova Scotia. In 2012, it contributed about $283 million to Nova Scotia’s gross domestic product, employed 5,200 people and exported more than $384 million worth of products internationally.
The sector has been under pressure from falling demands for newsprint and home building materials since the economic downturn five years ago.
Over the past decade, paper mills in the province have downsized or closed. Yet, the industry outlook is optimistic.
The Port Hawkesbury mill is now producing super-calendared paper for catalogues and magazines, and the former Liverpool mill now houses a public-private consortium developing forest-based, clean-energy options.
Innovation and evolution is necessary to keep the industry viable.
“Government is focused on identifying the best opportunities to move our forestry sector into the future,” said Mr. Churchill.
Results from these eight projects will be in by the summer.