Whitecourt, Alberta — Millar Western marked a forest renewal milestone on September 30th, 2016: the planting of its 200 millionth tree seedling. To commemorate the achievement, company employees, along with Chairman Mac Millar and President & CEO Craig Armstrong, unveiled a plaque and planted a tree near the site where Millar Western began its Alberta forest operations, nearly a century ago.
Joining them for the ceremony were the Honourable Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry; Jon Carson, MLA, Edmonton-Meadowlark; Mayor of Whitecourt Maryann Chichak; Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation; and other guests.
Millar Western planted the 200 million trees over the span of nearly 40 years, after assuming responsibility for managing its forest areas from the Alberta government in 1977. In reflecting on the accomplishment, Mr. Millar noted his family’s long history in the forest sector.
“During our many decades in business, we have witnessed, first-hand, the benefits of sustainable forestry,” said Mr. Millar. “We have seen harvested areas returned to healthy forests that support biodiversity and other environmental values, as well as the economic well-being of thousands of Albertans and dozens of communities across our province.”
In helping company employees and partners mark the reforestation milestone, Minister Carlier noted Alberta’s reliance on responsible development. “Our province is blessed with abundant natural resources, including healthy and productive forests. Making building materials, pulp and paper, green energy and other products from the renewable forest resource, in an environmentally sound way, benefits all Albertans,” said Mr. Carlier. “Forestry is an essential part of a strong and diversified provincial economy.”
Mr. Armstrong noted that research and collaboration, together with our unique system of public ownership of forests, have made Canada a world leader in forest management. “We have long understood that our industry’s future viability relies on responsible stewardship,” said Mr. Armstrong.
“By investing in innovation, and applying sound science to our forestry practices, we make sure future generations, too, will enjoy the environmental, social and economic benefits of our forests.” Mr. Armstrong expressed gratitude to Millar Western’s employees and partners, including the businesses that grow the company’s seedlings from locally collected cones and those that conduct tree planting for the company each summer.
Based in Edmonton, Millar Western is Alberta’s largest home-grown forest products company, producing lumber, pulp and – soon – bioenergy at facilities in Whitecourt and Fox Creek. The company employs 550 people on a fulltime basis, as well as many hundreds of contractors in forest renewal, harvesting, hauling and mill maintenance, making it a major regional employer.
Millar Western 200 millionth tree planting milestone Backgrounder
- Canada’s annual rate of deforestation (permanent removal of trees) is less than 0.02%, with most attributed to agriculture, resource extraction and urban expansion and recreation. (Source: Natural Resources Canada)
- Since 1920, more than 80% of disturbance (temporary removal of trees) in the boreal forest has been caused by fire and insects. Harvesting has accounted for 15%. (Source: Forest Products Association of Canada)
- The vast majority of Canadian forests – 94% – are publicly owned and subject to stringent land-use regulations designed to sustain multi-value forests resources for the benefit of present and future generations. (FPAC)
- Only 25% of Canada’s forests are managed for commercial use. The vast majority (70%) of the boreal region remains un-accessed. Of the managed portion, only 0.5% is harvested annually. By law, all harvested areas must be promptly regenerated. (Canadian Wood Council)
- Canada retains more than 91% of its original forest area – more than any other country in the world. (CWC)
- Canada is a leader in forest certification. 10% of the world’s forests are certified to independent standards for sustainable forest management; 43%, or 161 million hectares, of that certified area is in Canada. (FPAC)
- A growing forest sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it in trees and soil. The Canadian Forest Service estimates Canada’s managed forest areas store about 50 billion tonnes of carbon. As a renewable resource, our trees will continue to play this role: Canada’s deforestation rate is virtually zero (0.02%/year), and harvested trees are regrown, ensuring maintenance of our forest carbon stocks. (FPAC)
- Wood products store carbon and can replace materials with a heavier carbon footprint; green energy produced from wood wastes can replace fossil fuels and further shrink our carbon footprint. (FPAC)
- In numerous detailed life-cycle assessments, which measure a product’s environmental impact from cradle to grave, wood products like timber framing come out ahead of other carbon-intensive materials such as steel or concrete, making wood the green choice for building projects. (FPAC)
- Forestry generates $5 billion annually for Alberta’s economy and supports 70 communities throughout the province. The forest industry directly employs 15,000 Albertans and creates spin-off employment for thousands more. (Alberta Forest Products Association)
Millar Western Facts
- Millar Western traces its history to 1906, when J.W. Millar opened a blacksmith shop in North Battleford, SK.
- The family-owned business was first incorporated in 1919, and moved to Alberta in 1922 to start logging and sawmilling in the Whitecourt area, initially operating under government-managed timber quotas.
- The company took over the responsibility for managing and reforesting its Whitecourt forest quota areas from government in 1977, and was granted a Forest Management Agreement area in 1997.
- The company plants millions of tree seedlings each year; during this year’s planting season, the tally reached almost 205 million (204,727,409).
- To ensure healthy forests are sustained for the future, Millar Western conducts reforestation activities on each cutblock, generally within one year of harvesting. To regenerate conifer (spruce, pine and fir) stands, the company plants an average of three seedlings for every tree harvested, while deciduous (aspen) stands are reforested through natural regeneration. Renewed stands are monitored as they grow, to ensure successful reestablishment of biodiverse, multiple-value forests.
- Millar Western produces 450 million board feet of lumber and 320 thousand tonnes of pulp each year, employs more than 550 people on a permanent, full-time basis, and generates contract employment for hundreds more each year in logging, hauling, reforestation, and mill maintenance work.