Forest supply chain at risk of collapse

Pictured is a stretch of Algonquin Provincial Park.

There are many opportunities to create a growing, thriving, and sustainable forest economy in Nova Scotia. To be able to capitalize on these opportunities, we need to quickly move to support the larger forestry supply chain.

We don’t currently have sufficient demand for low grade products and waste. This reduced the overall harvesting capacity in the province. Harvesting capacity is around half of what it was before the closure of Northern Pulp.

It also means the forest supply chain is at risk of collapse.

Without a market for this type of wood product, the rest of the sector and our goal of practicing ecological forestry is at risk. Securing and establishing these markets is the foundation upon which a strong, growing, and sustainable forest economy can grow. And without the harvesting capacity available for the cleanup of the downed trees from Hurricane Fiona, we are going to see more trees rot and decay on the forest floor, releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

As much as Nova Scotia needs forestry, our forests need forestry.

Harvesting is essential for a healthy ecosystem and can prevent much of the stored carbon dioxide from being released back into the atmosphere. Locking carbon from the forest into long-lived timber products will secure the carbon for a longer period than the life of the tree.

There are solutions within our reach.

First, opening the European Union to Nova Scotia forest products would be a game changer in the short-term. We could use existing infrastructure to get our forest products to new markets and geopolitical tensions create a window of opportunity for our sector.

Second, we need to build more with wood. When we build structures with timber, we lock away carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. This makes it easier to achieve net zero in construction. This would further reduce our carbon emissions and help the forest economy grow and prosper.

Recent news of a potential mass timber facility coming to Nova Scotia is exciting. The Mass Timber Company is planning to build a facility here in Nova Scotia that will create over 140 high pay jobs.

Third, we are very interested in the possibility posed by district heating. Locally-sourced biomass could power heating throughout much of the province.

Finally, Northern Pulp’s efforts to build a world class facility in Nova Scotia would provide a major boost to the sector. The mill is an important part of the forest economy in Nova Scotia, but we also believe the proposed mill will set an international example for what is possible.

However, based on timelines presented by the company, there is a very real risk of supply chain collapse before it ever opens. We are already seeing the impacts of this today. And no matter our view of the mill, we can all agree that a strong, growing, and sustainable forest economy is of the utmost importance to our economy and our forests.

We must focus on all of the above options as opposed to searching for a silver bullet. After all, a strong and growing forest sector is a diversified sector; one with new markets, new products, and one that creates more opportunities throughout our province.

Stephen Moore

Executive Director

Forest Nova Scotia