Canada is home to some of the world's largest and most diverse forests, covering over 361 million hectares of land or 40% of Canada’s total land area. These forests are some of the most valuable climate change assets we have — whether serving as a critical carbon sink or providing the sustainably-sourced, renewable products we need to reduce our carbon footprint, our forests have a critical role to play in our collective fight against climate change.
But how we manage them matters.
Canadian Forestry Is Sustainable Forestry.
Canada is recognized as a global leader in how we sustainably manage our forests.
Not only do we have among the most robust provincial and federal regulatory frameworks in the world — requiring foresters to submit 150-to-200 year sustainable forest management plans to be approved by provincial governments before a single tree is harvested — but Canada leads the world in third-party forest certification, managing 37% of the world’s certified forests, more than twice the area certified in any other country. These voluntary certifications ensure that forest management planning and practices in Canada are independently certified against a recognized sustainable forest management standard and include commitments to reforestation, promoting wildlife habitats, maintaining biodiversity and ensuring water & soil protection, so Canadians can be assured that we’re doing our part to protect the world’s most valuable climate change asset.
Why Does Sustainable Forest Management Matter?
Everyone knows that as a forest, trees absorb and store carbon. But as trees age they become susceptible to fire, pest outbreaks and disease, natural disturbances that can release tremendous amounts of CO2 and other GHGs back into the atmosphere. Though these disturbances are normal in the forest, they are becoming more frequent and severe as a result of climate change, turning our forests from climate change assets into liabilities.
That’s where sustainable forest management comes in.
When we manage our forests through carefully-planned harvesting and replanting, we not only remove the decay and debris that accelerate these climate emergencies but, because younger trees absorb carbon faster than mature ones, we renew our forests capacity to store carbon for another generation with trees better adapted to future climate conditions.
And this need has never been greater. With the projected rate of climate change expected to be 10 to 100 times faster than the ability of forests to adapt naturally, we need to be working with nature to future-proof our forests and strengthen this critical carbon sink.
From Our Forests To Our Cities
But a natural carbon sink is far from the only climate benefit our forests provide. Through innovation and a zero-waste approach, forest products can help solve some of our most pressing climate change challenges.
New technologies converting wood waste into biomass can help reduce our country’s reliance on fossil fuels.
- Wood fibre-based straws and biodegradable bioplastics can provide more environmentally-friendly alternatives to the products Canadians use every day and the single-use plastics currently flooding our landfills and oceans.
- Wood lignin can be used to replace some of the fossil fuel based bitumen used in asphalt to help build more environmentally-friendly roads and infrastructure.
- Mass timber construction can not only help us move the carbon storing potential of our forests into our cities, but can be completed 25% faster, reduce carbon footprint of construction by up to 45%, and requires less energy to heat and cool long term, helping us to address housing supply while building more sustainable communities.
And that’s just the beginning — innovation in Canada’s forest sector, driven by a zero-waste approach, has the potential to create a truly circular economy, one powered by world-leading responsible management and regeneration of this sustainably-sourced, fully-renewable resource.
As a world leader in sustainable forest management and stewards of over 37% of the world’s certified-sustainable forests, Canada can — and should — lead the world in exporting these climate solutions. Countries like Finland, Norway and Sweden have seen incredible results when they’ve harnessed the power of their forests to produce bioproducts, building materials, and bioenergy we need to reduce our emissions. And Canada can do the same, but at considerable scale, providing the world with the sustainably-sourced, renewable products that will not only help grow our green economy here at home, but expand our contribution to global emissions reductions efforts by providing other countries with the sustainably-sourced, environmentally-friendly products they need to meet their net-zero goals.
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The UN has noted that “there is no future without addressing climate change” and that our forests have a “decisive role to play”, be it in the “sequestration and storage of carbon… or in providing goods, resources and materials with a smaller carbon footprint.”
With our world-leading sustainable practices and zero-waste innovations, Canada can be at the forefront of the global fight against climate change. To find out what’s needed to get us there, visit our Take Action page today.