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Collaboration attests to the importance of maintaining sustainable forests

September 29, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Pavilons

The importance of Canada’s forests can not be understated.
In fact, forestry and forest products are integral to the economic, social and environmental health of our citizens.
The strong symbiotic relationship to our forests was stressed by an expert panel during a livestreamed discussion hosted by the Kingbridge Innovation Hub.
Kingbridge Centre and Forests Ontario are partnering to accelerate innovative solutions that contribute to the growth of the Ontario and Canadian forest industry and the related economic and community activities including among others large scale tree planting and forest management.
They will work together to develop and implement these key solutions using technology, research and education to address the risks caused by human impact on our climate.
By working with new technologies, data, and methodologies, they will enhance and augment activities that contribute to genetic preservation, endemic species management, seed collection opportunities, which in turn supports an increase in capacity to plant trees.
The two organizations will also work on developing a national forest restoration tracking tool, implementing novel technology to improve reporting on forest survival. Forests Ontario’s community engagement tree planting program, Take Root, will also benefit from this collaboration through cross promotion.
Malcolm Cockwell, president of Forests Ontario, and Prashant Pathak, Chair of Kingbridge Centre and Innovation Hub, sparked the conversation and awareness to viewers during the event last week.
“Forests Ontario is thrilled to be partnering with Kingbridge Centre,” said Malcolm Cockwell. “By working together with our unique sets of skills and expertise, we will make big strides in the areas of large-scale tree planting and forest management.”
Forests Ontario’s contributions to the collaboration include over a decade of tree planting experience. As the leading non-profit for afforestation tree planting, Forests Ontario has a vast network of partnerships with seed collectors, nurseries, tree planters, and others like conservation authorities, governments and First Nations, all of which bring crucial knowledge to the table for advancing innovation in the field.
“This partnership is of utmost importance to Kingbridge Centre and the Innovation Hub at Kingbridge. It is a cornerstone as our team works to curate, develop and scale solutions and businesses that will contribute towards mitigating the adverse social and economic effects of climate change,” said Pathak. “Forests are a well-known and critical part of the nature-based solutions that we need to fight climate change. We look forward to working together on new technologies to increase forest cover and to enhancing the contribution that the forest sector has for a more prosperous and healthy Ontario.”
Rob Keen, Executive Director of Forests Ontario, lauded the new partnership, noting all efforts help FO in being the “voice of our forests.”

The bigger picture

Cockwell stressed Canada’s forest inventory is so vast, it makes our country a “superpower” when it comes to forestry.
Forests, he pointed out, are part of an intricate eco-fabric that includes water, air, soil and wildlife habitat. They all act together in harmony in this perfect “biological machinery.”
Pathak confirmed that Canada is in the top 10 countries globally in terms of managed forests. This, he said, means Canada has a significant role to play, economically and geo-politically.
Cockwell observed that some 200,000 jobs across Canada are tied to forests and products, from planting trees to consumer products. It’s a fundamental part of our economy and the supply chain. Forest products run the gamut in everything from railway ties and shipping pallets to edible items and cardboard packaging.
Pathak added that the lifeblood of many communities in rural Canada depend on forestry. The industry reaches far beyond merely the consumptive part.
The extraction efforts work hand in hand with sustainability, and forests also provide tourism opportunities and a chance for urban residents to connect to nature.
Pathak noted that new opportunities are arising all the time. Using forest products for natural sweeteners, and using pulp-based fibres for textiles are growing in popularity. This, he says, could end up being bigger than cotton-based products.
The uses and opportunities are almost limitless and using low quality wood is also part of sustainable forests.
Keen added it’s amazing just how integrated forest products are. To secure our future, improving forest cover will create a healthy environment and this ensures a healthy society and economy.
Pathak said forests figure prominently in solving the climate change dilemma.
Getting the word out ­ ­ –  increasing awareness­ – is key to getting Canadians at all levels on board. Pathak said it’s a matter of connecting all the dots on a day-to-day level.
Cockwell said Canadians should be proud of the fact our forests are among the best managed in the world.
He said the path forward is pretty clear – get more trees in the ground.
Work by FO, along with other public and private initiatives, are helping. The federal government’s proposal to plant some two billion trees is a start but to really make a difference, the number has to be 10 times that, according to Pathak.
“The best time to plant trees was 20 years ago,” he said. “The second best time is today.”
Keen pointed out the logistics of planting even two billion trees is complex. It involves everything from seeds, nurseries, securing proper species, planting, working with landowners, and monitoring the results. It’s a huge integration and coordination of all sectors.
The infrastructure needs to be in place to ensure success, Cockwell stressed. To that end, partnerships like the one between FO and Kingbridge will go a long way.
“This partnership will give us the yardstick on things,” Keen said.
Kingbridge Centre will bring their proficiency in innovation and commercializing of innovative ideas to the forefront by offering new research and technologies to create inventive solutions. The Innovation Hub’s ability to develop, test, and scale ways to increase tree planting capacity will be an important part of the partnership.
Pathak said there are many things that can be done at the local level. Leveraging expertise, gathering knowledge and using these at the municipal level to help make informed decisions, will further the goals.
Organizations interested in the work that Forests Ontario and Kingbridge Centre are undertaking should contact Karen Dubeau at
Visit to find out more.



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