Forestry’s Future is More Than its Past!


Green Pepsi BottleTHUNDER BAY – It is, for those willing to look beneath the story, it is a further indication of the impact of changing technology. Ontario is reducing the amount of paper and office equipment the government uses, with an eye to saving millions of taxpayer dollars. Over the next two years, the government will save $15.6 million by eliminating more than 15,000 printers and computer servers saving $8 million. That’s almost a 50 per cent reduction.

Two of the goals are;

1. Cutting paper usage by 50 per cent saving $7 million.

2. Reducing the number of office fax machines by centralizing them, saving $640,000.

In addition, the government has reduced the number of daily news packages it prints by 96 per cent over the past six years, saving more than $1.5 million. They will be eliminated entirely by the end of March. This will save Ontario nearly $600,000 each year in paper and printing costs and save almost 5,000 trees compared to 2004 when approximately 41.5 million pages were printed annually.

“Reducing spending on paper and office equipment is part of our commitment to find savings while ensuring 13 million Ontarians continue to be provided with the high quality services they deserve,” stated Dwight Duncan, the Minister of Finance.

Changes in technology are likely to mean that in the forest sector the goal will have to be alternative uses of wood. That is where efforts ongoing from the Ontario Government in allocation of wood fibre are important.

Without that shift of existing wood fibre, toward more modern uses, we are likely not to see significant changes in the forestry sector.

Changes in the forestry are more likely to come with innovation. For example, in the United States, Pepsi has just introduced a new bottle. That bottle is composed not of plastics made from petroleum, but rather from bio materials including pine bark.

Research across Northwestern Ontario, primarily fueled out of Lakehead University will be a boon to our region as we start making the transition from trees for paper into other uses, including bio-fuel and replacements for petroleum packaging.

Just as the era of newsprint is fading, and has pounded our region’s economy, the era of petroleum will fade too. Our region, and our leaders must position our region not where things are, but rather where they will be in the future.

It means taking a great number of decisions that right now might appear more risky. However without risk-taking our region will never be at the leading edge of anything.

Over the past several years there have been announcements promoting research at Lakehead University. Those research dollars have the potential to make our future even brighter than in the past.

It is likely that some of the hardships so many have experienced, will almost seem worth it, if in the future our young people can, and do benefit from the ever changing economic opportunities.

James Murray

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