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Chief Forester Jonathan Russell attends opening of new lab facilities at Lakehead University.

Thunder Bay, Ontario – At a ceremony today, officials announced the opening of new laboratory facilities at Lakehead University. The Lakehead University Nutrient Ecology (LUNE) laboratory will support research being conducted under the Forest Watershed and Riparian Disturbance (FORWARD) project. The FORWARD Project has attracted $1.8 million in funding and in-kind services from Millar Western Forest Products Ltd., a privately-owned company based in Edmonton, Alberta.

The FORWARD Project is headed by Lakehead’s Dr. Ellie Prepas and Dr. Lense Meyer, Dr. Dan Smith at the University of Alberta and Dr. Gordon Putz at the University of Saskatchewan. With funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the private sector, the aim of the FORWARD Project is to learn how different land use practices will impact water quality and water flow in forest operating areas. Initiated in 1998 and scheduled for completion in 2006, the project is designed to compare forest management scenarios and identify harvesting techniques that minimize negative effects on the environment.

“Environmental research is about partnerships – this partnership is one which will bring lasting benefits to the Faculty of Forestry and the Environment and Lakehead University,” says Dr. Prepas.

FORWARD has expanded an existing relationship between the university and research partner Millar Western Forest Products Ltd. Added to previous investments of $0.7 million in research conducted through Lakehead, this support has made Millar Western one of the University’s largest research funding partners. Millar Western Chief Forester Jonathan Russell was in attendance and dedicated approximately $30,000 worth of research infrastructure to the LUNE laboratory as part of Millar Western’s contribution to FORWARD. Other partners in LUNE include the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, NSERC and Louisiana Pacific.

“At Millar Western, we have decided it is important to focus much of our current research efforts in the area of water quality. The FORWARD project will provide the empirical data needed to identify the best policies to encourage the adoption of forest management practices that reduce impacts on the environment,” says Russell.

Through FORWARD, a minimum of five NSERC University-Industry post-graduate scholarships will be funded to young Canadian students. “This is a positive benefit stemming from the project,” Prepas says. “In addition to establishing much needed facilities, including field and laboratory equipment, the project is providing students an opportunity to conduct research in the areas of modelling and watershed management, linking engineering, science and forestry to operational planning at the landscape level.”

Other private sector contributors to the FORWARD Project, West Fraser (Blue Ridge Lumber), Louisiana Pacific Canada Ltd. and Vanderwell Contractors Ltd., join Millar Western in celebrating the long-term partnership in training young students.

For more information, contact:

Marla Tomlinson
Office of Communications
Lakehead University

Deb Millar
Corporate Communications
Millar Western Forest Products Ltd.