July 3, 2006

Leading forestry research groups prepare to unite as single entity

Canada's three leading forestry research institutes are preparing to amalgamate into a single entity to spearhead their activities, capitalize on the special strengths of each member organization and foster an integrated approach to research and development in this sector. FERIC, the Forest Industry Research Institute of Canada, Forintek and Paprican voted on June 20 in favour of creating the new structure.

Citing the challenges of high energy prices, increasing globalization, the value of the Canadian dollar, and restrictions on available fibre combined with greater availability of low-cost foreign fibre, FERIC chairman Don Banks said, "One of the goals of the Single Institute proposal is to come up with an organization conducive to even greater efficiency and capacity in innovation and research and development to address these challenges."

"Our three Institutes are all engaged in research relevant to forest products and technology and many of our members hold membership in one, two or all three of the Institutes," said Forintek chairman Phil Latos. "Our objective is to ensure that FERIC, Forintek, and Paprican research teams continue to play a leading role in the restructuring of Canada's forest products industry.

"Teaming up," he continued, "would allow the industry to benefit from synergies and facilitate the development of an integrated approach to research and development in the Canadian Forest Sector as well as be in the best possible position to play a leading role at the global level."

Frank Dottori, chairman of Paprican, reinforced this view, observing that, "with the creation of this single Institute we will be in a position to speak with a stronger common voice on forest sector issues. I am confident that this new structure will also allow us to attract new members and increase the overall financial support for research and development in the forest sector," he added.

The Institutes will be working together to develop an integration plan which will be presented to their respective members for final approval in the next six months.

FERIC works to improve Canadian forestry operations related to the harvesting and transportation of wood, and the growing of trees, within a framework of sustainable development. Its research program is developed with the guidance of regional advisory committees that include representatives of all members and partners. Continuing feedback helps address the broad spectrum of technical problems encountered during the planning and implementation of all aspects of forestry operations.

Forintek is Canada's national wood products research institute, dedicated to developing scientific and technical knowledge, application and techniques to enhance the competitiveness of its members and the Canadian wood products sector. Based on priorities set by its industry and government members, it delivers technological advances in areas such as lumber, panels and other value-added wood products, manufacturing processes or attributes, drying and protection, and building systems. Forintek also conducts market and economic studies and plays a key role in the development of building codes and standards, both nationally and internationally.

Paprican, the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada, is a leading not-for-profit research and technology institute. Its research programs are driven by the industry's high-priority technical issues such as environment and sustainability, product quality and value, and cost competitiveness. Internationally recognized for excellence, Paprican operates laboratories in Quebec and British Columbia.

More information is available from Terry Knee FERIC, 514/694-1140, E-mail terry-k@mtl.feric.ca; Norine Young of Forintek's western division, 604/224-3221, E-mail norine@van.forintek.ca or André Proulx of its eastern division, 418/659-2647, E-mail andre.proulx@qc.forintek.ca; or Anne-Josée Laquerre at Paprican, 514/630-4122, E-mail alaquerre@paprican.ca.

In other forest research activities, the federal government has committed $3.3 million over three years to leading-edge sustainable forest management projects in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and New Brunswick. Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, who has responsibility for Canada's Networks of Centres of Excellence, also announced a continued investment of $1.2 million in Quebec research projects for the next three years.

The funding announcements coincided with the opening of the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Network's fourth scientific conference, which drew more than 300 participants to Edmonton. The event provided a forum for presenting latest developments in integrated land management, evolution of sustainable forest-dependent communities, water management strategies, public participation in planning processes, natural disturbance management and emulation, climate change adaptation, and tenure reform.

The SFM Network, which is part of the Networks of Centres of Excellence, facilitates applied research partnerships among 32 industry, government, Aboriginal, and non-government partners in supporting the work of more than 190 researchers. In addition to the federal government's support, academic, industry and non-government partners contribute about $2 million in cash and in-kind every year to the SFM Network's activities. Projects supported by the SFM Network may be viewed on-line at www.sfmnetwork.ca.

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