Canada’s Natural Resources – Forests

Golden Forest by Ian Muttoo
Golden Forest by Ian Muttoo

Natural resources (including forests, minerals and metals, and energy) have been a driver of Canada’s economy and job creation for generations. According to Natural Resources Canada, in 2009, natural resources produced 11 per cent of the national GDP ($133 billion) and gave jobs to almost 759,000 employees. Canada’s forests play an important role in its economy and its international image, amounting to 1.8 per cent of the GDP in 2009, making it the third largest producer in the world.

General Information

Canada’s forest land covers 10 per cent (397.3 million hectares) of the world’s forests, and about 40 per cent of the world’s certified forest area lies in Canada, including the largest certified forest in the world (more than 142 million hectares). Forests represent 53.8 percent of Canada‘s total surface area of 738.5 million hectares (excluding Arctic ecozones).

The sector is spread across Canada but is primarily located in Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario. Forestry employed 195,300 Canadians in 2009, and it is the largest net exporter in the country. Most of forest products are exported to the U.S. (71 per cent in 2009), China (8 per cent), and the European Union (6 per cent). However, the total value of Canadian forest-product exports dropped by 21.7 per cent in 2009 to $23.6 billion with British Columbia as a leading exporter (31.8 per cent of overall export).

In 1995, Natural Resources Canada was established as a department ensuring the responsible development of natural resources, and its sector in charge of forests is Canadian Forest Service. The full list of Canadian organizations associated with forests can be found here.

Canada as an Example

Forest by Phil Whitehouse
Forest by Phil Whitehouse

The depletion of natural resources has become a major focus of governments and organizations all over the world. Maintaining the environmental sustainability of Canada’s forests and ensuring that future generations can continue to reap benefits from forests have been among Canadians‘ core values for years. Canada is setting an example in forest protection. Annually, less than 1 per cent of forests on Canada’s public land are harvested and, by law, they must be successfully regenerated. An important milestone was drafting the Canadian Boreal Forest Conservation Framework by a coalition of aboriginal groups, conservation organizations, and industry representatives in 2003. The goal of Framework is to keep at least half of Canada’s boreal off-limits to industry.

Last year, twenty-one of Canada’s largest logging companies and nine conservation organizations announced the largest forest protection blueprint in history that obliges companies to stop logging on 29 million hectares (112,000 square miles) and in return, green groups to suspend campaigns against their production.

“These conservation actions are among the largest taking place in the world today, and they mean that hundreds of millions of birds, healthy populations of caribou, bears, fish, wolves, and other wildlife will have habitat in which to raise their young,” said Dr. Jeff Wells , a Science Advisor for Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign. “Recognizing the need to protect very large areas of forest — and doing so in concert with aboriginal people and using new approaches — is a lesson that can be applied throughout the world.”

The United Nations declared 2011 the International Year of Forests and Canada’s House of Commons passed a motion to declare September 21st National Tree Day and National Forest Week from September 18th to 24th. “By passing this motion, the House will ask Canadians to spend just one day reflecting on the link between their lives and that of the tree,” said Royal Galipeau, M.P. Ottawa-Orléans, who presented the motion.

Quality Wood Supports Safe and Green Housing

Wood Housing by Pnwra
Wood Housing by Pnwra

The Canadian manufactured wood housing industry is globally recognized for its high quality and persistent position as a market leader. It ensures building safe and durable houses within the country and beyond. China has a great interest in Canadian wood — especially in its construction sector, building earthquake-resistant and energy-saving green housing. The best-known Chinese companies trading in Canada are Sino-Forest and Canada Wood China.

Senior Chinese housing and urban-rural development officials are now considering British Columbia’s contribution in solving China’s giant housing and building needs. The British Columbia and federal governments are currently co-sponsoring the construction of two buildings in Tianjin, one of China’s leading regions, for green building and economic development to demonstrate the benefits of wood-frame construction.

Forests’ Future

Canada’s forest sector has always had two great advantages: the scale of its forests and the diversity of its forests. But the world climate and social expectations have changed and the sector has slumped in the past decade. Today, Canada’s forestry is re-energizing under the Transformative Technologies Program, the comprehensive national strategy to rebuild a vibrant, forward-looking forest sector.

Natural Resources Canada announced in January 2011: “Budget 2010: Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth is delivering $100 million over four years under the Investment in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program to support the development, commercialization and implementation of advanced technologies in the forest sector—helping create a world-class industry able to compete in the clean energy economy of tomorrow.”

As forests‘ products support many communities across the country, community involvement in forest management should ensure that new approaches and technologies will be used for forest conservation and for the creation of sustainable industries.

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