Pulp, paper and … pancake syrup? One of these things is not like the others, but maple syrup production makes sense for Domtar’s Windsor Mill, which is finding novel (and sustainable) ways to make the most of its natural resources.
The Windsor Mill, located in Windsor, Quebec, is one of the last fully integrated pulp and paper mills in Canada, which means it owns forestland — 400,000 acres, to be exact — to support its operations. The mill manages its forests for multiple uses, but selective harvesting is only done once every 20 years. Why not use those two decades of growth to explore other opportunities?
Many of the trees on the mill’s property are sugar maples, and mill managers formed a unique partnership with local maple syrup producers to harvest the sap from those trees. Today, parts of the mill’s property sport an intricate maze of plastic tubes, which collect the sweet sap used to make syrup.
Maple syrup production began this spring, and the forest’s more than 50,000 taps have yielded enough tree sap to make 10,000 gallons of maple syrup. The mill expects to produce 25,000 gallons next year.
“There is no single path toward sustainability,” says Andre Gravel, Windsor Mill fiber manager. “Domtar foresters see much more than wood in the woods. Tapping sugar maple trees is an innovative way to use a renewable resource and improve the economy in small communities.”
Mill manager Eric Ashby agrees. “The Windsor Mill is an important part of the surrounding community,” he says. “The essence of sustainability is to create and preserve long-term value, and this partnership is doing just that. It’s a small but meaningful way to use our land to benefit those around us, and we are proud to be able to make that contribution.”
Perhaps someday, the delicious syrup you use to fill your waffle’s nooks and crannies just might have started its life in a tree on Domtar forestland, thanks to a bit of sweet and creative thinking.