Ontario Government Launches New Forest Biomass Action Plan

The Ontario government launched the province’s first-ever Forest Biomass Action Plan to drive economic growth and ensure the forestry sector remains strong for future generations. The plan promotes economic opportunities for using forest biomass, a low quality wood left over from forestry mills, in new diverse ways, including low-carbon consumer products and renewable energy.

“Innovative uses of forest biomass will create new sources of renewable and environmentally friendly products and ways of doing business,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “Our government’s Forest Biomass Action Plan will secure forestry jobs across the north and ensure our province has the materials we need to Build Ontario.”

The release of the action plan coincides with Calstock Generating Station in Hearst securing a new contract for biomass-fired electricity. Earlier this year, Todd Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Energy directed the Independent Electricity System Operator to enter into a procurement contract recognizing the important role Calstock Generating Station plays in servicing Ontario’s electricity needs. The new contract secures good jobs in the north while using up to 158,000 tonnes of renewable energy through biomass annually.

“We know that biomass is essential to our forestry industry, and that the industry is essential to Northern Ontario, which is what makes our government’s action plan a win-win for all,” said Minister Smith. “Securing biomass-fired electricity generation at Calstock Generating Station will continue to promote clean generation, support small communities and secure jobs across the North while maintaining electricity rate stability for families and businesses.”

The five-year action plan’s objectives include finding new uses for forest biomass, improving the business environment for forest biomass products, and supporting involvement for Indigenous communities in forest biomass supply chains.

“We’re thrilled to see the Ontario government recognize the importance of biomass to Ontario’s future. Biomass is a clean, low-carbon form of energy, and a central part of the growing circular bioeconomy,” said Ian Dunn, President and CEO of the Ontario Forest Industries Association. “This action plan provides a road map for the sector’s next five years, and a long-term vision for biomass in Ontario. This is the start of a new era, and the forest industries are excited to see what’s next for this renewable, environmentally friendly resource.”

The development of the action plan was supported by a diverse working group with diverse interests in forest biomass, including Indigenous partners, businesses and associations.

“With the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory taking significant steps forward towards the development of a 150,000 tonne wood pellet plant in the Sudbury region, Wiikwemkoong looks forward to Ontario’s announcement of the Forest Biomass Action Plan and the implementation of the action items within the plan,” said John Manitowabi, Director of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory.

“This plan will support Wiikwemkoong in achieving its goal of the use of forest biomass as a greener solution for local community heating fuel sources and supporting the creation of jobs for the plant itself and the additional forest sector jobs that will be required to move the underutilized and unmerchantable biomass within the Forest Units of Sudbury, Spanish and the Northshore.”

The final plan includes feedback and input from Indigenous communities and the public after a significant consultation process.

“Biofuels have the potential to play an important role in decarbonizing the steel industry in Canada with a substantial challenge in securing sustainable supply of biomass,” said Catherine Cobden, President and CEO of the Canadian Steel Producers Association. “Forest biomass is an ideal feedstock to produce the high quality biocarbon needed. This Action Plan is a first step on the road to identifying biomass availability and the potential supply chains to meet our industry’s needs.”

To learn more about Ontario’s Forest Biomass Action Plan, visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/forest-biomass-action-plan

Ontario Government