Canada’s Forests, Climate Change, and the Roles of Government and Professionals

On September 24, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources released the 2014 edition of State of Canada’s Forests, which includes “sustainability indicators” which highlight key social, economic and environmental data such as GhG emissions, contribution to GDP, and labour force growth and wage levels.

In a table showing “Benefits to the Canadian Economy”, the forest sector ranks as providing 9.34 jobs per million dollars of value added; in comparison, the energy sector provides 1.94 jobs (see http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/report/economy/16517). The federal government report strikes an optimistic and positive note, highlighting government’s role in providing financial incentives through the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program, the Expanding Market Opportunities program and the Forest Innovation program.

forestsIn contrast, a September report from the Intact Forest Landscapes Initiative states that Canada has led the world in forest loss from deforestration since 2000 (half of such forest loss occurred in just three countries: Canada, Russia and Brazil). According to Global Forest Watch Canada, the major causes of Canada’s forest loss are massive increases in oil sands and shale gas developments, as well as logging and road building. The Intact Forest project is produced by the Global Forest Watch Network, an international collaboration that includes Greenpeace, University of Maryland, and World Resources Institute among others, and uses satellite imagery technology to determine the location and extent of the world’s last large undisturbed forests.

In British Columbia, four professional associations related to the forestry industry released an “unprecedented” joint statement in July, which states, “Our members have crucial roles to play in both climate change mitigation and adaptation; their knowledge, expertise and professionalism are key parts of the solution. But they also have important professional and ethical responsibilities related to the changing climate. Professional associations have an obligation to define those responsibilities and to provide the training and structures that will allow members to meet their responsibilities to their clients and to the public”. The statement also calls on government to show leadership, and calls for a review of a range of provincial laws in light of climate change. Signatories to the joint statement are: the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP), the Association of Professional Biology (APB), the College of Applied Biology (CAB), and the Planning Institute of BC (PIBC).

LINKS:

State of Canada’s Forests 2014 is available, with accompanying infographics and summaries at: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/report/16496 (English version), and http://www.rncan.gc.ca/forets/rapport/16497 (French version)

Intact Forest Landscapes is at: http://intactforests.org/; Global Forest Watch Canada is at: http://www.globalforestwatch.ca/

Professional Associations of B.C. Joint Statement is at: http://www.abcfp.ca/about_us/media_centre/documents/Pro_Leadership_in_a_Changing_Climate-Joint_Statement_20140708.pdf; accompanying 1-page background document is at: http://www.abcfp.ca/about_us/media_centre/documents/Joint_Statement_on_Climate_Change-Backgrounder_20140708.pdf. The Association of B.C. Forest Professionals released their own position paper in January 2014 at: http://www.abcfp.ca/publications_forms/publications/documents/ABCFP_Climate_Change-Position_Paper_2014.pdf

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