On Saturday night in Montreal, Greenpeace delivered another one of its publicity stunts in an effort to spread misinformation about forest management in Canada.
Our boreal forest is a national treasure. It is a resource that we all share and one that brings real environmental, social, and economic benefits to Canada and the world.
Given the millions of people who live, work, and play in Canada’s boreal forest it is important that we work together to ensure we can enjoy healthy forests, healthy forest ecosystems, and vibrant forestry communities for the future.
It is also important that we speak out clearly on behalf of Canadian forestry workers and communities when groups like Greenpeace misrepresent the facts.
Consultation and Certification – The Canadian Way
Canadians who live in boreal communities across the country are involved in shaping our forest management plans because seeking broad-based community input into forestry plans is how we do business in Canada.
Before a single tree is harvested, First Nations communities, local municipalities, other forest users and area residents are involved at multiple stages of the planning process to ensure their views and values are considered and respected.
Canadian forest management policies, which have been independently reviewed as robust and strictly enforced, require [that] 100% of harvested areas be successfully regenerated. This is achieved through both natural regeneration processes and active reforestation activities. In 2016 alone, forest companies and provincial governments together planted over 615 million tree seedlings.
Despite these facts about Canada’s world-leading forest management policies, Greenpeace and its allies would have the public believe that the boreal forest is degraded and threatened. Their claims are dishonest and misrepresent how forests are managed and protected in Canada.
In its recently released The State of Canada’s Forests Annual Report 2018 , the federal government confirms that Canada has the most (37%) independently audited and certified forests in the world and that of the 347,069,000 hectares of forest area in Canada, only 0.2% of that was harvested last year.
Forestry Fights Climate Change
The biggest challenge facing our forests and forest ecosystems in Canada today is the effect of our changing climate.
In 2016 alone, according to the federal government’s report, we lost 24 times more the number of trees to insects, fire, and disease than what we harvested and regenerated.
This is a call to action around which we should all be rallying.
Older forests are more vulnerable to being destroyed by natural disturbances like fire and disease. Since trees in older forests grow more slowly, they are more vulnerable to insects and diseases. Older forests have a higher concentration of dry woody debris, which is highly combustible.
Rather than allow these areas to be permanently destroyed by natural disturbances, harvesting older trees creates the conditions necessary for rapid regeneration and the storage of additional carbon within carbon-storing forest products.
Forestry in Canada mimics natural forest renewal processes. Harvesting is an important tool to renew the forest, in the same way a fire outbreak would. Each stage of growth has its own set of biodiversity considerations wherein some animals, such as moose, thrive in recently harvested areas where forage is abundant; while others return once the forest has matured.
Working Together to Support Caribou Recovery
Greenpeace also falsely claims that the Canadian forest sector stands opposed to efforts to protect caribou habitat.
On the contrary, the Canadian forest sector and its workers understand that caribou are an important element of biodiversity, which is why the industry has supported over 1.5 million hectares of protected space in Northern Ontario alone and supports numerous conservation initiatives across the country.
In Ontario and Quebec, for example, over 75% of the woodland caribou’s range is off limits to forestry activity. For caribou ranges located within the areas accessible for harvest, management plans incorporate special measures for caribou.
Furthermore, within our individual forest management plans, we consider all species of birds, mammals, and fish, and critical watersheds and wetlands.
Canada’s forestry sector remains committed to doing our part to support the future of caribou in Canada, which is why the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) launched its’ recent report Forest Sector Contributions to Woodland Caribou Recovery to show our sector’s ongoing commitment and efforts to support caribou recovery across the country.
Key Partnerships with Indigenous Communities
Forestry in Canada is one of the largest sector employers of First Nations people in the country with some 12,000 Indigenous people employed – and our sector contracts with over 1,400 Indigenous-led businesses.
It is unfortunate that Greenpeace continues to undermine these important jobs and relationships as we work to support reconciliation with our First Nations neighbours and partners.
First Nations leaders have also spoken out, on the record, against Greenpeace’s tactics:
“Greenpeace, in our view, is an environmental group that goes to the extreme, that doesn’t seek a balance between conservation and forest management.” – Jack Picard, Band Council Member, Innu Nation of Pessamit, Quebec.
Canada’s working forests bring real environmental, social, and economic benefits to some 600 communities across Canada; directly employing 230,000 Canadians, and indirectly employing over 600,000 more people. Working forests and the world-leading approach to manage them will help Canada progress towards key priorities, including a strong middle class, promoting investments in innovation, and supporting the fight against climate change.
FPAC will continue to work with federal, provincial, Indigenous and municipal governments, and other partners in academia, labour and the environmental community to establish plans that strengthen our sustainable forestry practices, support caribou and all wildlife in Canada’s forests, and support our communities.
Greenpeace would be well served to revisit its tactics and engage with an honest intention to collaborate with Canadian workers and communities on solutions. We can do so much more for our country and Canadians when we are working together to strengthen our environment and our economy.