Ontario’s Draft Forest Biomass Action Plan

ERO number
019-3514
Notice type
Policy
Posted by
Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
May 6, 2021 - June 21, 2021 (47 days) Closed
Last updated

There is no requirement to post this notice on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, but we wanted to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your feedback.

This consultation was open from:
May 6, 2021
to June 21, 2021

Decision summary

Ontario’s Forest Biomass Action Plan has been revised and approved following review of comments and feedback received through the Environmental Registry of Ontario, outreach to forest sector stakeholders, and consultation and engagement with Indigenous communities and organizations.

Decision details

We have decided to proceed with a revised Forest Biomass Action Plan, which aims to support economic development in Ontario by enhancing the use of underutilized forest resources (mill by-products and underutilized forest biofibre).

Aspects of the plan have been updated in response to input received during consultation and engagement processes, but the plan’s five main objectives have remained from the draft version published.

The decision to proceed with the revised action plan was made on March 29, 2022.

Comments received

Through the registry

1,262

By email

15

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Comments and feedback provided on the draft Forest Biomass Action Plan (FBAP) covered a wide range of topics relating to aspects of the emerging forest bioeconomy and use of forest biomass. Based on comments received through the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) and a result of consultation and engagement, several adjustments were made to the text of the plan, including:

  • the definition of forest biomass provided in the FBAP
  • descriptions of the current forest biomass supply chain
  • Rercognition of the importance of collaboration and partnership in growing the forest bioeconomy
  • increased commentary on sustainable forest management and the role of forest biomass in the forest carbon cycle
  • adjustments to FBAP actions and indicators
  • other small editorial changes

Upon review and analysis of all comments received through the ERO, three broad comment themes were identified:

Environmental considerations for use of forest biomass

Most comments received through the public engagement process raised concerns about the environmental aspects of forest biomass use. Comments indicated widespread perception that biomass use (particularly use of wood pellets) results in damage to ecosystems and wildlife habitat, increased emissions of greenhouse gases and harmful pollutants, as well as deforestation and removal of forest cover as a result of harvesting. Calls to increase protected forest areas, to preserve old growth forest, and to oppose clear-cut harvesting were heavily represented in this theme.

Other comments received under this theme also pointed to the positive contributions forest biomass use can make to environmental objectives and priorities. Calls to recognize the carbon mitigation and forest management benefits of replacing non-renewables with forest biomass were also included within this theme.

Our response

Ontario is home to a world-class sustainable forest policy framework which provides for the ongoing sustainability of the province’s forests and works to maintain and improve forest health. As an extension of this framework, the FBAP will work to identify and act on new uses for forest biomass while upholding and encouraging sound stewardship of the province’s forests.

As a strategic document aimed at increasing economic opportunities and sustainability of the forest sector, the FBAP is positioned to help achieve the province’s environmental objectives and priorities, including emissions reductions, and offsetting the use of fossil fuels and other non-renewables. To provide additional context on how forest biomass fits within Ontario’s sustainable forest policy framework and the forest carbon cycle, new text additions have been made to the revised FBAP.

Technical considerations for bioproducts and biomass technologies

This theme covered a range of bioproducts and conversion technologies. Both established and advanced/emerging bioproducts were raised under this theme, however, most comments addressed considerations for the production and use of wood pellets. Specifically, many raised particular concern over the sustainability of pellet feedstocks and the use of wood pellets to produce electricity.

Other comments under this theme provided input on how to advance forest biomass use, including in the areas of regulatory burden reduction, strategic investment/development, and existing bioenergy facilities, among others.

Our response

The FBAP has been developed in consideration of a wide range of forest biomass feedstocks and forest bioproducts, including established bioproduct markets and newer applications for underutilized material. Actions in the plan are aimed at a range of market pathways for forest biomass feedstocks, including but not limited to, wood pellets.

Many of the initial actions in the draft FBAP are centered around identifying feasible pathways for mill by-products and forest biofibre. Determining which products can be economically and sustainably made from available forest biomass feedstocks will help to inform next steps and subsequent actions in the plan. Some adjustments have been made to the action plan to better clarify what materials are considered forest biomass and how feedstocks are converted into forest bioproducts.

Opportunities and benefits of local forest biomass use

Comments in this theme pointed to the socio-economic benefits of increased forest biomass use and identified local opportunities to make use of available wood and support community development through use of forest biomass. Comments received under this category identified opportunities for forest biomass use and commercialization in all regions of the province.

Our response

A key motivation for the development of the FBAP was interest in securing jobs, supporting economic growth, and developing a better understanding of the role that forest biomass use plays in the overall sustainability of the forest sector. The five objectives and 28 actions included in the final version of the plan outline steps the province will take to unlock Ontario’s forest biomass potential in all the province’s forest regions. Additional commentary has been added to the plan underscoring the importance of collaboration and partnership with Indigenous communities to realize future growth in the sector.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

MNRF – FID – Forest Economics Section
Address

70 Foster Drive
Suite 400
Sault Ste Marie, ON
P6A 6V5
Canada

Connect with us

Contact

Karen Jackson

Phone number
Email address
Office
MNRF – FID – Forest Economics Section
Address

70 Foster Drive
Suite 400
Sault Ste Marie, ON
P6A 6V5
Canada

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Follow this notice

Original proposal

ERO number
019-3514
Notice type
Policy
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

May 6, 2021 - June 21, 2021 (47 days)

Why consultation isn't required

The draft Forest Biomass Action Plan is not environmentally significant and is considered a voluntary posting. There are policies and procedures in place to guide the sustainable use of these resources. Any required policy updates identified within the action plan would be addressed through separate, future Environmental Registry of Ontario postings.

Proposal details

Ontario’s Draft Forest Biomass Action Plan

Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy is being implemented to sustainably grow the forest sector to create opportunity and prosperity for thousands of Ontario families, while encouraging innovation and investment in the industry.

As an outcome of the Forest Sector Strategy, Ontario is committed to putting a Forest Biomass Action Plan in place that secures jobs and encourages sustainability in the forestry sector, while supporting economic development through the use of mill by-products and forest biofibre. By supporting the use of forest biomass, specifically mill by-products and forest biofibre, this action plan will assist in achieving Forest Sector Strategy goals to the benefit of the province’s forest industry, heavy industries (e.g., steel, cement, lime), Indigenous communities/organizations, rural and remote communities and the Government of Ontario.

This draft action plan was developed in collaboration with a working group comprised of partners from across the forest biomass supply chain. Discussions with the working group revealed challenges and opportunities associated with the use of forest biomass in Ontario that are reflected in this draft.

Objectives

The draft Forest Biomass Action Plan identifies five objectives that will contribute towards the broader goals of job creation, economic development and a sustainable forest sector. Each objective is associated with a set of actions, 29 in total, that will be pursued over the five-year term of the action plan:

  • identify pathways to markets for forest biomass
  • support demand for forest bioenergy and bioproducts
  • improve the business and regulatory environments for the use of forest biomass
  • support holistic, culturally relevant pathways for Indigenous community involvement in forest biomass value chains to support reconciliation between Indigenous communities and the Crown
  • communicate, collaborate, and inform on forest biomass opportunities

Anticipated Results

Following the closing of this posting, feedback and comments will be collected and applied to the draft Forest Biomass Action Plan, where applicable, before finalizing the document. The feedback received from the public, Indigenous communities and forest industry stakeholders will help to create a well-informed, final action plan that considers varied perspectives.

Successfully finalizing and implementing the Forest Biomass Action Plan will play an important role in building a resilient forest sector that encourages innovative uses of forest biomass that contribute to the province’s environmental and economic objectives.

Public Consultation Opportunities

In addition to making the draft Forest Biomass Action Plan open for comments, emails and letters will be sent to Indigenous communities and representatives within or adjacent to the managed forest and Far North. The Ministry will engage with interested First Nations and Métis communities on key elements of the plan.

For more information or to view related documents regarding the draft Forest Biomass Action Plan please use the contact information posted below for assistance.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.

MNRF – FID – Forest Economics Section
Address

70 Foster Drive
Suite 400
Sault Ste Marie, ON
P6A 6V5
Canada

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from May 6, 2021
to June 21, 2021

Connect with us

Contact

Karen Jackson

Phone number
Email address
Office
MNRF – FID – Forest Economics Section
Address

70 Foster Drive
Suite 400
Sault Ste Marie, ON
P6A 6V5
Canada