Eastern Chamber of Commerce Promotes Resource Development!
Recognizing that our primary resources have always been the mainstays of our economy, the EPEICC has been looking for new ways to increase development. We started thinking about the “forestry sector”, as we have more woodland in the east than the rest of the Island combined, and much is underutilized, says Board Member, Pat Binns. To get the ball rolling, Chamber Directors sponsored a meeting in January with a small group of woodlot owners to discuss ideas which would might bring more value to our woodlots. While the discussions recognized the continuing low prices and obstacles to development, some great ideas were discussed. Most were interested in “biomass heating systems” and their potential, especially if small woodlot owners, using sustainable harvest methods, were used. The new District system in Tignish was highlighted as were other projects in Summerside and Charlottetown. As there are few biomass installations in the east, follow up was agreed upon. Other ideas promoted included the following: * nut trees plantations such as black walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans. * non-timbered forest products including sugar maple * small mill opportunities for hardwood flooring and live edging products. * agroforestry opportunities such as using willow extracts for medicinal purposes * more milling capacity and kiln drying * studying European small scale forestry practice
Participants generally agreed that a Marketing Structure that supported the small woodlot owner would enable owners to generate more income and expand sustainable activity. As a result, next steps include looking at the potential for a woodlot owner's cooperative or similar structure.
Discussions on the biomass opportunity have continued. The Town of Montague, along with their Economic Development group is doing a feasibility study on using biomass heat for municipal, Government, community and commercial facilities. A project is in early stage consideration for the Belfast area and interest is also being shown in the Souris area.
Russ Compton, current President of the Chamber, and a long time woodlot owner, urged anyone interested in a marketing structure controlled by woodlot owners, to contact the Chamber office or the PEI Woodlot Owners Association. A follow-up meeting will be held in the near future.