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Why don’t we think more about trees in Ontario?

April 15, 2016 - Trees mean different things to Ontarians depending where you live and your life experiences. For new Canadians it may be the Maple leaf on our flag, for others it is the Pine forest backdrop of a summer camp or the family’s beloved log cottage. For some, it’s the sight of logs trucked through town on the way to the local sawmill. We might celebrate planting a tree on Earth Day with our kids, admire the grain of fine wood in furniture, or enjoy reading a newspaper printed on Ontario newsprint.

April 15, 2016  By Rob Keen Forests Ontario

The Ontario forest sector has evolved from “log drives” down rivers, shipping square timber to European markets, producing newsprint and the lumber for house framing across North America. In addition to these valuable uses, we now have engineered wood products; new technology to build multi-story wood structures and the forest industry increasingly contributes to the building blocks of the new biomass and bio-economy.

Tree related jobs, whether traditional or in the new economy, are key to the viability of more than 260 Ontario communities, with 180,000 Ontarians (larger than the population of Barrie or Oshawa) employed in the sector. Wood underpins the provincial economy generating a domestic economic impact of 10.6 billion dollars, total wages and salaries of 1.95 billion dollars, and 3.89 billion dollars in domestic exports.

More important is the current reality of climate change and recognizing the many benefits that well managed forests and the production of wood products play in mitigating climate change.

With Canada’s recent federal budget, the Government demonstrated its intent to invest in clean technology, such as those used by the forest sector as a way to help the Country address the global climate change challenge. The renewable and sustainable characteristics of wood speak to the important role that the Ontario forest industry can play by creating green jobs over the long-term.


In Ontario, we are gaining momentum in the wood-based bioeconomy, ranging from the production of liquid fuels, bioplastics, biocompisites and even biopharmaceuticals.

Each day, wood is increasingly a contributor to our healthy economy, environment and our lifestyles. Investing today in Ontario’s forest sector will pay dividends for generations of Canadians to come.

The preceding piece was submitted by Rob Keen, RFP, who is the CEO of Forests Ontario.

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