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Province Plants Seeds For Future Bio-Energy Harvests

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Province Plants Seeds For Future Bio-Energy Harvests

Research Initiative Envisions Fields Of New Forests In Northern Ontario

SAULT STE. MARIE - The McGuinty government is supporting the future establishment of tree plantations for the production of bio-energy throughout the North, Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti announced today on behalf of Northern Development and Mines Minister Rick Bartolucci.

"We understand the great potential this research project has for the future of the bioenergy industry in Northern Ontario," said Orazietti. "Our government's investment will assist in furthering our understanding of how to maximize the use of existing vacant lands to create and efficiently manage tree plantations as sources of energy and bioproducts."

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), through its Infrastructure and Community Development Program, is providing more than $203,500 to help the Upper Lakes Environmental Research Network establish research sites to determine the economic viability of establishing fast-growing tree plantations on underutilized agricultural land throughout Northern Ontario.     

The three-year research program will focus on developing innovative solutions to increase production and reduce operating costs. If feasible, plantations will cultivate trees or other plants that can be harvested to produce fibres for the production of energy.  ULERN will be working with partners across the North, including scientists from Natural Resources Canada, communities and forest industry to establish, monitor and harvest these plantations.  "We're hoping that these plantations will help answer the North's need for lower cost, reliable and renewable energy in the future," said the network's director Margo Shaw.

"The prospect of cultivating sources of wood fibre on vacant farm land is a compelling one for those who see the potential it holds for the development of northern industry," said Bartolucci, who also chairs the NOHFC.  "The McGuinty government is hopeful that researchers will come up with imaginative approaches that will plant the seeds for another wood fibre industry in communities throughout the North.

This is just one more example of how, working together, Ontarians have achieved results in support of sustainable northern economic development.  Other examples include:

  • Providing $6 million to Lakehead University to build capacity that will support competitive and sustainable development of Ontario's boreal forest;
  • Providing $355,974 to Lakehead University, in partnership with Bowater Canadian Forest Products and the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada, for the development of new testing apparatus that would measure the polluting effects of pulp and paper mill waste water
  • Creating the $22 million Forestry Sector Prosperity Fund
  • Contributing $60 million to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to support job creation and emerging technologies.

These initiatives are part of the government's Northern Prosperity Plan for building stronger northern communities. It has four pillars: Strengthening the North and its Communities; Listening to and Serving Northerners Better; Competing Globally; and Providing Opportunities for All.

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