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Canada’s forests critical to a cleaner and greener future, says FPAC


October 12, 2021
By P&PC Staff

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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, the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has stated in a release. FPAC notes that this will help meet conservation targets and create the quality green jobs of tomorrow.

Since the 1990s, Canada’s forest sector has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 70 percent. The sector is currently committed to removing 30 megatonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year by 2030. This amounts to over 10 percent of Canada’s climate change mitigation target.

“Canada’s forest sector is doing its part to support a net-zero carbon future,” said Derek Nighbor, president and CEO of FPAC. “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. 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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Natural disturbances are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. Such disturbances are increasing the amounts of carbon dioxide and other GHGs, turning forests from climate change assets into liabilities, stated FPAC.

“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 percent of its original forest cover, harvesting less than one percent of harvestable forests per year and replanting 400 to 600 million seedlings annually. Canada manages 36 percent of the world’s certified forests.

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 one. It uses 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 percent of Canada’s forest industry runs on bioenergy.

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.

“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.”