© Adam Harnum
David Lindsay, the executive director of the Forest Products Association of Canada, addresses the Canadian Institue of Forestry annual conference on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 at the Pepsi Centre Studio.
CORNER BROOK — The forestry industry has experienced some rough times over the past few decades, but it is beginning to restore the previous wealth in the industry in recent years, says David Lindsay.
This, in turn, is opening doors for more youth to become employed in the forestry sector.
Lindsay, executive director of Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) said at the annual conference and general meeting of the Canadian Institute of Forestry on Monday the industry is transforming itself through investment in new technologies and new equipment, which is ultimately leading to the creation of new products.
One example he discussed was a product created through the extraction of fibre from a tree, which is then used in the process of making rayon, a replacement for cotton.
“We’re going to need more employees in this next evolution of the forest industry,” Lindsay said before his keynote address at the conference.
The biggest market for the forestry industry today seems to be aimed at a younger audience.
Lindsay says a study with the Conference Board of Canada estimates over the next seven to eight years there will be a need for about 60,000 new jobs to replace those who are retiring and for new growth and economic opportunity.
“We need foresters and people who understand the science of the industry to ensure that it is managed in a sustainable way so that involves a lot of technical knowledge and a lot of scientific knowledge,” he said.
Lindsay said Newfoundland and Labrador is well-situated with a good infrastructure and a healthy, vibrant forest, which places the province in a position for growth, as trees are abundant throughout.
The biggest difference between oil and minerals in contrast to forest products is the resources used to create forest products are renewable — essentially meaning that trees can be grown and harvested repeatedly.
As a renewable resource, Lindsay said the intent is to promote more involvement in the industry throughout the country, and said a second project of the Green Dream internship being launched at the conference is targeted at recruiting more young people.
In the first edition of the Green Dream internship, it was limited to seven positions but the newest version opens the door to eight more internship opportunities.
The website created for the program will serve as a portal for youth to access application forms and learn about the 15 different jobs available, then a contest will be executed and later an announcement of the winners will be made.
According to Lindsay, the individuals who are selected will be invited to post blogs about their working experience while on the job and then be made available to the public through the website — a format which he claimed to be a successful tactic from the previous program.
The forestry industry is taking much the same approach as most modern industries, as it is striving to make use of social media platforms to reach out and communicate with the rest of the world.
“What we are trying to do is say, ‘Look, there are products, there are other opportunities; the forest industry is changing,’” Lindsay said.
Lindsay used the analogy often portrayed of forestry industry as being lumberjacks dressed in plaid jackets, when realistically, the industry has changed and there are more people involved behind the scenes wearing white lab coats than plaid jackets.
“We want to rebrand the industry — not the old forest industry of the last century — but it is a new biotechnology, biosciences of the 21st century,” he said.