Province Provides Funding to Two Ontario Universities to Support Forestry Research

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Cutting-edge technology will advance research commitments under Forest Sector Strategy

TORONTO — Ontario has entered into collaborative research agreements with McMaster University and the University of Toronto to help promote healthy, resilient and sustainable forests while supporting the forest industry.

A collaborative project with McMaster University will study the effects of a changing climate on forest growth, and a collaborative project with the University of Toronto will research the effect of the eastern spruce budworm in Ontario’s boreal forests.

“These collaborative research agreements with McMaster University and the University of Toronto are tremendous steps forward in research to sustain forests and the forest industry in Ontario,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “The research will not only further our understanding of environmental pressures on Ontario’s forests by harnessing leading technology, but also ensure Ontario’s forests remain healthy today and for future generations.”

These investments align with the province’s commitment under Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy to support applied research and monitoring to inform evidence-based decision-making and policy.


A collaborative research agreement with Hamilton’s McMaster University, valued at $45,000 over three years, will make use of a subset of artificial intelligence called machine-based learning to create a model to better understand the effects of climate change on Ontario’s forest growth and yield.

Machine-based learning uses computer technology to analyze large volumes of diverse data to reveal patterns, trends, and relationships that are difficult to identify using traditional analysis methods.

The research agreement will help Ontario further refine our practices of sustainable forest management, and it will supply the forest industry with updated growth and yield information needed to carry out forest management planning and wood supply analysis.

"There is a growing interest in considering climate change effects in forest management activities. Through this partnership, we are leveraging 70+ years of Ontario growth and yield program data on forest site conditions, soil properties and stand structure across the province," said Alemu Gonsamo, Assistant Professor at McMaster University's School of Earth, Environment & Society.


A collaborative research agreement with the University of Toronto, valued at $56,000 over three years, will assess the effect of the eastern spruce budworm in Ontario’s boreal forests, to mitigate timber losses in support of the forest sector.

The research will involve applying remote sensing satellite technology to analyze and model tree mortality caused by eastern spruce budworm in Ontario’s forests to support forest management planning.

The eastern spruce budworm is one of the most widespread and destructive pests in Ontario, capable of affecting millions of hectares of boreal forest.

“This work will improve our ability to accurately map where and when budworm outbreaks are occurring, which will be key to addressing other research questions related to forest health, wildfire risk, and forest management," said Patrick James, Associate Professor at the Institute of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Toronto.

Quick Facts

  • The forest sector generates approximately $18 billion in revenue and supports approximately 143,000 direct and indirect jobs across Ontario.
  • Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy includes a commitment to conduct applied research and best science. This research is used to support forest management policies and planning.
  • Forest companies in Ontario are regulated by some of the world’s strictest standards to ensure sustainable forest management.