Canada was built on forestry. Today, over 600 communities across rural and northern Canada continue to rely on a strong and sustainable forest products sector to support our environment, good jobs, and vibrant towns and cities.
Over 90% of Canada's managed forests are publicly owned. Each jurisdiction has developed legislation and guidelines that must be incorporated into forest management plans. In turn, our sector is subject to a strict forest management planning process that ensures a number of values across the landscape are maintained, including species at risk. Canada's reputation for sustainable forest management is among the best in the world not only because of our rigorous and ecosystem-based approach to forest management, but also because of the additional layers of certification programs and company initiatives that are subscribed to on the ground.
The fact is that Canadians understand their forests are sustainably managed, harvested, and regenerated. Natural Resources Canada recently released The State of Canada's Forests Annual Report 2017. This report highlights that of the 347,069,000 hectares of forest area in Canada, less than 0.5% of that was harvested last year. While over 75% of forests regenerate naturally, forest regrowth was supported by the planting over 574 million seedlings. This means that the sustainability of our harvesting and replanting practices in Canada will ensure we can all enjoy the environmental, recreational and economic benefits of our forests forever.
In regards to supporting social values, forest managers are required to ensure that management objectives align with public interests. Even before a tree is harvested, First Nations communities, local municipalities, and other local voices are involved at multiple stages of the planning process to ensure their values are considered. Balancing the interests of doing right by the environment while sustaining good jobs in rural and northern Canadian communities is at the core of how we work in Canada.
In a blog post last week, NRDC stated:
"Ontario doubled down on a policy that jeopardizes the future of boreal caribou and other at-risk species in the province, gifting the logging industry two more years of exemptions under Ontario's Endangered Species Act (ESA). These exemptions, as we reported in January, have severe implications for threatened boreal caribou in the province, giving industry a near-carte blanche to degrade and destroy critical habitat."
This comment grossly misrepresents what we know to be true here in Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources "is proposing that an independent panel be formed that will provide advice on consideration of species at risk in Crown forest management". This is not an exemption from managing species at risk but an opportunity to develop a solution that harmonizes with existing legislation, with all parties at the table.
Canada's forest products sector remains committed to doing our part to support the future of caribou in Canada. To learn more about our efforts above and beyond those captured by our regulated forest management plans, you can visit www.cariboufacts.ca/sustainable-forestry. Forest management is complex work that factors in many important functions including supporting critical habitat for multiple species, suppressing fires to protect communities, protecting watersheds, and fighting climate change. We want to ensure caribou plans consider the whole of ecosystem realities and impacts, and are developed by incorporating local and traditional knowledge and the unique local factors that are in that play in each specific region of the country.
Finally, and likely the most unfortunate part of NRDC's blog is the statement that forestry threatens First Nations communities. While Canadian forest products companies work closely with First Nations communities across the country, it is important that they speak for themselves. Fact is, across Canada, the forest products sector is one of the largest employers of people from Indigenous communities with over 17,000 Indigenous workers employed directly or indirectly by the industry. Canadian forest products companies have also engaged in numerous economic partnerships with First Nations communities not only in Northwestern Ontario, but across the country, working together to strengthen economic development opportunities.
FPAC will continue to work in the spirit of collaboration with all levels of government, community partners, and labour and recreation groups to establish caribou plans that strengthen sustainable forest practices, support caribou and all wildlife in Canada's forests, and provide social and economic benefits for nearly 1 million rural and northern Canadians.
Source: Tree Talk Blog (FPAC)