A new federal-provincial program is showing promise for New Brunswick's slumping forestry sector.

New Brunswick's entire forestry sector has been hit hard by the U.S. recession and the shrinking price of wood products. About half of New Brunswick's pulp and paper operations and sawmills have closed since 2006. 

The $500,000 trainers program is aimed at helping the remaining mill managers avoid bankruptcy.

Six months ago, the Twin Rivers Paper Company was bankrupt.

"It's gut wrenching for management," said Terry Noble, general manager for Twin Rivers Paper Company. "It's very difficult on all the employees."

Noble's company partnered with management trainers on a project after it came out of receivership. Their goal was to improve the speed of unloading woodchips from trucks arriving to the mill.

Twin Rivers could not afford new equipment, but could get trucks back on the road faster by better co-ordinating the unloading.

The result is that Noble's company pockets better than $500,000 each year by saving truck drivers time.

"A transporter of wood fibre is going to service maybe two or three mills," said Noble. "If they have to wait longer at our mill, that might cause them to lose a load going to someone else and lose revenue. It's going to enable us to become a preferred destination for wood.

Provincial Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said the forestry industry is very interested in the program.

Northrup said he'd like to use the same approach to smart management to shrink the cost of maintaining forest service roads.

"It's about $8 million a year to manage those roads in New Brunswick," said Northrup. "We're hoping to cut that down."

New Brunswick has more kilometres of forest road than paved road.