NRCan responds to deforestation “misinformation”
By Forests Ontario
April 14, 2015 — Recently, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding forest destruction and deforestation in Canada. While these issues are certainly important, there has also been considerable misinformation circulating on the subject. In response, Natural Resources Canada has released a fact versus fiction discussion on their website.
By Forests Ontario
The discussion, entitled “Deforestation in Canada: Key myths and facts” outlines several myths and misrepresentations associated with deforestation and uses scientific, fact-based knowledge to disprove inaccuracies.
Among the myths being debunked are that deforestation in Canada is increasing, that modern harvesting practices are a significant contributor to the loss of forested area, and that Canada has the world’s worst record when it comes to deforestation.
While current attitudes often reflect a general belief in these myths, the reality of Canada’s forest management demonstrates a stellar record of sustainable forest management.
Deforestation, in the true sense, means the conversion of forest to some other permanent or semi-permanent land use. Major factors contributing to deforestation include agriculture, transportation and utility corridors, or urban development.
Deforestation does not occur from natural events such as forest fires or wind storm damage. In progressive jurisdictions such as Ontario, where forests are effectively managed, sustainable harvesting does not contribute to deforestation.
In Ontario, government legislation ensures effective reforestation practices following harvesting in a highly controlled and managed environment to protect against deforestation. In fact, each year less than 0.3 per cent of Crown forests are harvested, and the government mandates that harvested areas have to be renewed by law.
While it is acknowledged that forest access roads can have an impact, it is correctly noted by Natural Resources Canada that these impacts are minimal.
In Ontario, it further recognized that there is an increasing trend toward access control and road abandonment, both of which have benefits for the conservation of biodiversity.
“Canada, and particularly Ontario’s forests, are among the best, most sustainably managed forests in the world,” says Rob Keen, CEO for Forests Ontario. “We are pleased with Natural Resource Canada’s move to actively disprove ongoing myths surrounding deforestation across the country. Forests Ontario looks forward to working alongside our partners to implement solutions to protect our natural resources and to share the great work being done by those in our forestry sector.”
Where Ontario in particular does face challenges with deforestation is on settled landscapes which, understandably, have competing land uses. Particularly in areas of southern Ontario, many forests have been converted to agriculture or lost to urban development. Programs like the 50 Million Tree Program work to combat this loss of forest by offering tree planting subsidies to landowners and connecting them with the expertise they need to help with reforestation efforts.
The program, which is administered by Forests Ontario, in conjunction with the Ontario government, is part of the Government’s pledge to plant 50 million trees by 2025 in order to sequester carbon; enhance and diversify Ontario’s landscape; increase adaptive capacity to withstand climate change; moderate local climate by providing shade, moderating temperature extremes and reducing the effects of storms; increase wildlife habitat; increase soil and water conservation, and provide local economic opportunities.
To date, approximately 17 million trees have been planted under the 50 Million Tree Program.
The conversation around deforestation is a valid one. The greatest need for action remains in southern Ontario. Fortunately, solutions like the 50 Million Tree Program exist and provide an avenue for landowners to help in creating healthy, sustainable forests. Creating a healthy environment to support healthy communities is in the hands of all people; individuals, corporations and government can step up to make changes for a healthier tomorrow.
Forests Ontario, for its part, is continuing its mission to support and promote the sustainable management of Ontario’s forests through ongoing education and awareness efforts. For information, visit www.forestsontario.ca.