Special Report: The 6th Annual Sino-Canadian Wood Forum

By: Jim Wang

Senior Director, Business Development, China

On November 12, 2020, the 6th Sino-Canadian Wood Forum was held in the Crown Plaza Hotel in Beijing. The event was hosted by Canada Wood, and co-organized with the Wood and Bamboo Engineering Center of Forest Products Industry Planning and Design Institute of National Forestry and Grassland Administration. The theme of this year’s forum was based on the application of modern wood structures in cultural, tourism and health care industries in China. The event attracted nearly 200 participants on site, and was featured online with a live broadcast on SOHU that has reached more than 400,000 views.

The Canadian Ambassador to China, Mr. Dominic Barton, delivered opening remarks at the event where he emphasized that Canada and China have had a strong partnership with exchanges on wood construction technologies. He emphasized that the environmental benefits of building with wood are important as it reduces the carbon footprint and carbon emissions. As both countries have committed to achieving carbon-neutral targets by 2050 and 2060, this is a significant area for cooperation on global climate change.

Due to the pandemic and restrictions on international travel, the wood industry representatives from Canada were unable to attend the event in person. However, they sent in remarks by video for the conference. The Assistant Deputy Minister of Canadian Forest Service at Natural Resources Canada, Ms. Beth MacNeil, said that the spread of the global pandemic has led people to pay more attention to the importance of healthy buildings and green buildings. Canada is a leader in wood construction and sustainable forest management, and the Natural Resources Canada has been committed to the innovation and development of wood structures. Through Canada Wood, the government of Canada will continue to work with Chinese partners in the fields of building assembly, cultural tourism facilities, and wood processing.

As a representative of Canada’s forest industry partners, the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Interfor and Chair of the Board of Directors of Canada Wood, Mr. Bart Bender, said that Canadian forest product companies attach great importance to their relationship with partners in China. Recently, we have seen an unprecedented demand for wood in the North American market. This is due to the sharp rise in demand for wood due to maintenance, renovations and new housing construction. Mr. Bender believes that these unexpected market conditions will be short-term and will eventually return to a normal balance. No matter how the North American market changes, Canadian companies understand Chinese markets have great importance to the lumber industry, and see that there are still many growth opportunities for the application of wood products in the construction and manufacturing industries.

The Wood Forum featured a range of expert speakers from the cultural, tourism and construction industries of China to discuss the advantages of building with wood. With the growth of China’s economy and the improvement of per capita income, people’s demand for tourism has increased, and the quality of local tourism destinations have improved. Wood building materials present an ideal solution for those seeking a break from the concrete jungle of city life to have a chance to enjoy a more natural environment. Wooden structures can offer a comfortable living environment and reduce the carbon footprint of the project.

The Chair of the China Tourism Association’s B & B Inns and Boutique Hotels Branch, Mr. Zhang Xiaojun, said that China’s rural tourism has developed rapidly, and will continue to innovate with advanced buildings and cooperation with platforms such as Air BnB. He emphasized the development of wood in the eco-tourism market, and that while the domestic tourism market is seeing growth while international travel is restricted, travelers are looking for more unique and more authentic local tourism experiences. He suggested that there is still room to improve on the quality and diversity of tourism projects in China and to incorporate new technologies, better services and more innovative designs. Local tourism operators stand to benefit from more cooperation with government and associations to incorporate more advanced wood structures in the field of culture and tourism, to merge international quality with indigenous culture local to each region.

Mr. Luo Yujie, from the School of Architecture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and Director of Sustainable Village Studio of China Rural Construction Institute, delivered a speech on the topic of growth, where wood can give architecture a new meaning – with themes of fusion, rebirth, and sustainability. Wood structure materials can be recycled, and offers characteristics that can stimulate a new vitality for the project. For the understanding of beauty, the East and the West have a certain resonance on the definition of aesthetics. With regards to wood, its unique aesthetics and structural performance can provide optimal space and strength with minimal materials.

Through a recorded speech from Canada, Dr. Graham Lowe presented research on how wooden buildings and wood decorations can benefit occupants, from improved awareness and work efficiency in offices, to improved rehabilitation of patients and the elderly when applied in medical facilities. The use of engineering with wood not only plays a structural use, but also shows a sense of design in exposed wood structures. He encouraged professionals to deepen their understand of wood construction and the benefits it can bring to health, well-being, and work performance.

The Director of the Wood and Bamboo Building Engineering Design and Development Center of the NFGA shared the prospect analysis of wood structures in the development of eco-tourism, where the concept “green water and green mountains is gold and silver mountains” holds an important significance. With the increasing demand for forest rehabilitation projects, and the inclusion of wood construction in the national urban development plans, the wood and bamboo construction industries have a strong growth opportunity in China.

The China Operation Manager of Forestry Economic Advisors (FEA), Guo Dan, brought in an economic outlook for trading in the lumber industry. She highlighted that the main application market of coniferous sawn timber in North America is decoration building materials and wooden structure houses. In China, the largest application market of coniferous timber is the construction industry, and that wood structures still have ongoing development opportunities.

At the Sino-Canadian Wood Forum, Canada Wood signed a new MOU agreement with the East China Architectural Design and Research Institute (ECADI) for strategic cooperation on the promotion of advanced wood designs in construction. This new partnership will focus on the research and development of technical standards and prefabricated building technologies that can be used to promote the application of modern wood structure buildings in China.

Mr. Wang Hongjun, GM of Second Structural Division of ECADI, along with Mr. Eric Wong, Managing Director of Canada Wood sign an MOU agreement in the presence of the Canadian Ambassador to China

The forum also included the 2020 China Wood Construction Awards. This award aims to celebrate best practices in wood buildings and to deepen the technical exchange and cooperation between wood builders. This was the fourth round of the awards, which has attracted a growing number of local wood builders to participate. Applications were received from 91 projects, with 59 projects winning awards after a committee review by industry experts. Click here to explore the winning projects.