Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry
Issue 9 - Evidence - October 28, 2010
OTTAWA, Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 8
a.m. to study the current state and future of Canada's forest sector.
Senator Percy Mockler (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: I declare the meeting in session. Good morning from Canada
Pasi Puttonen, Research Director, Metla — Finnish Forest Research
Institute: A very good morning from Finland to you, honourable senators.
The Chair: We welcome you to this meeting of the Standing Senate
Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.
I am Senator Percy Mockler, from New Brunswick, Canada. I am the chair of the
committee. The committee is continuing its study on the current state and future
of Canada's forest sector and looking more particularly at examining research,
development and innovation in the forestry sector.
The meeting will be in two parts. We will be hearing a witness via video
conference, which is the professor from Finland, for the first hour of the
meeting. The other witness, also via video conference, will follow for the
I have the honour this morning of engaging the committee to hear first from
Professor Pasi Puttonen, Research Director, Metla — Finnish Forest Research
Institute. He is appearing from Vantaa, Finland. We are in Ottawa, Canada.
Before I ask the witness to make his presentation, I will start by asking the
senators on the committee to introduce themselves.
Senator Mercer: Good morning, I am Terry Mercer, from Nova Scotia.
Senator Robichaud: Good morning. My name is Fernand Robichaud, from
the province of New Brunswick.
Senator Fairbairn: Senator Joyce Fairbairn, from Alberta.
Senator Mahovlich: Senator Frank Mahovlich, from Ontario.
Senator MacDonald: Senator Michael MacDonald, from Nova Scotia.
Senator Ogilvie: Senator Kelvin Ogilvie, from Nova Scotia.
Senator Eaton: Senator Nicky Eaton, from Ontario.
The Chair: Professor, we are honoured that you have accepted our
invitation, and we thank you for accepting this invitation via video conference.
I would now invite you to make your presentation. It will be followed by a
question and answer session for one hour. As we say in l'Acadie in New
Brunswick, la parole est à vous; we would like to hear from you.
Mr. Puttonen: Thank you very much for your invitation. I am pleased to
see this trans-Atlantic connection is working so far. Let us keep our fingers
crossed that it will work for the next hour. Thank you also for the introduction
of the senators.
I will now switch to a presentation that should appear somewhere on your
screen there. Has it come on?
The Chair: Yes.
Mr. Puttonen: Very good.
It is a presentation of quite a few slides. I will not go through each of the
slides in this presentation; it is for your background information. I will take
some key points of this issue of research technology and innovation in Finland.
This presentation is not only about the forest research institute. There is a
network of all types of programs and organizations. I would like to present how
Finland has organized itself for that research technology and innovation — what
sort of linkages there are among funding organizations, research institutes,
industry and the European Union, which are all part of the system.
First, I will speak about the innovation system in Finland, followed by a few
key points on the forest sector in Finland — how we organized the research
development and innovation in forestry, how our institute, Metla, has organized
this and, finally, how much we have exchanged in this field with Canada.
This is a simplified view of the science and technology system in Finland. A
key feature is that for the last 20 years at least, we have had a research and
innovation council that is directly under the government. The prime minister is
the chair of that council, which puts the issue of research and innovation in a
very prominent position.
The operations are then run through a couple of major ministries. The
ministry of education has a major role because that is where the education and
research funding is. The other key ministry is the ministry of employment and
economy because it runs the funding to industry for further development and
research. Of course, we also have other ministries involved. For instance, we,
in the forest research institute, are under the ministry of forestry and
Another key feature of the Finnish system is that we have so-called sectoral
research institutes under different ministries, such as our institute, which is
under agriculture and forestry, as I mentioned. We have 20 different sectoral
research institutes. In today's policy, these institutes are involved in very
animated discussions as to whether they should stay independent or merge among
themselves or with the universities. There is a lively debate on that.
However, thus far, the sectoral research institutes represent more of the
applied side of science and technology, and the basic sciences are more in the
universities. The funding of the universities is mainly through the Academy of
Finland, which corresponds to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada, NSERC.
We have another important funding body called Tekes, through which major
funding to industry development goes. Then we have a couple of other major
funding bodies. That is in brief; there is a high-level research and innovation
council, and the sectoral institutes are key players with the universities in
An odd feature is that Finland, for a small country of 5 million people, has
20 universities, close to 30 polytechnics and these 20 sectoral institutes. The
level of involvement in higher education and research is fairly substantial.
On the current technology policy, it is self-evident its goal is to enhance
the competitiveness of Finnish industry. Over the last years, the R&D funding,
as a proportion of Finland's gross national product, has been around 3.5 per
cent or 3.6 per cent. The target is to increase that even more. That is the
funding part of the target to enhance competitiveness.
One key structure is the so-called strategic centres for science, technology
and innovation that have been formed in the last two or three years. These are
basically public-private partnerships, PPPs, to try to renew the industry
clusters, find new bases for growth and increase the tax base. I will describe
these more when I give you the description of Metla. We have six different
science and technology innovation centres, and one of those is the Forestcluster
Ltd, which I will talk about more in the coming slides.
In the technology innovation policy, it is not only the research and
innovation but has to evolve to businesses and management skills. These
management skills are emphasized in this policy as well as service innovations
because already now much of the national product comes from the service
The slide shows the R&D investments in Finland compared to mainly European
countries. Sweden is leading the pack with close to 4 per cent of the GDP going
to R&D. Finland is around 3.5 per cent, which we are now trying to increase, and
then Japan, Switzerland and so forth. These are fairly high investments, and
countries trust that these are investments worth doing.
On the forest sector, here are a few key figures. First, we have employment
in the forest sector, meaning the forestry, the forest parts and then the
industry itself. Nowadays it is about 3.5 per cent of the employment, and
cross-national production is around 6 per cent; but it is still a very high
share of the value of export, about 20 per cent on an annual basis. It has
decreased over the last 30 years by almost half, but it is still a substantial
part of the Finnish economy and also a large part of the industrial production.
These figures compare with Ontario or British Columbia.
Although it has a proportion of the GNP, it does not actually employ that
many people. The forestry where the harvesting, silviculture and such work is
done employs less than 30,000 nowadays. It is fairly mechanized and
Actually, we have a strange problem coming. We do not have enough workers for
the forestry work, so we are looking at other alternatives, either employees
from neighbouring countries or further mechanization of forestry work. The
forestry industry, the pulp and paper, and the mechanical industry employ about
60,000 people. Those are as a result of fairly rationalized production lines
both in the forestry and forest industries.
Another important feature of the Finnish forestry is the role of private
non-industrial forest owners because they own about 60 per cent of the land,
more of the timber and even more of the annual growth of the timber. This has
led to different types of organizations that serve the non-industrial private
forest owners, different types of forest associations and technology transfer
organizations. When there is talk about forest policy in Finland, we have to
remember that we have about 1 million people behind or against the decisions
made in forestry.
The black line on the slide shows that the forests are growing more, and the
red line shows the harvest or the drain. The forests are growing more than they
are harvested, so it is a fairly sustainable system.
On forest policy, this is one of the parts of the puzzle or the network of
how the innovation system works. At the national level, we have national forest
programs for implementing the forest policy mainly at the national level, but it
also includes the international aspect, and it is part of a science policy
The program is there to secure employment, the health of the forest and so
forth. In this context of today, in this program, it includes reasonably
detailed tasks for research, development and innovation for the coming years.
This is the government's say of what should happen in the area of forestry. This
is a national policy statement. In a little while I will describe the industry
side of things, but this is the government side of how they see the national
forestry being dealt with. In this context, as we are part of the government
structure, our institute carries much of the research, development and
innovation work needed in this program.
On the industry side, which we all know and most know in Canada, the forest
industry is under major changes and pressures. It is same here in Scandinavia.
There is a strong demand for growth in Asia; big companies such as the Finnish
UPM-Kymmene or the Finnish-Swedish Stora Enso are making investments in Asia.
There is high investment in Asia but also in Latin America.
Another feature is the change in the Internet and e-readership development.
All these have created a need for renewal, and in Finland, that is part of the
strategic clusters where the forest industry has created Forestcluster Ltd to
help renew itself.
The industry side of things has formed this national strategic agenda in
forestry. It emphasizes networking with all the players in research and
innovation, and that is why we, as a research institute, are part of this
cluster. It is a private limited enterprise, so we have had to buy shares of
that enterprise using government funding. However, that is seen as part of the
value chain in gathering new information, that we could or should be part of
these types of arrangements. This is sanctioned by the government. The
government is basically funding these programs. The industry puts in a certain
part, 50 per cent, and the government through different funding organization
puts another 50 per cent to this cluster, so it is part of the government's wish
as well. It is not only the industry working for their benefit.
The cluster has very ambitious targets for the next 20 years, one of which is
to double the value of Forestcluster Ltd's products and services. That is a very
demanding, and also that half of the value would come from totally new products,
and that is why there is a heavy research, development and innovation component
functioning in the clusters, and also increase the use of domestic wood. That is
basically saying that it has to help also the private non-industrial forest
owners, and all this needs more investment funding.
Another player is the European Union. The European Union has several
technology platforms, maybe 20 in different fields such as steel, mining,
fisheries and so forth. Forestry is one of these technology platforms that aims
to secure funding from the very large European Union framework program for its
Right now, a seventh framework program is under way, the eighth frame program
is being planned, and all these technology platforms are trying to get their
agenda to that funding board.
At the European level, a couple of years ago, they made a forestry-based
sector platform, and they have a research agenda. Finland's agenda is part of
the European agenda. Our institute, Metla, is part of the Finnish Forestcluster
Metla is currently going through a strategic discussion of the future.
Recently, we added the word "bio-economy" to our mission so that Metla builds
well-being and a future in a bio-economy society. "Bio-economy" is a buzzword
and is not well defined, but it appears in many strategic papers. As we move
forward, we have to define what we actually mean by that. In terms of forestry,
we see it as one of those renewable resources that can lend itself to many types
of products and services in the coming future. Bio-economy is key here.
We are a reasonably large institute. The funding is about 51 million euros
annually, which makes us perhaps the biggest in Europe. It is not the best thing
to be the biggest, but we are a reasonably large player in the European sector.
In terms of how we are organized to do the work, we have process-based
functions. Our major functions are the production, acquisition and
implementation of research results, including technology transfer, which I will
describe more in the coming slides.
We have other public services because we are under the government. We provide
certain services that the government deems important, such as national forest
inventories, tree-breeding programs, survey of forest health, greenhouse gas
assessment and reporting to the UN, Europe, and the Kyoto Protocol.
Much of the work is in the research process and in the production and
acquisition process, which is from client to client. That means that, more than
ever, we discuss with potential clients who need the information. We form our
programs and projects through discussion with the client. We work with them
throughout the research chain until we deliver whatever the goods, services and
products are. The focus is from client to client. To think in terms of the
client has been a needed cultural change but not a simple one in our institute.
How we are organized for the future shows in our research areas and how we
have prioritized them. We are looking at forest-based entrepreneurship and how
it supports livelihoods. That is the first priority. The next priority is the
forest and society, which includes forest policy and societal impacts. Then we
consider sustainable forestry practices, which includes ecological aspects; and
last is the information we collect through all those programs and what services
we can generate from those.
The main focus is on entrepreneurship, which supports the bio-economy side of
things, which supports the strategic industry agenda. It also supports the
government's policy agenda in forestry.
This slide shows the simplified research process. In the middle is a rough
categorization of the types of goods and services we have. We have the
traditional peer-reviewed publications but also many other technology transfer
publications. We have many products for different types of customers, mainly on
the forestry side. We are not yet doing much work in the forest industry. The
products and services are forest-based. Tourism and recreation are seen as
increasing uses of the forest. We have a number of expert services, starting
with modelling programs for different purposes, experts working in different
development aid projects in forest inventory and so forth. We are also part of
the education system. We have joint professorship with the universities. They
are in charge of teaching the new generation of forest scientists. This is all
to say that we work with clients in terms of client-based products.
The next slide is a funnel picture of the strategic objectives, where the
bio-economy now emphasizes priority areas of which entrepreneurship is a key. We
must have core knowledge in these priority areas. We have defined some 20
priority areas led by professors. This is the basic expertise we must have in
the institute to be regarded as a reliable institute. Then we have the programs
and research projects. When I have shown this picture to other scientists, they
can see that they are at the bottom of the funnel, the little black dot.
The industry side, being the government side, emphasizes different alliances
with key players. Forestcluster Ltd, as part of the strategic centre for
science, technology and innovation, is our new major ally. Another cluster is
being formed in the energy and environment cluster, and we will also become a
member of that.
We have alliances with other research institutes. These have recently been
legislated by the state to force us to work closely with other research
institutes and organizations, to increase the horizontal collaboration and the
societal impact, to improve productivity and to ensure that international
competitiveness will increase.
What are we doing with Canada? At the state level, there is an MOU between
Canada and Finland, which was updated a couple of years ago, I believe, in 2007.
There are recent new initiatives between organizations in Canada. In Canada,
we have now had formal collaboration with FPInnovations. There are joint
programs in bio-energy, partly funded by the EU.
The key interest of Metla, FPInnovations in Canada and Forestcluster Ltd in
Finland are the new wood-based bio- products. It is a long way to walk and
develop those products, so a joint effort is needed. Even though the Finnish
Forestcluster Ltd basically sees FPInnovations as a competitor in this field,
discussions are taking place about working jointly. There are a couple of other
EU collaboration networks. Our institute has plans in solid wood products to
increase collaboration. Of course, there is collaboration between the scientists
at universities and Natural Resources Canada, NRCan. On the whole, there is much
room for further collaboration between Canada and Finland in the field of new
bio-products. Metla is keen on any collaboration with any Canadian organization.
Starting from the high level of the network and with Finland being part of
the European Union, a number of things dissipate from there that call for
integration and collaboration. The existence of good science networks is
self-evident. The EU framework programs that I briefly described are one key
element. Of course, you understand that these EU framework programs basically
compete against North American science and technology in an effort to be at
least at the same level as North America in the coming years. Between the two
continents, a kind of competition exists. All of these agendas in the EU
emphasize key global areas of a few Asian countries and South America.
At the national strategic level in research, development and innovation, we
have the centres of excellence. We have a government policy of a national forest
program describing the government's will in forestry, and we have a few other
programs. These programs target a new solution to lower the production cost
through the value chain from the forest to the forest industry products. Lower
costs and more valuable products not only raise the value of existing products
but also develop new wood and wood biomass-based products.
Metla has tried to become part of this network and do the research,
development and innovation. We have tried to change our strategy to support
these goals, to refocus the research on a forest-based entrepreneurship and
emphasize a client-to-client process, while maintaining good strategic science
expertise in-house and finding new partners throughout the world.
I have a number of links for further information on the topics that I have
described on forest science policy, science funding systems, forest policy
systems in Finland, Forestcluster Ltd and the European forest-based sector
technology platform, which is also updating its strategy.
I thank you for the opportunity to discuss this with you.
The Chair: Mr. Puttonen, thank you very much for the interesting,
informative and educational presentation. We will move to questions.
Senator Eaton: We have been looking at the chain of taking new
products from the forest to development and research. We are having difficulty
getting the research to the marketplace, which is the last link. Have you had
difficulty with this or have you come up with a solution?
Mr. Puttonen: We have the same problem because this represents a
cultural change for how the scientists work. Traditionally, they do not think in
terms of marketable products. Most of our organizations have tried to strengthen
the way that we deal with intellectual property rights, IPR. That will provide a
clear description of how and what could be done with these new research results
and how it could be applied to some parts of the value chain. That has been one
key element. It is of great concern to Finland and the entire EU that results do
not reach the market. It is totally contrary to what happens in North America,
in general terms. We look at the statistics of how many IPR products in the
market come from research in North America compared to those that come from
research in the EU, or in this case Finland. It is the same problem. We do not
have a clear answer, but a gradual change is needed in how we work with
scientists and emphasize the client-to-client view.
Of course, money always helps. We have various funding sources to help bring
the ideas to the marketplace so that scientists do not consider that as part of
their research funds. There is a special funding pot for bringing it through the
Senator Eaton: We seem to have the same problem in taking venture
capital to the marketplace. We have had extensive testimony from our building
codes people. In some respects in Canada, building code changes for the use of
wood products would apply only to five- to seven-storey buildings. Architects
and builders would have to prove the viability of using wood products beyond
that because our building codes do not march in step with the current research.
Is that happening in Finland? Are your building codes as conservative as those
Mr. Puttonen: Our building code is even more conservative than the
codes in many Canadian provinces.
To date, the building code has allowed only two to three storey buildings,
and we also tried to change that for the very reason of increasing the use of
wood. We have to do that because, being a member of the EU, there is a target
that, by 2020, so much of the energy should come from renewable energy and, at
the same time, we must decrease the greenhouse gases.
Wood is seen as a solution, but the building code has been a block here as
well. It has been changed, and there is increasing evidence that fire safety can
be handled in wooden buildings. Our dear neighbour, Sweden, changed their
building code 10 to 15 years ago, and they are building seven- to ten-storey
buildings with good success. We do have the same problem, but the general
atmosphere is now right for changing the building code.
It is not only the code itself, of course — or it is not about wood — but
also competing against the steel-concrete- aluminum sector. That sector tries to
influence the building code, even though the wood itself would be good. This is
competition among different industries.
Senator Eaton: It sounds as though we have many of the same problems.
Mr. Puttonen: Exactly.
Senator Mercer: Professor, thank you very much for your interesting
Who owns the research that comes out of these projects, particularly the
public-private projects? Obviously that goes to the implementation and the
profit that may be made.
Mr. Puttonen: It is divided. For the research in the universities, the
intellectual property rights are owned by the scientist. In our institute, in
the government institute, it is the institute or basically the government that
owns the rights, and the institute can sell them, can hold the patents and so
on. In the case of Forestcluster Ltd, they own the work done with their money.
The forest industry will own the new innovation. That is a simplified answer.
Senator Mercer: I was interested that you said that you had a shortage
of workers and that you need to acquire workers or be more innovative or more
advanced in your technology. As a member of the EU, an opportunity exists for
people from elsewhere in the EU to come to work in Finland. Is that your main
source of new labour? If so, do they come trained, or do you have to train them
when they come to Finland?
Mr. Puttonen: Most of the workers have come from Estonia, some from
Russia, and some from the old Eastern bloc countries. Unfortunately, we have to
train them for the work we do because ours are reasonably high-skilled jobs
using highly mechanized equipment. One solution is through training, but it
appears that further mechanization is the way to go, at least in much of the
Senator Mercer: That is the first time you have used the word
"silviculture" and made any direct reference to reforestation. Could you tell
us what you are doing with respect to silviculture in Finland?
Mr. Puttonen: I have avoided that word because I am the chair of
silviculture in the university, so I avoided my discipline so far. Thank you for
A lot of silviculture is done after the harvesting. We have the planting or
natural regeneration. We have the early weeding and thinning. We do a number of
stages in silviculture. We try to avoid the costs of silviculture and try to
make all the thinnings somehow profitable. In the last couple of years, because
we have to increase the renewable energy, early thinnings also produce energy
wood. There is a sort of reasonable stumpage for that type of wood that
compensates for the expenses of those treatments. Compared to many Canadian
practices in the provinces, we have more intensive silviculture, with thinnings
and treatments throughout the growing cycle.
Senator Mercer: Your description of the national strategic agenda in
forestry was interesting. How was it developed? Who chaired it? Does it have a
time frame? Do you renew it every so many years, or is it an evolving agenda?
Mr. Puttonen: It was done through a participatory process. At least 40
different organizations were involved in that. It was then discussed in the 13
regions of Finland. It was led by the ministry of agriculture and forestry. It
is usually done for a period of 10 years, but the changes in the last two or
three years forced us to update it earlier. The program was updated just a few
weeks ago. Basically, it is for 10 years, but it is updated when necessary. It
is a very slow process in the very Canadian way of a participatory process.
Senator Robichaud: Professor, I saw in your presentation that you aim
to increase domestic use by 25 per cent. In what way are you looking to increase
that use? Is it through buildings, new uses, biomass or whatever other uses you
can find for wood?
Mr. Puttonen: Behind this 25 per cent, there is an international trade
issue, which is basically the Russian export policy on wood. They have put a tax
or levy on wood imported to Finland, so it has become unprofitable to import raw
wood from Russia. Of the annual usage of wood two or three years ago, 20 per
cent came from Russia or from the neighbouring countries. Since there is now a
high tax on that wood, that wood needs to be bought from the Venice market. That
is one part of that 25 per cent.
Our purposes are for further use in building, but also a much increased use
of wood as an energy source. As a rough figure, in Finland, we harvest about 50
million cubic metres per year for industrial purposes. The plan is to have 15
million cubic metres of wood for energy purposes only, so basically burning.
Those 15 million cubic metres of wood has to come from somewhere. It is from the
domestic source, and it is the branches and the stumps of the harvested wood.
That is where the increase is.
Basically this policy says that we have to increase the use of wood to meet
the EU goals for the use of natural resources and energy requirements.
It is partly trade policy but also part of the Finnish actions in the energy
Senator Robichaud: Professor, is it a challenge for industry and
research institutes to recruit and keep young scientists, researchers and
entrepreneurs in the forestry industry?
Mr. Puttonen: It is a challenge nowadays just because over the last
couple of years young people have seen the industry go downhill. When I said
earlier that it is difficult to get forest workers, it is seen first at the
forest work level, forest technician level that people are not willing to be
trained as drivers of harvesters or other machines. It is in the operations
first and less so in the researcher level because we can recruit researchers,
and even more nowadays, from other fields in forestry because the issues are not
as tightly linked with forestry any more. There are more economic questions,
more societal issues, and the expertise typically comes from outside the forest
It is a challenge. In the last year, we have tried to hire economists for
certain purposes and have not had any luck because economists see other fields
more interesting or lucrative than forestry. It is an issue truly about how we
will maintain the know-how and expertise in the field for the very challenges we
The Chair: With the mandate that we have to encourage value-added
products, I was listening carefully when you talked about bio-economy.
This is a follow-up to Senator Eaton's question. Some countries have green
building codes. Other countries, such as Canada, do not have these green
building codes. I am wondering about the use of life-cycle analysis and
assessments. What is the situation in Finland or in the EU with green building
codes, and if you have them, do they encourage higher utilization of wood
Mr. Puttonen: Yes, this is very much ongoing work in Finland as well,
as a part of the EU regulations. They are not yet mandatory, but these
life-cycle analysis and assessments are being used to study the use of wood in
the buildings, and so far all the results are fairly favourable when combined
with other green building solutions such as geothermal heating of houses, solar
energy and so on. Much supports the idea of green buildings. Of course, here in
the North, solar energy is not very reliable. However, there is a lot of focus
on geothermal energy for use in heating or district heating.
One more added feature to the building code is that in Finland many townships
or suburbs have a central heating system. They are not individual heating units
in the houses but rather a central heating plant. It is a very efficient way to
distribute and provide the energy.
The Chair: Thank you professor. Did I hear right that 60 per cent of
the forestland in your country is private woodlot owners?
Mr. Puttonen: Yes, that is correct.
The Chair: What percentage of your reforestation on private land is
done by planting or natural regeneration?
Mr. Puttonen: Two thirds is by planting and seeding with the remaining
30 per cent by natural regeneration. Of course, there is a large difference
between the north and south in Finland, so a natural regeneration is used in the
north in the less fertile soils.
The Chair: Finally, what percentage of Finnish seedlings is
Mr. Puttonen: Mr. Chair, none are genetically modified. It is not
allowed in the EU. We do not have genetically modified plants.
This summer, we had the first genetically modified organism, GMO, potato
experiment in Finland. However, the EU is very conservative on this issue and
very conservative in the forestry. Of course, these techniques or technologies
are used in research, but they are not targeting to produce GMO seedlings.
The Chair: Professor, the clerk has informed us that you have been in
Canada before, so we welcome you back to Canada to visit us on this topic. Your
comments and presentation have been very enlightening, and we, at the Senate,
sincerely thank you for your participation.
Mr. Puttonen: Mr. Chair, thank you very much. I have been in Canada
and lived in British Columbia for close to 10 years, so I am very pleased that I
had the opportunity to talk to you.
The Chair: Now we move from Canada to Norway; good morning in Canada,
and good afternoon in Norway.
I will introduce honourable senators to our two witnesses from Norway: Jørn
Brunsell, Managing Director, Norsk Treteknisk Institutt (Norwegian Institute of
Wood Technology); and Jostein Baardsen, Former Managing Director, Norsk
Treteknisk Institutt (Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology). The witnesses are
appearing from Oslo, Norway.
The Chair: Mr. Baardsen and Mr. Brunsell, please introduce yourselves
and then either one may start their first presentation. Thank you, again, for
accepting our invitation.
Jørn Brunsell, Managing Director, Norsk Treteknisk Institutt (Norwegian
Institute of Wood Technology): I am Jørn Brunsell, Managing Director, Norsk
Treteknisk Institutt (Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology). I have been the
director since January of this year. I have asked the former director, Mr.
Baardsen, to present the information for you today.
Jostein Baardsen, Former Managing Director, Norsk Treteknisk Institutt
(Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology): I am Jostein Baardsen. I was the
managing director for this institute for 17 years, until January of this year.
If it is okay with you, I can start with a presentation of our institute and
The Chair: We appreciate that. Please do, and then it will be followed
by a period of questions from the honourable senators.
Mr. Baardsen: The Norwegian Institute of Wood Technology is the
research and development, R&D, centre for the Norwegian wood industry. We are a
private research association, established in 1949. We have 38 employees and our
annual budget is approximately $37 million Norwegian kroner, which is about U.S.
We have 145 member companies along the value chain, including sawmills, which
are the dominant members, but also glue laminated timber — called "glulam" —
manufacturers, roof truss manufacturers, the wood working industry, the wood
preservation industry and suppliers of machines and equipment.
The funding of the operation consists of R&D projects, contracts with
industry, certification work and other income — for example, leasing of
premises. The yellow area shown on the slide is the membership fee, which is
only 10 per cent approximately of the budget. The rest of the income, we have to
Our activities will change from one year to another, but last year,
certification and testing counted for 35 per cent; contracting work for industry
was 26 per cent; and R&D was 38 per cent. Roughly, it is one third in each
sector of activities.
About 21 per cent of all contracts and projects came from abroad in 2009. The
main countries were Sweden, Finland and Austria. Much of this income is
connected to certification work, which I can talk more about later.
As a member association, we also have many self-financed tasks for which we
are not paid. We have to provide the funding for these tasks ourselves. The main
activities are at the bottom, as you see on the slide. Diffusion of knowledge is
where we use most resources, along with development of competence. We have to
finance this by our own revenues. As you can see, it amounts to $14.2 million
and the membership fee is only $3.5 million. We have managed to finance this and
made a profit as well.
Our main activities are R&D projects, dissemination of knowledge, contract
work, certification and quality-control schemes, and documentation of properties
and quality. We have accredited laboratories. We do a lot of standardization
work, both national and international, that is, European. We are also active in
With respect to our competence, we want to say that we have a leading-edge
competence in three areas: the gluing, drying and grading of wood.
We have several laboratories. We have one laboratory for mechanical testing,
where we test load-bearing timber, glulam beams, solid wood elements — that is,
cross-laminated timber — finger joints, engineered wood products, mechanical
connections, glue joints, et cetera.
We have a laboratory for chemical analysis, where we analyze preservatives,
formaldehydes, fire retardants, surface coatings, et cetera. We have a
laboratory for kiln drying of wood, where we do kiln experiments and try to
develop optimal drying processes for the industry for various products and wood
species. We have also a laboratory for gluing, where we test different glues. We
have many foreign glue manufacturers as our customers.
We have a laboratory for surface treatments, with weathering equipment,
colour measuring, gloss measuring and abrasion measuring. We test paints,
stains, furniture varnish and floor varnish. We even have a testing field just
outside of Oslo where we test both surface-treated wood and impregnated wood. We
also have a laboratory for wood anatomy.
We do a lot of quality documentation. We conduct tests according to approved
standards, which could be European standards, British standards, German
standards or whatever. We are the only laboratory in Europe that is approved as
a certification body, according to the Japanese Agricultural Standard, JAS. We
have many foreign customers for this certification scheme. We do testing
inspection for Holland, according to the requirements there, and the same for
Germany. There is also a special certification in Europe called CE marking, and
our institute is an authorized body for this as well.
I mentioned the Japanese market. Actually, 82 per cent of the total import of
glulam worldwide in Japan has been certified through our institute. As you can
see on the slide, there is an increase compared to last year.
We have many quality-control schemes. I will not go through all of them, but
they include a glulam control, a technical approval for building elements and a
special drying control for sanitary conditions. The industry has to document
that the timber or wood have been treated to avoid micro-organisms. We also have
a stress-grading inspection scheme and a scheme for preservative-treated wood.
Our institute has been doing a lot of work to enhance new market
possibilities for the industry. One of these areas is timber bridges. We know
about timber bridges from a historical perspective, but what we mean here is
modern timber bridges for heavy-duty traffic.
The picture at the top left of the slide shows the world's largest timber
bridge, which is in Norway. The picture on the right is inspired by Leonardo da
Vinci. It is a bridge for pedestrians, crossing a main road.
The bridge in picture in the middle is mainly for military traffic. This
bridge can take a load of 110 metric tonnes, and that is for military tanks.
There is almost no limit to what you can solve with timber construction.
This is an area where we have had a leading position in Norway among the
Nordic countries. We initiated a Nordic research program in the early 1990s,
which has been very successful.
Another target area is new building methods. For example, we have been
working with solid wood units, which that is cross-laminated timber. I do not
know whether you are acquainted with this method, but it has been successful in
Norway and in several other European countries, such as Austria, Germany and
This building method enables the industry to erect multi-storey,
non-residential buildings, as well as multi-storey, residential buildings. It is
very efficient for fire resistance and is a competitor to the concrete elements.
The weight of this timber element is only one fifth of the weight of the
concrete element, so we can erect buildings with more storeys than is possible
with concrete elements where the foundation is poor. We think this has great
We have been working with urban timber construction and wood in modern
buildings. The example I am showing you is a street quarter in Trondheim that
burnt down, and a timber construction was erected for a big commercial building.
You can see some of the construction; it is big.
The pictures at the bottom of the slide show the new opera building in Oslo,
designed by Snøhetta, which is a famous architectural company in Norway. This is
not a timber construction, but the use of wood is quite extensive indoors. We
had a pretty large contract in securing the quality in this connection.
Of course, it will also be an important area to work with wooden facades,
especially durability and service life.
Lastly, I will give you an idea how we work as a research organizations
together with other organization. Five industry-oriented organizations in Norway
work in close cooperation toward common goals but through different roles and
activities. One is the sawmilling industries association. We have our institute,
which is the R&D institute for the wood industry. Then we have TreFokus, which
is wood focus and deals with wood information. We also have a technical college
specializing in education for the wood industry. Our institute was one of the
founders of this. We have TreSenteret, which is wood centre and is the door
between industry and the technical university in Trondheim. We have invested
much in developing education in this university when it comes to wood and timber
construction. The common goal for us is to increase the consumption of wood in
Norway up to .75 cubic meters per inhabitant.
This concludes my presentation.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Baardsen. Your presentation is very accurate
and in line with the mandate that we have in our committee at the Senate. We
will now start the line of questions.
Senator Eaton: That was fascinating and interesting because you seem
to be far ahead of us in some respects.
We have been wrestling with our building code. I noticed, in one of your
slides, that you do a lot of testing and new innovations, whether it is glulam
beams or other products. Do you work with your building codes? Do you set your
building codes? Is it completely separate? Are your building codes conservative?
Do they work in advance or with you or alongside you? How does that work?
Mr. Brunsell: I can try to give you an answer on that one. The
research institutes, not only our wood institute but also other resource
institutes, give valuable input for the building code. In Norway, we have an
official entity that gives out the building code, and the codes are
performance-based. We give input to the building code, but we also give input to
the industry and ask them to give solutions for the performance-based code. In
that way, we work with the building code.
Senator Eaton: If an architect comes to you with a new, interesting
plan, is he using stuff that has already been tested by the building code, or do
you set about testing some of his theories and give them to the building code?
Mr. Brunsell: Maybe we talk a little bit differently about building
codes. I am talking about building regulations.
Mr. Baardsen: These are building regulations from the authorities.
Mr. Brunsell: Yes, the building authorities in Norway. If that is not
the case, I am not sure that I understand you correctly.
Senator Eaton: In this country, if an architect, for instance, wants
to build a six-storey or seven-storey building and the official building codes
in the province and the country have not faced that dilemma, or have not faced a
six-storey wooden building before, then the architect has to go through
incredible hoops to prove that a six-storey building is viable because it has
not been done before. Are you ahead of the architects, or do you follow
alongside or behind the architects?
Mr. Brunsell: Often we are ahead of the architects, I think. Sometimes
the architects have very good ideas. When they come to us, we have to come up
with the technical solutions, proving that these solutions could fit the
building code of Norway. We help the architect, as you say, yes.
Senator Eaton: Has dissemination of information created a sort of
wood-first program? Do you have any wood-first legislation in Norway, or is it
just traditional to use wood more often than you would concrete or steel, or are
all three used in equal measure?
Mr. Baardsen: We can say that we do not have any legal obligations to
use wood, but there is encouragement from the government to use more wood, and
that is mainly based on the climatic impact and environment. Based on that,
there is an encouragement from the government, and there are also programs for
assisting this development or supporting this development.
Senator Eaton: What kind of programs do you have?
Mr. Baardsen: For example, the organization Innovation Norway has a
program. That is a wood-based, innovation program in which companies can apply
for support to use wood in an innovative way. They can get up to 50 per cent or
60 per cent support from the government, depending on European State aid rules.
That will vary from one type of project to another. As an R&D institute, we will
often be engaged by the company in this work. That is one example.
We also have an R&D program within our national research council. There is a
nature and business program that includes the forest sector and wood industry.
Senator Mahovlich: Congratulations to the witnesses for a wonderful
presentation. A few years ago, I visited Norway. I was up in Tromsø.
In 1974, I was also in Sweden in a town called Örnsköldsvik, with MODO
Hockey, and it is a pulp and paper town. Many towns here in Canada, especially
in Northern Ontario, have had a very difficult time. Some of the pulp and paper
mills have closed, and others are having a very difficult time as we are in
transition, very similar to you.
How are these pulp and paper mill towns doing in Sweden and Norway? Are they
conforming to the changes? Are they doing well?
Mr. Baardsen: I can try to answer that even though I am not so well
acquainted with the pulp and paper industry. In Norway, we have a very large
company called Norske Skog, Norwegian forests, which is one of the biggest when
it comes to paper for newspapers, and they have suffered quite heavily during
recent years. I think conditions are a little better now, but the problem is the
same. I think the production capacity has been too large in several sectors of
this pulp and paper industry, and we know, of course, that there have been
problems both in Finland, Sweden and other countries.
The mechanical wood industry in Norway is thriving and successful. Of course
there was a downturn during the financial crisis, but we are lucky in Norway
that we were not affected much by that. Today I think the mechanical wood
industry has a very positive view on the near future.
Senator Mahovlich: I noticed that you built an opera house out of
wood. Have you built any hockey arenas out of wood? We did so during the Olympic
Games here in Vancouver, and it has been very successful. Everyone is impressed
Mr. Baardsen: I must correct you a little because the opera building
is not made of wood, but the interior of the building widely used wood. I think
we have some hockey arenas made of wood construction as well.
In connection with the Olympic Games, in Norway in 1994, we erected quite a
few large sports arenas using timber construction. One of the most famous is the
Viking Ship. I do not know whether you heard about that, but it looks like a
Viking ship turned upside down, and that is the shape of the building. Many
world records in skating have been recorded in that hall.
There are also ice-skating rinks in two cities, Lillehammer and Hamar, 100
kilometres to 200 kilometres north of Oslo.
The Chair: I have to share with you, witnesses, that when the
Honourable Senator Mahovlich asks about hockey or arenas it is because he is one
of our hockey superstars from the 1960s and 1970s who played with the Montreal
Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Senator Ogilvie: You mentioned the structure built as an upside down
Viking ship. In fact, one of our early Nova Scotia architects constructed a
hockey arena at Acadia University based on the idea of an upside down ship model
because of the structural integrity, the tremendous strength that comes from
using that kind of structure in an inverted fashion on land. That is just an
observation in passing.
I was impressed with the use of wood in the bridges, structural components
requiring great strength, and obviously you have advanced the techniques. An
earlier question dealt with approvals and meeting regulations when using wood as
a structural component. Very clearly you have met advanced requirements with
respect to structure.
Am I correct that a 17-storey building is being constructed or is in some
stage of construction in one of your towns in Norway?
Mr. Brunsell: It is correct that you have seen drawings of such a
building. It is in the planning stage at the moment, and we do not know at this
moment if it will be built. It is called Barents House and is in Northern Norway
in a city called Kirkenes. We are trying, but we do not think wood will be used
in that tall a building in the future as the main construction material. We
think that if we can overcome the technical problems as we see them today in 18
or 20 storeys, we can certainly build buildings of 6, 8, 10 storeys with wood as
the construction material.
Mr. Baardsen: We were consulted when it came to the feasibility of
building this high-rise building of 17 or up to 20 storeys. The conclusion is
that this is feasible with no major problems.
Senator Ogilvie: Thank you for putting it in perspective. The building
is in the conceptual stage. In terms of the issues that you are facing,
obviously we would quickly recognize that the building materials and the
processes you are using have to meet standards and have to be approved. However,
in terms of opposition to using wood in a structure of that size, is there any
organized resistance from competitive material industries? Are the steel and
concrete industries watching this with interest, or are they watching it
Mr. Baardsen: They are worried. We have not met an organized
opposition, but the concrete industry is especially worried because we are
entering their domestic arena, if you like — timber bridges, for example.
Traditionally, it has been a market for concrete and steel. The same applies to
urban multi-storey buildings. I think they see the wood industry as a threat,
Senator Ogilvie: My final question on this goes back to your
clarification of the project stage. Do you foresee the project receiving final
approvals, and, if so, what would the time frame be?
Mr. Brunsell: There is a good chance that they will receive approval.
That is not the challenge. The real challenge is how to lease this huge building
in a small city. That is the greater challenge.
Senator Ogilvie: It comes down to a question of economics.
Mr. Brunsell: Yes. Technically, I do not perceive a problem.
Senator Mercer: Thank you, gentlemen, for your very good presentation.
I have a couple of quick questions on your research and development. Who owns
the research? Is it owned by the institute or by the partners involved in the
research? How is your research brought from conception to implementation and the
Mr. Baardsen: The ownership will depend on the kind of R&D projects.
In principle, we have three different kinds of R&D projects in Norway. The first
category is innovation projects, in which the industry applicant must provide at
least 50 per cent of the funding. The industry owns the results of the R&D. The
second category is knowledge-building projects with user involvement. For these
projects, industry must be co-funded with 20 per cent in cash. The applicants
must be R&D institutes and the ownership is divided between the R&D institute
and industry. The third category is researcher projects, for which only R&D
institutions can apply. The funding is 100 per cent public, and the R&D is owned
by the R&D institute.
Senator Mercer: My second question is about silviculture. I did not
hear you say much about silviculture and reforestation. How is that handled in
Mr. Brunsell: Could you repeat the question, please?
Senator Mercer: In your presentation you did not talk about
reforestation or silviculture. How is that handled in Norway?
Mr. Baardsen: Our institute does not deal with forestry. We have the
Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute situated outside Oslo where they mainly
do R&D related to forests, soils, fields and landscapes. This institute
typically will take care of the area that you mentioned. We start with timber
and do not work with forestry aspects as such.
Senator Mercer: Thank you. You referred to certification throughout
your presentation. I am a little confused about that. Could you explain the
certification and how the process works?
Mr. Baardsen: There are different kinds of certification.
Certification is a type of assessment of properties to ensure that they meet
certain requirements. That is the principle. We certify according to standards.
I am sure you have the same certification based on Canadian standards or U.S.
standards. We have certification of wood products based on European standards
and certification based on Norwegian standards.
I mentioned in particular certification according to the Japanese standards,
which is an important part of our activities. We certify according to certain
Senator Robichaud: I was very interested in and impressed by the
pictures you showed us of bridges with wooden superstructures. In the province
where I live, we used to have many wooden bridges for highways that crossed
rivers. All of these wooden bridges are being replaced by concrete structures.
Were special provisions made for the use of wood on these projects? Were they
demonstration projects? Were there incentives to promote the use of wood for
those structures? Were they cost-competitive?
Mr. Baardsen: Of course, they have to be competitive in economic
terms. The success of timber bridges in Norway and Sweden is a result of our
long-term Nordic R&D program. The program ran for approximately 10 years. In
conjunction with these projects under the program, we also had Norwegian road
authorities as participants. This was key to our success because the road
authorities were engaged in development and testing. They became enthusiasts of
timber bridges. Norwegian road authorities are excellent ambassadors for timber
bridges; but we have to compete with concrete and steel in every case.
Senator Robichaud: What is the life expectancy of a timber bridge? Is
Mr. Baardsen: A requirement independent of the material used for these
bridges in Norway is a life expectancy of at least 100 years. We had to comply
Senator Robichaud: I suppose you needed to use specially treated wood
or glues for the structures?
Mr. Baardsen: Yes, you are quite right. In order to meet the life
expectancy requirement, we treat the timber with a preservative — either CCA,
which is chromated copper arsenate, or creosote.
Senator Robichaud: That was the old way, was it not?
Mr. Baardsen: That was the old way. Now the challenge is to ensure
life endurance using other methods. In principle, we can protect the timber by
using a kind of curtain, also made of timber. We can replace this curtain with
another, if needed, but the structure will be intact.
We also have a new preservative called Kebony. Actually, I think it is a
Canadian invention. It is a process whereby you use sugar by-products to gain
better endurance. We have industrial activity on this in Norway for the time
being. We currently have a project running for the road authorities, which deals
with this wood preservation so that timber bridges comply with environmental
Senator Fairbairn: Of all the issues you have spoken about, my eyes
popped a bit when you spoke about the Japanese. Could you give us an idea of
what you are doing with their activities in your work?
Mr. Baardsen: The Japanese market is interesting. They used to build
approximately 1.5 million new dwellings each year, and half of these dwellings
were made of wood or timber. That is about 750,000 wooden buildings in Japan. Of
course, building activity in Japan has decreased substantially. Now we speak
about fewer than 1 million new dwellings in Japan. However, the share of wooden
houses is increasing, and it is still a very big market.
Also in Japan, they use quite a lot of glulam in their housing construction.
We have been certifying that glulam from Europe to meet the requirements of the
Japanese standards, and that is a must. You cannot use glulam without this JAS
certification. This has been quite a successful business for us. We have no
Norwegian customers in this scheme. All our customers are from abroad. As I
said, we are the only authorized laboratory in Europe.
The Chair: You mentioned that you are looking forward to increased
utilization of wood to .75 cubic metres. What is the volume that you now have
Mr. Baardsen: I think the last figure I saw was .66 cubic metres per
The Chair: In our mandate, we are also looking at new ways of
utilizing wood in non-residential construction. When we look at the United
States, California and other states are following a green building code.
Do you have any comments on what would happen by using the life-cycle
assessment? I know that other countries are looking at this and implementing it
as per the industry code or standardization.
Today, in Canada, we do not have a green building code. What is the situation
in Norway and in Europe on green building codes? What would be your comments on
that particular endeavour in the wood construction industry?
Mr. Brunsell: The most important element of green building codes in
Europe is linked to energy use in buildings. Mainly, the building code provides
requirements for the maximum heat loss from each building.
In Norway, and throughout the European countries, we see a lot of development
toward passive house construction. For instance, in Norway, we need walls with
thicknesses of 400 millimetres, with insulation inside. It is clear that we
cannot use one piece of wood. A two-by-four stud cannot be used in such a
construction. We have to find solutions for the wood industry to address these
challenges — perhaps a double-stud wall, some kind of I-beam or something
similar — to come up with this energy-efficient construction. That is one part.
On the life-cycle assessment, in Norway, we do not have a requirement for
such analysis in the building code today. However, I think in the near future
this will also be taken into account.
Mr. Baardsen: We are at the beginning of a large R&D project in Norway
called "climate wood." This is a total accounting of the climate impact in
relation to all the different wood products we produce in Norway and in relation
to the value added. It is climate accountancy and economic accountancy. The
theory is that there is a positive correlation between those two accountancies.
The Chair: Dr. Brunsell and Mr. Baardsen, thank you very much for your
presentations and your comments. It has been very interesting, enlightening,
informative and educational for our committee. We will extend our invitation to
come to visit us in Canada, and we will visit you in your country. On behalf on
the Senate of Canada and our country, thank you for your information.
Mr. Baardsen: Thank you for being part of this small conference. We
also want to invite you to Norway so that you can see our construction and
development, and we would certainly like to come to Canada to visit you.
The Chair: The feeling is mutual. Thank you very much.
Honourable senators, I declare the meeting adjourned.