Forestry researchers and practitioners share latest activities

Participants in a recent forestry knowledge-sharing event heard about everything from bio-economy and ecosystem mapping to silviculture and logging roads.

The free, online session, organized by the Canadian Forest Service and Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, brought together academics, government researchers, industry representatives and practitioners in the forest economy.

“Innovation and research are crucial to modernizing the forestry sector and responding to the pressing climate change and sustainable forest management challenges of today,” said Karishma Boroowa, director, Atlantic Forestry Centre. “For these reasons, knowledge sharing events such as these are important for collective learning and identifying opportunities to advance the development of our sector.” 

A presentation by Bill Dawson, Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Industry Association, and Stephen Decker, a professor with the School of Science and the Environment, focussed on the opportunities and challenges they’ve met with respect to forest-based bio-economy development on the island.

Forest-based Bio-economy Development in Newfoundland” is a research project led by NL Forest Industry Association and funded by the NL Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC).

In a forest-based context, bioeconomy involves the use of forest resources to create sustainable alternatives to fossil-fuel based products and services, while adding value to traditional forest-based products, supporting the identification of new products and markets, and consequently, support a more diverse and robust workforce.  

The project uses case studies of key forestry dependent communities in Newfoundland. One such case study region is focused on the sawmill in Bloomfield, NL: Sexton Lumber.

Researchers have been working with the owners of the sawmill, stakeholders, and possible partners to identify assets and resources associated with the enterprise, as well as potential opportunities, technologies and training for under-represented members of the workforce. 

Using waste streams to benefit agriculture and other sectors has emerged as a potential basis for new partnerships and projects, said Dr. Decker.

“A lot of the ideas we heard centred on what’s referred to as ‘waste heat’ from sawmilling processes. A number of stakeholders said it would great if we could capture this heat or even steam, and use it to support other co-located processes,” he said, adding that the heat discharged from the sawmill operations could be used to heat a nearby building or a greenhouse while other residues could be used in support of agricultural operations.

From a workforce perspective, some study participants suggested that skilled laborers already in place at local mills could share their expertise to support co-located ventures, such as food production facilities. Similarly, others have suggested that the forest industry’s local skilled workforce could even provide mentorship opportunities to encourage entry into the workforce by currently under-represented groups such as women, youth, and Indigenous peoples. 

Other presentations at the forestry event included:

  • “Mapping Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Forestry: Case Study Using Proxies and LiDAR Data” by Catherine Frizzle (Université de Sherbrooke/Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd.). 
  •  “Silva21: A National Initiative to Adapt Silviculture to Global Change” by Vincent Roy (Canadian Forest Service) 
  • “Resource Roads – Supporting Research, Industry, and Recreation in NL” by Sean Greene (Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture) 

“We’re pleased to partner with CFS and to be a supporter of these kinds of opportunities – to provide places where researchers and practitioners can share ideas, learn from each other, and forge partnerships that will benefit the people of the province,” said Ken Carter, director, Research and Engagement at Grenfell Campus.

To learn more, check out the recording of the event on the Grenfell Campus’s Facebook page.

NL Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC)

The NL Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC), administered by the College of the North Atlantic (CNA), has a provincial mandate to provide a coordinated, central point of access to engage all labour market stakeholders about challenges, opportunities and best practices in workforce development. The Centre’s goal is to promote and support the research, testing and sharing of ideas and models of innovation in workforce development that will positively impact employability, employment, and entrepreneurship within the province’s labour force and particularly under-represented groups. Funding is provided by the Department of Immigration, Skills and Labour (ISL) under the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement.

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