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Sustainable Forestry’s Role in the Fight against Climate Change

“Wood is a serious solution to a serious problem,” noted Vancouver architect Michael Green in his recent address to a largely forest industry audience in Ottawa.  Green’s point, made for the Forests Products Association (FPAC), “On the Road to Paris – A Climate Change Event,” seemed to be shared by most everyone in the room.

By all accounts, 2015 was the year when the discussion about sustainable forestry’s role in the fight against climate change seemed to reach a pinnacle. However, we believe this conversation should be further amplified.

Among forest industry circles worldwide, Canadian forestry is known to be the most sustainable.  Wood harvested from our region boasts some of the lowest carbon footprints of any conventional building material.  But this information needs to extend even further, beyond our own university labs, offices and boardrooms.

To make a real impact, the benefits of sustainably harvested wood must be understood and considered by governments as part of the policy development process.  While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11) and the development of the Climate Action Plan for the Province of British Columbia are just two examples of how the search for solutions to climate change are at the forefront of many government agendas, forestry must ensure it is part of the conversation when policy solutions are discussed.

In British Columbia, Coast Forest Products Association (Coast Forest) and the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) did just that when they made six key recommendations to British Columbia’s Climate Action Plan.  The recommendations included:

  1. Embrace B.C.’s natural advantage and position B.C.’s forest sector as a solution to climate change.
  2. Incent adaptive approaches to forest management and grow the forest estate.
  3. Facilitate research, development and innovation in building systems and forest products to maximize the amount of wood used in the built environment to reduce the GHG footprint and increase energy efficiency.
  4. Explore means to improve utilization of forests to reduce waste and encourage recycling of forest products.
  5. Ensure carbon pricing (tax) increases are thoughtfully phased in and that any increases are implemented as revenue neutral to the forest products supply chain.
  6. Explore progressive regulatory and other creative, not-carbon tax approaches that accelerate investment in innovation and technology to reduce GHG impacts, advance the transition from carbon intensive energy sources and lower CO2 emissions.

As the Climate Action Plan develops further, enacting these recommendations will support a sustainable forest industry in our province that has the ability to continue to produce low impact carbon products.  As we enter a new era when addressing climate change solutions is of the highest priority, let us all be enlightened ambassadors of the sustainable forest industry and actively share our knowledge with those around us – to the benefit of us all.

Start now by sharing these links with your friends, colleagues and family.

On the Road to Paris – Climate Change Event (Video)
Coast Forest Carbon Fact Sheet (pdf)
Vancouver Sun Op-Ed by Paul Lansbergen, Acting President and CEO, FPAC