Silver Lining | Pandemic Accelerates Resurgence in Province’s Forest Industry
CORNER BROOK, NL - As we look back at 2020, we must first recognize the sacrifices of so many during this difficult time. We offer our condolences to those who lost loved ones and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our health care workers and frontline staff.
As an essential service, the forest industry struggled like so many did in the beginning of the pandemic. With stay-at-home public health restrictions in place, we shopped for hand sanitizer, implemented new safety protocols, and devised ways to keep our businesses operating. However, what we did not do was hoard toilet paper or foresee the overall surge in demand for forest products.
As an industry well accustomed to facing the swing of good and hard times, the Newfoundland & Labrador forestry sector moved swiftly. Spurred by government construction rebates, coupled with bans on single use plastics and a global movement towards renewables, the sector began to immediately adapt to the Covid-19 crisis. What followed during the second half of 2020 was record demand, increased production, and major sawmill investments within the province.
“It’s good to see these positive indicators”, states Bill Dawson, Executive Director for the NL Forest Industry Association. “However, our sector has been in a state of transformation for some time now. The pandemic simply accelerated our transformation and highlighted the significance of the emerging bioeconomy and general public’s reliance on the forest industry.” “Our industry members have and continue to invest heavily through commitments made in the Way Forward on Forestry Sector Workplan” says Dawson. “We are at a pivotal juncture. There is tremendous potential for this province in the forest sector, yet investment in the crown resource by government has withered significantly over the past decade.”
Given the current fiscal situation we call on government to work with industry to:
Support geoscience technology investments like those made offshore, to onshore, renewable resources;
Commit to “The Way Forward Forest Sector Plan”;
Explore alternative forest management planning scenarios with stakeholders;
Commit to no further reduction in productive forest land from the landbase;
Refrain from entertaining forest management agreements with entities with no commercial forestry enterprise; and
Invest in carbon sequestration by increasing investment in reforestation, protection, and silviculture.
It is time for government to diversify its portfolio and invest in our green, renewable natural resources that have sustained us for generations.
Our Forests | Our Future