​by David Lindsay, President and CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada

One of the most beautiful summer spots in Canada is the Lake-of-the-Woods area in North Western Ontario.  Kenora, on the shores of Lake of the Woods, was an ideal location for a policy summit on forestry innovation.  Minister Greg Rickford invited Forestry Ministers from across Canada together with academics and industry representatives to discuss the issues and the opportunities for forestry innovation.  Held on July 9th, immediately before the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ (CCFM) meeting in Thunder Bay Ontario, it was an opportunity to exchange ideas and focus on the future of the forest sector in Canada. Participants engaged on twitter using the hashtag #ForestSummit2015 to dialogue about the National Forest Innovation Summit.

The day kicked off with a thoughtful presentation by Lars Sandberg of Timwood consulting.  An international consultant from Sweden who has advised multinational companies around the world, Lars brought a global perspective to the discussion.  He explained the range of exciting opportunities for wood as a building material and for bio-energy and bio-chemicals.  His presentation spoke to many opportunities and many challenges.  His advice was that the government and industry and the academic community needed to work closely together to create a roadmap to optimize the potential for the industry in Canada.

Lars Sandberg from Timwood Consulting kicked off the day with a wide ranging presentation on the opportunity and potential for the use of wood and wood fibre in both traditional lumber markets and the bio-economy.

Two panel discussions took a deeper dive into the question of how best to chart a course for innovation in Canada’s forest sector.  Assistant Deputy Minister Glenn Mason kicked off the first panel with a review of recent policy and program successes – including mention of the recently released IFIT report – and the second panel was started by Pierre Lapointe from FPInnovations dealing with the competitiveness challenges in running a business and investing in new innovation at the same time.

FPAC and FPAC companies had a prominent role in both the first and the second panel.  The list of participants was as follows:

Plenary Session 1:  Sharing Priorities, Realizing the Vision: Charting a course for the next phase of forest innovation in Canada
• Trevor Stuthridge, Executive Vice President, FPInnovations
• Catherine Cobden, Executive Vice President, Forest Products Association of Canada
• Dr. Ian Potter, VP, Engineering, National Research Council Canada
• Scott Wiebe, Chief Execuive Officer, Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bioeconomy
• Dr. Robert Beauregard, Dean, Laval University

Plenary Session 2:  The spectrum of transformation in the Canadian forest sector:  How is innovation making you competitive?
• Daniel Archambault, Executive Vice President and COO, Kruger
• Ken Shields, President and Chief Executive officer, Conifex
• Bill Downing, Chief Executive Officer, Structurlam

A key outcome from this day of information exchange and discussion was the Kenora Declaration on Forest Innovation.  It was agreed that in order to continue to advance the innovation agenda in the forest sector three broad strategies would be necessary:
1. Collaborating to accelerate and enhance sustainable, market-driven investments to commercialize, process, product and market innovation with a focus on environmental excellence:
2. Encouraging prospective partners and new entrants in non-tradition industries and academics fields; making concerted efforts to facilitate connections with the forest sector; and
3. Mobilizing the best talent and technologies to address the future needs of the forest sector.

Natural Resources Canada Minister Greg Rickford hosted the Kenora summit and announced the Kenora Declaration on Forest Innovation.

The Kenora summit concluded on Thursday afternoon with a media availability session with all the Forestry Ministers in attendance prior to heading off to Thunder Bay for the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers meeting.

Closing Press Conference moderated by Associate Deputy Minister Michael Keenan with Provincial and Territorial Ministers and Federal Minister of Natural Resources.  From Left to right Zach Churchill from Nova Scotia, Denis Landry from New Brunswick, Bill Mauro from Ontario, Greg Rickford from the Federal Government and Scott Kent from the Yukon.

On Friday July 10th the meeting of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) in Thunder Bay continued the policy discussions on innovation.   All provinces were represented by either Ministers or senior officials at this meeting and they all ratified the Kenora Declaration.

Again, FPAC was given prominent placement at the beginning of the agenda to report to the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers on the progress of the transformation agenda of Canada’s forest sector.  I was pleased to be joined by three prominent CEO’s in presenting to the meeting.  Ken Shields from Conifex, Richard Garneau from Resolute and Frank Dotorri of White River Forest Products all spoke passionately about the potential for Canada’s forest sector.

During the afternoon session I participated in the session dealing with Aboriginal Engagement in Canada’s forest sector.  To kick off that session of the meeting, the meeting Chair, Minister Bill Mauro from Ontario, and I announced a new partnership between CCFM and FPAC.  While FPAC has presented an annual Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth this new partnership with CCFM will allow us to have a broader reach and present two annual awards.  A link to the web site with more details on this award is as follows:  Aboriginal Connection

Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) meeting in Thunder Bay receiving a presentation from Mistik Management Ltd from Meadow Lake Saskatchewan as part of the discussions on improving Aboriginal Engagement in the forest industry.

In addition to the topics of innovation and aboriginal engagement, Ministers also had incamera discussions on a number of additional topics.  FPAC and our CEO’s were very pleased to be a part of the 2015 Canadian Council of Forest Ministers meeting and are very hopeful that industry engagement will continue at next year’s meeting of Forestry Ministers.  For more details on the work done by CCFM you can explore their website here: http://www.ccfm.org/english/