Domtar Windsor mill: Precision tree-harvesting
Jan. 12, 2017 - William Angus and Thomas Logan chose Windsor, Que., as the site of Canada’s first wood-based pulp mill in 1864. Today, with more than 150 years of continuous operation, the site now known as Domtar’s Windsor mill is the city’s largest employer.
Advances in technology and sustainable forestry over the past 152 years have dramatically changed the landscape of the industry and environment in Windsor. In fact, today’s high-tech tree-harvesting techniques would be nearly unrecognizable to those who brought papermaking to the area.
Because few people outside of the industry actually get to witness sustainable forest management practices in action, the Windsor mill created its Harvesting with Precision video to demonstrate how tree harvesting techniques that mimic the forest’s natural cycle can actually benefit the land.
“Here, we’re doing a partial cut in a young hardwood stand, where some of the trees will die in the next 20 years or are not in good shape,” Domtar forester Patrick Cartier says in the tree harvesting video. “So we’ll do a partial cut to bring in more sunlight and promote new growth.”
Cartier explains how Domtar selects which trees to harvest using a specialized tree harvesting machine that can cut with extreme precision, removing a tree without damaging another one growing just inches away. The goal for such partial cuts, notes Cartier, is to promote growth for future harvests. “So next year and the year after, there will be new growth that will start the next group of trees that will eventually replace the ones that are here now after we harvest them in about 20 years,” he says.
Since Domtar obtained Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of its privately-owned forests in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec in 2005, a number of practices and partnerships have been developed to meet the FSC’s rigorous criteria while pursuing our forestry management operations in Windsor.
The FSC requires forest-products companies to make special efforts to protect the environment. The organizations must, among other things, take the necessary measures to preserve the habitat of rare or threatened species. They must also identify and preserve forests with high conservation values.
“There is much more to the forest than wood, and the certification aims at a balance between the environment, social responsibility and the economy,” said André Gravel, fiber manager at Windsor Mill. “Domtar is active in all stages, that is to say from the tree to the sheet of paper.”
The mill realizes that responsible forest management and careful tree harvesting is essential for healthy and thriving ecosystems. Its conservation efforts have earned the facility multiple awards, including a recent award at the Fondation Estrienne en Environnement gala and a Gold Award at a trade show celebrating best business practices organized by the Quebec Quality Movement in Montréal.
Over the past decade, Domtar and the Windsor Mill have helped preserve 12,000 acres of Quebec’s most prized forestlands in permanent conservation, ensuring these unique ecosystems remain well-preserved for future generations.