The Director General of Strategic Policy and Planning (DGSPP) took a new direction with the stock delivery methods used for large tree plants but the implications of which were far reaching and solutions to new challenges are currently being developed. Also, this article shines light on the debate surrounding biomass and the pressure that environmental groups are putting on the industry.
Since summer 2010, reforestation companies have implemented modifications to their work methods. The Director General of Strategic Policy and Planning (DGSPP) has taken a new direction with the stock delivery methods used for large tree plants: companies will now be receiving their large plants in their original boxes instead of in the cases that they have become accustomed to receiving.
By eliminating the step of transferring the plants from boxes to cases, the DGSPP aimed to deliver a higher quality plant at their arrival on site, as well as to reduce production costs. However, on site, the repercussions of this change were not anticipated and were far reaching. In fact, companies reported reduced productivity in the process of plant manipulation from the plants arrival to their delivery to the planters’ depot.
As a result the Bureau of Marketing of Wood followed up by mandating a team to complete a study of the grounds and to document this new challenge and its impacts. Five Quebec-based companies (from Abitibi, Lac St. Jean, and the St. Maurice River regions) participated in the collection of information for the studies.
The study allowed researches to identify the impacts of new methods of transporting plants to companies, by measuring the loss of productivity and the increase in costs linked to increased labour and machinery requirements. They found that the number of return trips made to deliver plants to the foresters increased due to the reduced quantity of plants transported in containers rather than boxes. The effect was the same when measured against the area plants occupied on transport trailers.
Sensitive to the issue, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Fauna is working on a solution in order to help companies better plan their resources and adapt their transportation practices to be more feasible for large-sized tree plants.
Forest biomass in the center of a heated debate
Last November, the environmental organization Greenpeace published the report “From Biomass to Biomascarade” on the use of forest biomass for energy purposes, and in which Greenpeace calls upon provincial and federal governments to not launch head first into this new form of energy.
To stir up public discussion and to allow for a response to this document, a meeting has taken place between the author of the Greenpeace report, Mr. Nicolas Mainville, and university professor Mr. Patrice Mangin, who is very active in the sector of pulp and paper. Nearly a hundred people had the pleasure of hearing the duo plead their cases during a dinner-debate held on December 14, organized jointly by the Forestry Association of the Saint Maurice Valley and the Alliance of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mauricie Region.
While one is concerned about the goodwill of the forestry industry’s proper use of forestry resources and doubts the added value of this new energy source, the other insists that the principles of sustainable development will be respected and advocates for a model of employing a cocktail of renewable energies, including the use of forest biomass.
Several points of debate were at the heart of the discussions: forest conservation and the respect for allowable cuts, the total quantity of energy produced, and the creation of wealth and jobs, even the concept of carbon neutral activity was questioned.
It’s clear that the debate is far from over, and only the future will tell how the bioenergy industry, that hope to carve out a place in the energy industry, will cope with the pressure from environmental groups like Greenpeace.