In 2023, Canada experienced its worst wildfire season on record, posing threats to lives and significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions. During the high fire years of 2017, 2018 and 2021, B.C. wildfires alone emitted 150-200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
One of the strategies to reduce the intensity of wildfires is tree thinning, but this results in more forest residues and flammable deadfall. Historically, B.C. has burned about 4.6 million green metric tonnes of forest residue annually, further increasing emissions.
Unfortunately elevating commercial interest in forest residues is challenging due to limited economic value, rugged terrain, and transportation distances, often resulting in slash piles that are burned on site.
Today the B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE) announced a $2.6 million investment to advance innovative solutions that can reduce emissions or create new clean energy feedstocks, while also addressing the pressing challenge of sustainably managing wood waste and increasing wildfire resiliency within British Columbia.
This non-dilutive funding will fast-track the commercialization and scaling of solutions across the entire forest residue management value chain, including collection, transportation, processing and end-use.
“One of our greatest tools for supporting a circular economy is wood biomass,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests.
“That’s why I was thrilled to hear about this incredible investment from CICE. This will help get more forest residue that would have previously gone to waste, in the hands of manufacturers. Actions like this show all of us that organizations like CICE are walking the walk when it comes to building a greener, more sustainable and resilient British Columbia for generations to come.”
This call for innovation invites B.C.-based companies to propose solutions and commercial pathways to increase resilience in B.C. forests. This includes strengthening the forest residue management value chain, diversifying wood waste utilization opportunities, and reducing carbon emissions.
“CICE is dedicated to intelligent risk taking that advances innovation throughout the entire forest residue management value chain,” explained Todd Sayers, Chief Operating Officer of the B.C. Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy.
“This commitment is strongly influenced by the escalating wildfire threats on B.C. communities and the alarming estimations that emissions from Canada’s 2023 summer season have tripled our annual carbon footprint. We are proud to inject $2.6M and catalyze over $37 million in regional forest management projects that have high potential for scalability.”