Thunder Bay, ON, October 28, 2004 - LakeheadUniversity is pleased to announce that its Forest Watershed and Riparian Disturbance (FORWARD) research project, in collaboration with Millar Western Forest Products Ltd., the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, and other university and industry partners, has won a 2004 Science and Engineering Research Canada (NSERC) Synergy Award for Innovation.
The FORWARD project models the impacts of timber harvesting, as well as natural disturbances such as fire, on soils, hydrological processes, water quality and water flow in Canada's boreal forests. The results are used to develop decision-support tools for responsible, science-based forest management planning. "FORWARD is aimed at developing innovative approaches to forest management that will help protect water, soils and the full range of forest values by providing forest companies across Canada with an improved ability to predict and shape the effects of their management practices and other disturbances within the forest," said principal investigator Dr. Ellie Prepas of Lakehead University.
The project partnership involves research teams from five Canadian universities: LakeheadUniversity, University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, Institut Québecois d'Aménagement de la Fôret Feuillue, and DalhousieUniversity. In addition to lead industry participant Millar Western, other forest companies are participating in the project: Alberta Plywood, Blue Ridge Lumber, Bowater Canadian Forest Products, Buchanan Forest Products, LP and Vanderwell Contractors.
Dr. Frederick Gilbert, president of Lakehead, says: "Collaborative research has been a cornerstone of our strategy to innovate and effect change. FORWARD is an example of effective partnerships between university, industry, and the community with results that serve the interests of all parties. By working collaboratively on long-term research aimed at protecting forest values, this partnership promotes better forest management practices and better forest policy across Canada, providing environmental, social, and economic benefits for future generations."
Dr. Reino Pulkki, Lakehead University Dean of the Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment, notes that "FORWARD will contribute to sustainable economic development benefiting Aboriginal and other rural and northern communities, while helping ensure that Canada's forest industry remains internationally respected and globally competitive."
He adds: "Lakehead is fortunate to have Dr. Ellie Prepas lead this project, and a close working relationship with Millar Western and other partners. We are looking forward to many more collaborative research projects of this nature and ongoing support from NSERC, without which projects of this type would be difficult to organize and implement."
The Synergy Awards for Innovation were launched in 1995 by NSERC to recognize partnerships in research between universities and industry. Candidates are judged on factors including innovation and creativity, quality of research, superior management processes and effective use of university and industry human and technical resources. The Synergy Award to FORWARD, announced today by NSERC, will be presented later tonight in Waterloo, Ontario, along with awards to six other partnerships singled out for national recognition this year. The winning university researchers receive a $25,000 NSERC research grant, while their industry partners receive a Synergy sculpture commemorating their shared achievement.
FORWARD has received more than $1 million in Collaborative Research and Development grants from NSERC, including an Industrial Research Fellowship (IRF) granted earlier this year valued at $60,000, with matching funds provided by Millar Western. The IRF, granted following an internationally recognized peer review process that deemed Millar Western to have the vision and commitment to conduct world-class research, will provide funding for the study of soil classification as the basis for watershed management within detailed forest management planning processes. To date, NSERC has also awarded three Industrial Postgraduate Scholarships to graduate students involved with FORWARD, along with a Discovery Grant of $339,000 to Dr. Prepas at LakeheadUniversity for forest-related research.
FORWARD is also supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). The CFI, in partnership with the Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT) and Millar Western, earlier this year awarded an Innovation Fund Grant to LakeheadUniversity to sponsor the training of personnel and building of infrastructure for FORWARD watershed study sites in the boreal forest. Funding includes $1.1 million from CFI and OIT, $1.7 million in funding from Millar Western and $400,000 from other industry and university partners.
Science and Engineering Research Canada (also known as NSERC) is a key federal agency investing in people, discovery and innovation. It supports both basic university research through research grants, and project research through partnerships among postsecondary institutions, government and the private sector, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people.
One of Western Canada's largest privately owned forest companies, Millar Western is a family-owned business operating technologically advanced lumber and pulp manufacturing facilities in Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as progressive woodlands operations supplying timber to the operations on the basis of sustainable forest management.
For more information, contact: LakeheadUniversity: Anne Klymenko, Research Manager, 807. 343-8223, or Eleanor Abaya, Director of Communications, 807. 343-8372; Millar WesternForest Products: Janet Millar, Communications Manager, 780.486-8249.
Media: To speak with Dr. Ellie Prepas or Dr. Reino Pulkki about the FORWARD project, please contact the Office of Communications at 343-8372 to arrange for an interview.