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Canada’s forests are critical to a cleaner, greener future: FPAC


October 7, 2021
By FPAC

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Canada’s sustainably-managed forests and the carbon-storing wood products they provide are key to supporting Canada’s transition to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 – meeting conservation targets and creating the quality green jobs of tomorrow at the same time.

Canada’s forest sector has already reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by close to 70 per cent since the early 1990’s. Today, it is committed to removing 30 megatonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking nine million cars off the road, every year by 2030. This represents more than 10 per cent of Canada’s climate change mitigation target, demonstrating that Canada’s forests are a critical tool in the country’s climate change toolbox.

“Canada’s forest sector is doing its part to support a net-zero carbon future,” says Derek Nighbor, president and CEO of Forest Products Association of Canada. “Our sector is focussed on four activities: reducing the forest sector’s emissions, ensuring the potential of our forests to store carbon, growing our green economy, and providing environmentally-friendly alternatives to the products Canadians use every day.”

According to Nighbor, “our sustainable forest management practices mean healthier forests, lower carbon emissions, stable jobs across the country, and a cleaner, greener economy, all from a sector that has deep roots in Canada and world-leading scientific backing.”

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As a forest grows, trees absorb and store carbon. Then, as trees age, the forest becomes more susceptible to disturbances such as fire, pest outbreaks, droughts, and storms, releasing that carbon into the atmosphere. While such natural disturbances are normal, they are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate change, significantly increasing the amounts of carbon dioxide and other GHGs, turning forests from climate change assets into liabilities.

“Sustainable forest management through carefully planned harvesting and replanting using globally recognized practices minimizes these disturbances and renews Canada’s forests every 100 years or so, ensuring they retain their potential for storing carbon while respecting the wildlife and biodiversity that will help keep Canada’s forests as forests forever,” added Nighbor.

Canada has retained more than 90 per cent of its original forest cover, harvesting less than one per cent of harvestable forests per year and replanting 400 to 600 million seedlings annually. Canada is also recognized as a global leader in the sustainable management of the world’s most renewable resource, managing 36 per cent of the world’s certified forests, more than twice the area certified in any other country. This independent verification also provides added assurance of responsible forest practices from a country with some of the world’s toughest and well-enforced provincial and federal regulatory frameworks.

When a managed forest reaches maturity, it is harvested, and the wood can be used to make a variety of environmentally friendly products that store carbon for many years. The industry aims to be a zero-waste, using almost every part of a harvested tree and can turn a single log into multiple products, such as lumber for construction, using wood fibre to create more eco-friendly water filters, medical masks, and paper products, and converting leftover wood chips, sawdust, and bark – materials that might otherwise be considered “waste” – into biofuels that will help reduce Canada’s and the sector’s reliance on fossil fuels. Today, almost 60 per cent of Canada’s forest industry runs on bioenergy, and that number is growing.

The forest sector is also one of Canada’s largest employers, directly employing 230,000 Canadians across 600 communities, generating $80 billion in revenue annually. About 1,400 Indigenous-owned businesses included in Canada’s forest sector typically employ between 10 and 30 people and many earn revenues of more than $1 million a year. The sector recognizes the importance of benefits of creating long-lasting relationships with Indigenous peoples and the need to increase the pace of economic reconciliation.

The emerging use of technology and new approaches within the sector, alongside programs such as #TakeYourPlace, Women in Wood, the Greenest Workforce, Outland Youth Employment Program and Free To Grow in Forestry, the forest sector offers more opportunities than ever for young Canadians, new Canadians, and Indigenous Peoples to shape the greener future they deserve.

“Through innovation, world-leading sustainable practices, and a zero-waste approach, we’re working with nature to extend the amount of carbon captured from forests to build more sustainable communities, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, reimagine the products we use every day, and creating more family-supporting, green jobs for the next generation of Canadians,” added Nighbor. “Our sector is committed to creating a forestry for the future, today.”

Learn more about Forestry for the Future at www.forestryforthefuture.ca.