This week marks National Forest Week in Canada, and it is an excellent opportunity to recognize how the forest industry plays an important role in the health, sustainability, and future of Canadian forests.
A recent report from MEI, an independent, public policy think tank, titled How Innovation Benefits Forests, by Alexandre Moreau, summarizes that the developments in innovation and efficiency in the forestry industry has improved the overall health of Canadian forests. Throughout the 20th century, harvesting limitations, forest management initiatives, efficiency and yield improvements, and the evolution of sustainable forest management plans have created a path forward for the long-term viability of the forest industry. Forests play a crucial role in the country’s economy and the health of the forests will impact the lives of Canadians for the next century and beyond.
Natural Resources Canada recently released The State of Canada’s Forests – Annual Report 2017 reporting on the quantities, history, economic, natural, social, and environmental impacts of the Canadian forest industry. Canada is the third largest forested area on the planet and includes 347 million hectares (857 million acres) of land which is equivalent to about 8.6% of the world’s forested area. Canadian forests contain 37% of the world’s certified forests – more than any other country. The amount of forest land in Canada has been stable for the past 25 years and the reduction of forest area (.34%) over this period is not due to harvesting, but primarily due to deforestation – or the conversion of forests to non-forest land uses like agriculture or commercial development. There is an essential distinction between harvested forests and deforestation – harvested forests are still recognized as forest lands because the land is replanted or the trees regenerate naturally.
Most Canadian Forests are Publicly Owned
About 90% of Canada’s forests are classified as Crown lands. Control of forest land by local or provincial governments means they fall under rigorous laws and oversight to remain socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Mandatory forest management plans, regulated harvest levels, and required regeneration are ways that the provincial and territorial governments ensure the long-term viability of the forests. Additionally, over 24 million hectares are designated as protected forests – which limits or prohibits any harvesting.
Forestry and the Canadian Economy
The Canadian forest industry employs over 211,000 people directly and an estimated 95,000 in indirect jobs related to forestry activity. This level of employment is predicted to remain stable over the long term. Continual improvement, research, and innovation in the forestry sector are expected to result in the ongoing need for more highly skilled and highly paid employees.
The forest industry accounts for about 7% of Canada’s total exports and contributes $23.1 billion to Canada’s GDP. The economic impact of this industry is especially significant in rural and Indigenous communities where it is one of the largest employers of Indigenous people in Canada.
The forest industry continues to be a critical economic, social, and environmental leader of the manufacturing sector for Canada. New technologies, sustainable products, steady economic growth, and ongoing innovation will ensure an optimistic future for the forest products industry.
Source: Natural Resources Canada The State of Canada’s Forests – Annual Report 2017
Image credit: Two Sides North America