Much world attention has been focused on the issue of climate change and the impacts it may have on our environment, biodiversity and people.
Some science links climate change to factors involving greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide which is absorbed by plants and stored in very substantial quantities in trees and forest soils.
Ontario’s forests, including the vast Boreal, are enormous carbon banks as well as a critically important source of economic and social prosperity for more than 200 Ontario communities.
Forestry produces the raw materials for the manufacture of an awe inspiring array of products we use every day, ranging from hygiene products such as tissue, to wood that builds and beautifies our homes. With annual sales of $19 billion a year, tax contributions of over $2 billion and direct and indirect employment of over 200,000 people in Ontario, forestry is second only to the automotive sector in terms of balance of trade.
In the future, forests may also hold the key to our energy needs, producing alternative fuels such as ethanol and bio diesel.
From the perspectives of environment, climate change and economy, it makes good sense to ensure our forests are well managed, and Ontario boasts some of the world’s best forest management practices.
When it comes to reducing greenhouse gasses and sustainable resource use, forestry is quickly gaining recognition as holding enormous potential. The carbon stored in wood remains stored in the products manufactured from our forests – the construction studs, window frames, doors and flooring can last decades or even centuries. Carbon also remains stored in the paper, tissue and a host of other wood based products we use every day. In the meantime, the trees that are harvested are replanted and are accumulating and storing carbon as we use the products we’ve already harvested.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the carbon stored in Ontario made wood products is 4-5 times greater than the carbon stored on our forests. It is also interesting to note that Canada and Ontario retains over 90 percent of the (pre European) original forest cover.
Further, wood products are often reusable and recyclable, and, as such, are important in achieving reduced energy and resource consumption. Industry itself has risen to the challenge, reducing its green house gas emissions dramatically since 1990, achieving overall decreases that exceed the Kyoto protocols.
See what NRCAN says about forestry's impact on greenhouse gas emissions.