A publication from the Montreal Economic Institute highlights the role of the forest industry in the circular economy


Ongoing innovations in the forest industry have helped the industry increase its contribution to the fight against climate change, according to a publication from the Montreal Economic Institute. The publication, co-authored by Olivier Rancourt and Miguel Ouellette presents an overview of some of the innovations implemented by the forest industry.

“In recent years, the forest industry has become a player in the circular economy. For example, a greenhouse complex in Saint-Félicien uses waste heat from an adjacent pulp mill to reduce its energy costs, which corresponds to the removal of 2,000 vehicles from the roads of Quebec. To take another example, some companies now convert more than 90 percent of certain types of sawmill residue into organic agricultural fertilizers, ”explains Rancourt, economist at the MEI and co-author of the publication. “The forest industry has adapted to current realities and can clearly contribute to decarbonization.

“We must not ignore the fact that a healthy forest industry can also maximize carbon capture by our forests. This is an important and often overlooked aspect of the fight against climate change, ”says Ouellette, director of operations and economist at the MEI. “By harvesting mature trees, we prevent them from decaying and releasing all the carbon accumulated throughout their life into the atmosphere, and we allow young trees to capture the carbon they need to grow. of Quebec forests continue to renew themselves faster than they are harvested. In addition, it should be noted that insect defoliation causes many more trees to fall in Quebec than any human activity.

“The use of modern technologies also allows the industry to better plan and optimize the forest harvest in order to obtain the best wood for the sawmills,” adds Ouellette. “We must not lose sight of the fact that this industry represented eight percent of of Quebec total exports in 2020, and that wood processing activities generated three percent of our GDP and some 30,000 jobs in 2019. Its economic importance is considerable, and it is an absolutely vital industry for many rural areas of Quebec», Concludes the economist.

The publication “Forestry: A Sector That Continues to Innovate” is available here.

The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent think tank on public policy. Through its publications, media appearances and advisory services to policy makers, the MEI stimulates debate and reform of public policies based on established principles of market economy and entrepreneurship.

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