Development of the Biobased Economy in Canada – an overview
From the outset, Canada’s bioresources have played an important role in its economy. At first, the country was known for its rich endowment of fish, furs and timber. In more recent times, Canada has also become a major producer of paper and related products, building materials as well as food, including grains and oilseeds, beef and pork. Canada has leading research organizations in plant biotechnology and oilseed research, for example, the National Research Council of Canada Plant Biotechnology Institute (NRC, 2009a), and is a major producer of oilseeds such as canola (Canola Council of Canada, 2009) and mustard (Canadian Special Crops Association, 2007). An inventory of Canada’s biomass resources (BIOCAP, 2003) indi-
cated that Canada’s forests account for 10 per cent of the world’s forest resources. Of the 998 million hectares of land in Canada, about 42 per cent is forested, and about 25 per cent is considered Timber Productive Forest. A further 6.8 per cent is agricultural land, about half of which (3.6 per cent of the total land area) is cropland. Canada is also well endowed with fossil carbon resources. For example,
North America’s first successful oil well was established in 1858, in the southwest corner of the Province of Ontario (Petrolia Discovery, 2009). More recently, successful development of large natural gas and oil sands deposits in Western Canada has enabled the petroleum and petrochemical industry to become a key component of the Canadian economy.