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$1.4M supports research chair to test and explore new uses for beetle-affected wood


Vancouver, BC – As part of its plan to tackle the mountain pine beetle epidemic and find new uses for beetle-affected timber, the BC government is contributing $1.4 million towards a chair in wood building design and construction at the University of British Columbia.

“Our priority is to make the most out of the beetle wood in the short and long term so we can support our forest-dependent communities,” says Rich Coleman, minister of forests and range. “The research and development into new products and markets led by the chair the first of its kind in North America will play a big part in that effort.”

One of the key components of BC’s Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan is to recover the maximum economic value from beetle-affected wood by developing new uses and new markets. UBC received an additional $510,000 from the province last November for eight related pine beetle research and development projects.

The province is partnering with the university and the forest industry to attract an expert who will bring together architectural, engineering and wood science and technology students to further the design, development and uses of structural wood products. One of the chair’s key objectives will be to ensure facilities for the 2010 Olympics showcase British Columbia as a global leader in wood building design, construction and green building technology.

Connected to UBC’s timber building technology group, the chair will also:

– develop new opportunities and demand for value-added wood components, especially from beetle wood;
– integrate architecture, engineering and wood products knowledge for the advanced design and construction of timber structures; and
– provide technical advice to BC’s forest, construction and architecture communities on the greater use of wood products within existing building codes.

UBC, which is contributing $600,000, is looking to raise $3 million in government, industry and private contributions. In addition to the $1.4 million from the province, funding commitments have been received from Ainsworth Lumber, Forintek Canada, Goodfellow, Hundegger, Read Jones Christoffersen, SPF Group of Companies, representing Interior BC and Alberta producers of spruce, pine and fir dimension lumber, Timber Systems, and Western Archrib.

The chair is expected to be filled later this year.