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Ontario Government Launches New Forest Biomass Action Plan

Calstock — Today, the Ontario government launched the province’s first-ever Forest Biomass Action Plan to drive economic growth and ensure the forestry sector remains strong for future generations. The plan promotes economic opportunities for using forest biomass, a low quality wood left over from forestry mills, in new diverse ways, including low-carbon consumer products and renewable energy.

“Innovative uses of forest biomass will create new sources of renewable and environmentally friendly products and ways of doing business,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “Our government’s Forest Biomass Action Plan will secure forestry jobs across the north and ensure our province has the materials we need to Build Ontario.”

The release of the action plan coincides with Calstock Generating Station in Hearst securing a new contract for biomass-fired electricity. Earlier this year, Todd Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Energy directed the Independent Electricity System Operator to enter into a procurement contract recognizing the important role Calstock Generating Station plays in servicing Ontario’s electricity needs. The new contract secures good jobs in the north while using up to 158,000 tonnes of renewable energy through biomass annually.

“We know that biomass is essential to our forestry industry, and that the industry is essential to Northern Ontario, which is what makes our government’s action plan a win-win for all,” said Minister Smith. “Securing biomass-fired electricity generation at Calstock Generating Station will continue to promote clean generation, support small communities and secure jobs across the North while maintaining electricity rate stability for families and businesses.”

The five-year action plan’s objectives include finding new uses for forest biomass, improving the business environment for forest biomass products, and supporting involvement for Indigenous communities in forest biomass supply chains.

“We’re thrilled to see the Ontario government recognize the importance of biomass to Ontario’s future. Biomass is a clean, low-carbon form of energy, and a central part of the growing circular bioeconomy,” said Ian Dunn, President and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association. “This action plan provides a road map for the sector’s next five years, and a long-term vision for biomass in Ontario. This is the start of a new era, and the forest industries are excited to see what’s next for this renewable, environmentally friendly resource.”

The development of the action plan was supported by a diverse working group with diverse interests in forest biomass, including Indigenous partners, businesses and associations.

“With the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory taking significant steps forward towards the development of a 150,000 tonne wood pellet plant in the Sudbury region, Wiikwemkoong looks forward to Ontario’s announcement of the Forest Biomass Action Plan and the implementation of the action items within the plan,” said John Manitowabi, Director of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory.

“This plan will support Wiikwemkoong in achieving its goal of the use of forest biomass as a greener solution for local community heating fuel sources and supporting the creation of jobs for the plant itself and the additional forest sector jobs that will be required to move the underutilized and unmerchantable biomass within the Forest Units of Sudbury, Spanish and the Northshore.”

The final plan includes feedback and input from Indigenous communities and the public after a significant consultation process.

“Biofuels have the potential to play an important role in decarbonizing the steel industry in Canada with a substantial challenge in securing sustainable supply of biomass,” said Catherine Cobden, President and CEO of the Canadian Steel Producers Association. “Forest biomass is an ideal feedstock to produce the high quality biocarbon needed. This Action Plan is a first step on the road to identifying biomass availability and the potential supply chains to meet our industry’s needs.”

To learn more about Ontario’s Forest Biomass Action Plan, visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/forest-biomass-action-plan


Quick Facts

  • Forestry is essential to Ontario’s economy and provides materials used in hospital masks, gowns and other hygiene products, and sterile medical and food wrappings packaging.
  • The forest sector generated $18 billion in revenue from the sale of manufactured goods and services in 2020 and supported more than 148,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2021.
  • Wood produced from Ontario’s Crown forests is sustainably sourced and renewable. Wood is a renewable resource, a clean energy source, and a sustainable – and biodegradable – alternative to single-use plastics.
  • One of the barriers to the current harvesting expansion of Ontario wood is the lack of uses for more excess of low-quality wood called biomass. The Forest Biomass Action Plan focuses on two types of forest biomass: mill by-products from manufacturing, including bark, shavings and sawdust; and forest biofibre, trees or above-ground tree parts that are not normally used to create conventional forest products.

Quotes

“This action plan shows the government’s commitment to creating jobs and supporting forestry communities across Ontario. The biomass action plan is a key component of Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy that will support economic growth, foster innovation and encourage investment among forestry businesses. Biomass is essential to Ontario’s green economy, and the action plan is an investment in its future.”

– Dan Bowes, R.P.F.
Chair, Ontario Forest Industries Association and Ontario Woodlands & Fibre Resources Manager, Columbia Forest Products

“At a time of transformational change for the forestry sector, the Biomass Action Plan provides a strong foundation upon which our industry can invest in the future. By securing a 5-year contract for the Calstock Power Plant in Hearst, this government has once again demonstrated their resolute commitment for workers and employers of Northern Ontario.”

– Dominic Lemieux
General Manager – Ontario Operations, Atlantic Power

“Sustainable forestry is at the heart of GreenFirst Forest Products. Guided by this commitment, we welcome the release of the Forest Biomass Action Plan, which recognizes that forest biomass resources can support northern, rural and Indigenous communities, provide opportunities for forest-based businesses of all sizes and contribute to a healthy environment. The action plan vision reflects our aspiration for Ontario’s forest sector: thriving forests that provide benefit to all.”

– Chris McDonell, R.P.F.
Chief Forester, GreenFirst Forest Products

“Ontario’s sustainable and renewable forest biomass provides a tremendous opportunity to be a global leader in the bioeconomy, creating new low carbon products, sustainable materials, and supporting jobs in the forest products industry and communities.”

– Chris Walton
CEO, Centre for Research & Innovation in the Bioeconomy


Additional Resources

Environmental Registry of Ontario

Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy