Canada is a forest nation.
From coast to coast we boast over 250 million ha of productive forest lands that span 8 main forest regions and represent 10% of the earth’s forests. Our forests provide habitat for countless wildlife species, serve as a filter for the earth’s largest supply of fresh water, and provide unique recreation and spiritual values. All this while creating more than 200,000 Canadian jobs in the lumber, pulp and paper industries.
This is why responsible, sustainable forest management remains a top priority for the forestry industry and our federal and provincial governments.
This focus on good forestry practice has allowed forestry professionals to evolve and develop over time while remaining true to their core mission: ensuring the careful and sustainable management of the environmental, economic, and social value found in our forests. By considering all options and individually evaluating each stand throughout its growth, forestry professionals create long-term 80-100 year plans that ensure our forests are renewed and healthy for generations to come.
Economic benefits and jobs related to the use of our forest resources are derived through the harvesting of about 740,000 ha across Canada each year (0.3% of our productive forest land-base). This is less than 1/5 of the annual area consumed by wildfires and less than 4% of the area affected by insects. The amount of forest that is considered available for harvest is carefully calculated by taking the annual growth of the forest, and subtracting the losses to fire, insects, diseases and other causes. Like a bank account, the forest is considered to be managed sustainably when the capital (growing stock) is maintained and no more than the interest (net growth) is harvested.
The use of thoroughly researched best practices allows our forests to be sustainable, healthy and productive throughout their lifecycle. Some examples of these best practices include:
Canada has many different forest types within 8 main forest regions. Spruce and pine species make up nearly 60% of our forest cover, by volume (http://nfdp.ccfm.org/), and provide important raw materials for the forest industry, as well as critical wildlife habitats for many species. (Photos: Doug Pitt).
Some conifers require partial sunlight to survive and grow, such as white pine and red spruce. Selection harvesting, like this shelterwood cutting, create small openings in the mature over-story, similar to those created by small disturbances such as light to moderate fires, scattered disease and wind-throw. (Photos: Doug Pit).
However, forest management continues through the entire lifecycle of a stand of trees. Forest Managers use many other techniques to help ensure forest stands remain healthy from seedling to mature forest. These can include:
A spruce regeneration site, re-planted following a clear-cut harvest.
Tending (Vegetation Management) to reduce competition through use of tools such as controlled burns, cutting, and herbicides;
Thinning to control species composition and tree spacing for good growth through selective cutting;
Protection from fire, insects and disease.
By using a carefully planned and regulated set of these techniques, Forest managers ensure that Canadian forests remain a healthy patchwork mosaic of different forest types and ages. This allows forests to be naturally resilient to disturbances, while also providing native wildlife with the diversity of habitats they need to thrive.
Canada continues to be a world leader in sustainable forest management practices. Through continued scientific research, government oversight, and responsible use of these best practices, our forests can continue to provide sustainable economic, recreational, and conservation benefit for generations to come.