Newfoundland and Labrador launches plan to diversify forest sector
By Ellen Cools
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Industry Association and forestry stakeholders, has launched the Forestry Sector Work Plan.
The plan outlines 32 actions to help diversify Newfoundland and Labrador’s forest sector, as well as strengthen the province’s economy and support the creation of new jobs.
N.L. Premier Dwight Bell, along with other members of the provincial government, representatives from Indigenous governments and organizations, forestry, and community leaders, announced the plan on Jan. 28.
According to the provincial government, the plan also details how industry partners will pursue opportunities and remove barriers to sustainable forest management, research, innovation and diversification, business development and risk management, public awareness, and human resources, skills and labour.
The province believes that the industry will meet and exceed lumber production levels seen before the forestry sector downturn by:
- Creating research and development programs to help improve the logistics of moving wood fibre to the mill, sawmills and market, as well as to diversify Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd.’s product lines
- Retaining silviculture programs to increase the annual allowable cut and support the replacement of forest timber land conversion to other uses
- Expanding sawmill production and diversifying wood products to increase forest industry business activity
- Increasing direct Indigenous employment in forestry by forming joint ventures and economic partnerships with Indigenous groups
- Increasing forest sector activity in Labrador
- Supporting the Atlantic Woodworks program to encourage using engineered wood products in midrise construction
- Increasing timber allocations and harvest levels to 20 per cent by 2020.
So far, N.L’s Department of Fisheries and Land Resources has increased timber allocations and harvest levels by 16 per cent compared to 2016 levels.
“Forestry has traditionally been a major sector of Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy – this sector is valued at $380 million, and supports more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs,” said Bill Dawson, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Industry Association, in a statement. “We are a sector comprised of a diverse group of companies, institutions and organizations dedicated to forest research, development and manufacturing, with companies ranging from small businesses to a major international corporation. Our sector has the knowledge, experience and drive to diversify, sustain and grow forestry, and with strategic support from the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, we are ready to meet the challenge through the Forestry Sector Work Plan.”
N.L.’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Bernard Davis also announced the Employment Enhancement Program for employers engaged in secondary processing in resource sectors, including forestry. Opening April 2019, the program will provide wage subsidies of up to 60 per cent of $12 per hour and training allowances. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Transfer Agreements will provide $500,000 in funding for the program.