© Cory Hurley
Jim Taylor, chair of the Newfoundland chapter of the Canadian Institue of Foresty, speaks during an annual general meeting and conference Tuesday.
Forestry, one of the staple industries of Newfoundland and Labrador throughout its history, still exists as a vast resource.
What has changed is what is happening within that industry. Paper mills have closed and saw mills are dwindling. The industry is left suffering.
Jim Taylor, chair of the Newfoundland chapter of the Canadian Institute of Forestry, said that is the reality they are facing. However, it is leading to a change.
“Everybody right across Canada, around the world, are searching for new ways to use their forests — probably more sustainable ways, greener ways,” Taylor said Tuesday following the conclusion of the 105th Canadian Institute of Forestry annual general meeting and conference held in Corner Brook.
This province is in the very early stages when it comes to tapping into new products and services with this vast resource, he admitted. With a lot less wood being cut, more dies naturally without the full realization of its value.
“We are trying to figure out ways we can maintain everybody’s values — that could be from tourism and viewscapes to high-end uses of the forest — and shift gears into a new kind of managing our forest,” Taylor said.
The conference brought together about 300 delegates, and experts within the industry offered examples of that innovation. It also provided the networking opportunities to continue developing ideas for development and growth, according to the provincial chair.
One such area is the expansion of new chemical development, and combining wood fibres, in unique ways of making new products, he said.
The new challenge is finding the industrial leaders to make such products, then markets in demand of them. The uncertainity of such an industry often leads to slow progress.
“A lot of people are out of work, and now are trying to figure out how to use the forest in different ways,” he said. “It is a disaster in one way.
But, in another way, it is exciting because it is going to create all kinds of opportunities down the road.”