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Misleading Report -Canada’s Forest Sector Responds

Earlier today, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Nature Canada jointly released a misleading and damaging report on Canada’s GHG emissions. Derek Nighbor, President and CEO, Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) issued the following statement in response:

Last week, economists from the Royal Bank of Canada confirmed their expectation that Canada will enter a recession in the first quarter of 2023. This presents unique challenges for working families in rural and northern Canada where economic prospects are often limited to a few key industries like agriculture, energy, mining, and forestry.  

In hundreds of these communities across the country – from Prince George, BC to Corner Brook, NL – the forest sector is a central economic driver and provides jobs to over 200,000 Canadians. Beyond its economic contributions, Canadian forestry is known globally for its responsible harvest practices, high quality products, and its ability to help build a lower carbon economy. Canadian foresters also play an essential role in mitigating growing fire risks, protecting carbon rich wetlands, building with renewable, carbon-storing wood products, and creating environmentally friendly products from what would otherwise be wood waste.

Nordic countries show us how boreal forests can be managed to maximize carbon storage, even in a warming climate. Although their forests are much smaller, Finland and Sweden harvest six to eight times the timber volume per forested hectare than Canada does. At the same time, the net annual increase in stored carbon in Sweden’s forest is so large it reduces national GHG emissions by 70%. These Nordic governments have done something that Canada has not. In developing their climate plans, these leaders have worked with key industries like forestry to build sector-specific plans to maximize environmental and economic outcomes.

While we were disappointed to see another misleading report on forestry issued by the US-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Nature Canada, we were not surprised. Both NRDC and Nature Canada fundraise on their anti-Canadian forestry campaign rhetoric.  

It’s worth noting that staff in NRDC’s New York, Washington, and San Francisco offices suggest they care about Canada’s forests and Canadian workers, even as they actively lobby multiple US states to encourage state legislators to restrict Canadian forest products coming into those states. For reasons that are difficult to understand, Nature Canada has chosen to be a willing partner.

Let’s be clear. Canada has a forest carbon problem that is caused by the worsening natural disturbance patterns we are seeing through drought, pest outbreaks, and catastrophic wildland fire. It’s a growing problem impacting forest health and resiliency, human health and community safety, and we urgently need constructive solutions – not deliberately misleading attacks.

FPAC continues to call on the federal government to follow the Nordic examples and work with our sector to develop a comprehensive plan for Canadian forestry, even as we contribute to the federal National Adaptation Strategy (NAS), which is a key deliverable and discussion matter at the upcoming COP 27 global climate conference next month in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Canadian forestry needs an NAS that minimizes climate-driven disturbance by actively reducing disturbance risk and supporting forest operations that maximize long-term carbon storage performance. This means increased timber harvests that value carbon and forest health – and the creation of new markets for low-grade wood fibre, including via thinning and residual biomass. It also means more forestry – not less. Forestry that will accelerate economic reconciliation with Indigenous communities, keep communities safer from fire risks, support biodiversity conservation and important ecosystem values, and provide good-paying jobs and careers in the rural and northern Canadian communities that desperately need them.

FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, paper, and wood-based bio-products producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. As an industry with annual revenues exceeding $75B, Canada’s forest products sector is one of the country’s largest employers operating in over 600 communities, providing 225,000 direct jobs, and over 600,000 indirect jobs across the country.