FORT ST. JAMES, B.C. — B.C. is helping companies breathe new life into dead wood.
A company that transforms trees damaged by mountain pine beetles and other elements into value-added engineered wood products is expanding, thanks to a funding boost from the province.
Deadwood Innovations, a joint venture with the Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation, has received $200,000 over the past two years to support the creation of jobs in rural communities, and to accelerate Indigenous participation in the forest sector.
Deadwood Innovations has used the funding to assess, engineer, procure and build a pilot-scale manufacturing plant at the site of the former Tl’Oh Forest Products mill in Fort St. James. The funding is provided through the Indigenous Forest Bioeconomy Program.
Officials stated they are working alongside Deadwood Innovations to finalize new funding so it can commercially produce engineered wood products in its facility through the new accelerator stream of the Indigenous Forest Bioeconomy Program.
The plant design is scheduled to start in September 2022. Deadwood Innovation’s facility will process low-quality, damaged and underutilized fibre into products.
The province said this approach is building new market opportunities by producing engineered wood products that can be customized to meet specifications for industrial wood products and solid biomass fuels. The use of forest waste also decreases the need for slash pile burning, reducing carbon emissions.
The forest bioeconomy is focused on using materials left over from logging and forestry, such as bark, shrubs, branches and berries, to make everyday products. The province stated this helps shift the forest sector to a high-value, waste-free circular economy that reduces the use of petrochemical-based products and helps fight climate change.
“Deadwood Innovations and our partners have the expertise and technology needed to modernize B.C.’s forestry industry and create new opportunities in communities like Fort St. James,” said Owen Miller, Deadwood Innovations president, in a statement. “Programs like the Indigenous Forest Bioeconomy Program and its new accelerator stream help fill a gap in start-up funding that is needed for ventures like ours to bring these new products to market.”