Sustainability
Every  summer a large number of communities face the threat of wildfires.
Last spring, I participated in a field visit organized by the Canadian Forest Service in Ontario.
Harvesting forest residues for biomass means new hope for many sawmill owners and contractors, and many such projects have been announced recently. However, some four years ago, before this strong tendency to develop diversification strategies, an idea was born in the minds of the leaders of two organizations in eastern Quebec:
During the 17th century, there was a high level of commercial activity around wood ash in Nouvelle-France. Settlers were clearing forestland for crop cultivation, creating large amounts of residual wood that was not needed for fuel or construction material.
Biomass is often associated with new and innovative sources of fuel for power generation, but at Acadian Timber, it has been a big part of the company’s business for over two decades.
With biomass-powered energy production becoming mainstream, fibre allocation and supply have become hot topics.
Apr. 9, 2010, Toronto – Ontario continues to award renewable energy contracts under the new feed-in tariff. Two of the latest 184 projects involve biomass.
The boiler at Kruger Inc.’s Corner Brook Pulp and Paper (CBPP) mill in western Newfoundland has a big appetite for biomass – 713 tonnes/day to be precise.
Not all that long ago, wood waste from construction and demolition sites would have been landfilled in this part of Quebec, about 100 km east of Montreal.
For many in Canada’s forest or energy sectors, biomass and bioenergy are one and the same. But not for the staff at the Girardville Forestry Cooperative, who have been creating and commercializing a wide range of bioproducts for over 15 years now. The company extracts slash and other nontimber products from the stands it works in northern Quebec, with nary an ounce going up in flames.
Coppice cropping has been used in Sweden since the 1970s to produce biomass, and it’s now gaining attention elsewhere in Europe and in places like the United States, New Zealand, and Canada.  Intensive willow coppice cropping seems like an efficient way to produce a consistent supply of purpose-grown fibre.
Oct. 14, 2009 - Invasive scotch broom from Mill Hill Regional Park is being put to good use this year as fuel for biomass plants on Vancouver Island, reports the Goldstream News Gazette.
Sep. 3, 2009, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador - Energy Ministers from across Canada spent two days of discussions in St. John’s at their annual conference hosted by the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, minister of natural resources for Newfoundland and Labrador. The ministers discussed global economic developments, their impacts on the energy sector, and how to best position the country and industry to capitalize on a sustainable economic recovery.
I love the contrarian’s view. In almost 20 years of forestry writing I’ve even made a decent living at it.  No matter how sensible a viewpoint seems, I get nervous when too many heads are nodding agreement. So when Jimmy Girvan, a fibre supply analyst from Victoria, BC, asked if I’d like to hear about a forecast model that shows a less than rosy picture of biomass availability in BC some 10 years out, I said hell yeah.
Over the past year, I have been touring Canada to talk about the consequences on the ecosystem of removing too much biomass, presentations mostly given to industry and biomass promoters. Afterwards, I was often pressed about the consequences of NOT removing biomass from the forests. “Forests need to be cleaned of biomass; we are helping the ecosystem by removing it.” But how much scientific support is there for such common perceptions?
Nowhere in Canada is the buzz about forest biomass and its use for energy production heard more often than in British Columbia. In 2007, the BC Government announced the BC Energy Plan (the Plan), a key component of which was the development of the BC Bioenergy Strategy.
Jurisdictions around the world are developing or updating their biomass harvesting frameworks.  Three Canadian provinces have recently issued new policies or guidelines: Ontario in August 2008, New Brunswick in October 2008, and Nova Scotia in May 2009.
As the North American housing market fights to stay alive during these tough economic times, some Canadian loggers are rolling with the punches and taking advantage of environmental incentives from the government to stay ahead of the game.
For the past several years, I’ve been working on defining sustainable levels of forest biomass harvesting that can be used as guidelines for decision making.
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