Joint action plan will benefit people in B.C., Finland

Jun 02, 2022

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As B.C. moves forward with the recently released Mass Timber Action Plan, the Province has signed a significant agreement with Finland to continue collaboration on research, advancement, development and commercialization of the forest bioeconomy and mass timber.

The letter of intent was signed between B.C.’s Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation and Finland’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Forestry. The agreement is a key part of the European trade mission by Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, and another step in the Province’s StrongerBC Economic Plan.

“We are entering a new world with a fast-changing global economy, and I’m determined to have B.C. right at the forefront,” said Kahlon. “Like B.C., Finland is a leader in sustainable forestry and through collaboration and sharing cutting-edge construction technology, we will grow B.C.’s mass timber sector to build new homes and buildings and ensure workers and communities benefit for generations to come.”

The forest bioeconomy uses sustainably managed forest material (forest biomass) to make bioproducts such as consumer goods and industrial products. Forest biomass can be any forest material from trees, to shrubs, to berries. Developing a B.C.-based bioeconomy helps create new bioproducts that can replace petroleum-based products. It also helps create good-paying jobs for people who want to work in the sector.

“About half of Finland's bioeconomy industry consists of the forest industry, which has been the mainstay of the Finnish economy for centuries. Finland's success is based on a deep understanding of the entire bioproduct value chain, world-class research and integration of cross-disciplinary sciences,” said Tom Nyberg, Honorary Consul of Finland to B.C. and Yukon. “Taken the many similarities between Finland and B.C., increased collaboration will foster further innovation and reduce dependency on fossil fuels and other non-renewable raw materials in both countries. Finland’s new Bioeconomy Strategy aims to double the value added by the bioeconomy in a sustainable manner and to make Finland climate neutral by 2035.”

The Mass Timber Action Plan outlines how B.C. will revolutionize the construction industry, help create a low-carbon future, and position B.C. to be a global leader in mass-timber research, engineering innovation and production. The Mass Timber Action Plan is a road map to grow the industry, create good jobs and support communities by partnering with Indigenous communities, training new workers and modernizing regulations, as well as promoting mass timber to markets in Canada and around the world.

“This is a very exciting time to work together with Finland on developing and strengthening innovation in the forest sector, with our shared focus on sustainable and value-added products,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “By replacing products made from non-renewable sources like petrochemicals, we can boost the role of our forests in helping to fight climate change while creating new opportunities for workers and communities.”

As part of the Mass Timber Demonstration Program, B.C. has announced funding for four new mass timber projects that range from multi-family homes to mixed-use commercial and industrial buildings. Mass timber buildings can be engineered for strength by fastening together layers of smaller-dimension wood with glue, dowels or nails. This process can deliver as much as seven times the economic value when compared to milling logs for lumber. 

Mass timber can match or exceed the structural performance of concrete and steel while reducing carbon emissions by as much as 45%. Also, since the components are custom-manufactured, it can reduce waste and cut the time it takes to put up a building.

The Mass Timber Action Plan is designed to build demand for mass timber buildings. In addition, boosting the sector’s skills training through trades programs at post-secondary institutions will help fill an anticipated 4,400 additional job openings in manufacturing, construction and design.

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