Optimism and Cooperation: A Report From the Montreal Wood Convention

It’s great to be representing the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and exhibiting at the first-ever Montreal Wood Convention, which is being held at the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal this week.

There is a nostalgic sense to this event, as it’s being held on the same date and location as the historic Canadian Lumbermen’s Association’s last convention in 2008, its 100-year anniversary as an association.

The collaborative efforts of The Maritime Bureau, The Quebec Wood Export Bureau, The Quebec Forest Industry Council and the Ontario Forest Industries Association managed to revive this once-popular conference. They’ve successfully gathered 20 exhibitors and over 400 attendees to discuss various topics within the forest products sector. Attendees include mills, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and other related forest product companies and organizations.

The mood is energetic, and the industry reunion is said by many to be long overdue. The many smiling faces at the conference, some old and some new, can be attributed to the positive outlook of the lumber industry.

With U.S. housing starts on the rise, many of the speakers are optimistic about the future of the industry. There has been such a decrease in lumber production over the past five years that anything over 1 million housing starts can be considered quite healthy. The law of supply and demand continues to dictate this market and at the moment, the equilibrium between the two seems to be favoring demand.

I was pleased to hear Frank Dottori, former CEO of Tembec, stress the importance of working with first nations in our forests across Canada. SFI works closely with first nations to support sustainable forestry on lands owned by aboriginal communities. We agree with Frank that much work is still needed, but we’re proud of the progress we’ve made in collaboration with stakeholders in those areas.

I’m also pleased that so many attendees expressed appreciation that SFI was present and exhibiting at this conference. This holds especially true for the Quebec residents who will be experiencing the first-ever provincial tenure reform certification takeover, which is scheduled for April 1, 2013. The Ministry of Natural Resources in Quebec will assume the responsibility for certifying all public forests, and estimated volumes for SFI are projected at over 50% of the province — making Quebec the largest certified area via a program participant. This is yet another example of the growing importance of forest certification as a tool to promote sustainable forestry management.

At SFI, we appreciate the opportunity to work with government, business, environmental, academic and community leaders to ensure that the actions we take today will contribute to healthy forests tomorrow — and for generations to come.

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