Forestry can be defined as the science, art and practice of managing and using for human benefit the natural RESOURCES that occur on and in association with forest lands. The forest resource is of major social and economic importance to Canadians.
Forestry can be defined as the science, art and practice of managing and using for human benefit the natural RESOURCES that occur on and in association with forest lands. The forest resource is of major social and economic importance to Canadians. In 1995 the logging, wood, paper and allied industries of Canada directly employed 369 000 people. An analysis of forest-based communities has established that for each person employed in the woods and mills in the early 1990s, 1.4 jobs were created locally and elsewhere within the national economy; thus the forestry sector alone generates jobs for over 517 000 workers. Expressed another way, approximately one job in 15 in Canada depends upon the forests and the forest industry whose workers' salaries and wages totalled some $10 billion in 1994.
Exports of forest products in 1994 were worth $32.4 billion or about 15.2% of the country's total domestic exports. Forest products' net export earnings for 1994 of $27.7 billion contributed more to Canada's positive trade balance of $23.3 billion than any other major commodity group. Impressive as the economic contributions of forest products may be, they do not fully reflect the importance of the Canadian forest resource and its management. Streamflow, soil erosion, sedimentation, fish and wildlife may all be profoundly influenced, depending on how the resource is managed.
Forests remain the home of many of Canada's native peoples and provide a domain for camping, hunting, hiking, angling, photography, nature study and sightseeing for all Canadians and visitors. Such activities generate much of the multibillion-dollar contribution which the recreation and tourism industry makes to the national economy. Forests provide an additional, although intangible, benefit: the opportunity for renewal of the human spirit.
Forest Ownership and Administration
Canada's land area (excluding water) is almost 922 million ha, and of this total about 420 million ha is forest land. Of this, 235 million ha, or slightly more than half, is commercial forest capable of producing merchantable trees in a reasonable length of time and has not been reserved for other uses such as parks. Most Canadian forest land is owned and administered by provincial governments who are responsible for about 80% of the non-reserved commercial forest land; the federal government for 10% and private owners for 10%.
The British North America Act of 1867 assigned "The Management and Sale of the Public Lands belonging to the Province and of the Timber and Wood thereon" to the exclusive jurisdiction of each provincial legislature, regardless of when it joined Confederation. However, the federal government continued to administer the forests of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and the 64 km-wide railway belt along the route of the CPR in BC until 1930.
Each province has a forestry agency, usually a branch or service located within a ministry charged with responsibility for natural resources. This agency is normally concerned with a wide range of forestry matters: forest management and SILVICULTURE, REFORESTATIONand forest research; protection against FOREST FIRESand against insects and diseases; timber harvesting; wildlife management; forest inventory; extension and information services. Forest resources on federal crown lands (Indian reserves, military bases and national parks) are the responsibility of the federal government. Privately held forest land, 80% of which is located east of Manitoba, is managed by its owners, but provincial governments may, sometimes with federal assistance, subsidize private forest management in some regions and may influence it through taxation policies, protection regulations, etc.
Canada's Major Forest Industries
Based on the 4-year period 1990-93, Canada's average annual roundwood cut amounted to 167.5 million m3 (compared to 187 m in the previous 4-year period). The 1994 wood harvest was 176 million m3taken from approximately 1 million ha constituting only about 1/4 of one percent of the total forest land in Canada. The timber-producing provinces of BC, Quebec and Ontario were responsible respectively for 44%, 20% and 15% of the total harvest. The timber produced was 91% softwood, 9% hardwood. Canada's total forest-products export income for 1994 was $32.4 billion (up from $17 billion in 1986): 70% from the US, 12% from Japan (up from 4% in 1986), 9% from Europe and the remainder from numerous other trading partners.
Canada's logging industry produces logs, bolts, pulpwood, pulpwood chips, poles and piling. In 1993 the industry shipped $9 billion worth of material, most of which was processed in Canada. Exports of raw wood materials amounted to only about 5% of total forest products exports. Japan and the US are Canada's major customers for logs and pulpwood chips. Most of the pulpwood goes to the US.
The wood industries of Canada include SAWMILLS and planing mills; shingle mills; veneer and plywood mills; sash, door and millwork plants; wooden-box factories; the coffin and casket industry; and miscellaneous wood industries responsible for producing such commodities as particle board, wafer board and cooperage. In 1993 the value of goods shipped was some $21 billion and exports totalled more than $11.5 billion. Lumber accounted for $9 billion of export sales, 72% to the US (down from 80% in 1986). Japan, the UK, Belgium, Italy, Australia and Germany were also important lumber customers.
The paper and allied industries include pulp and paper mills, asphalt roofing manufacturers, paper box and paper bag manufacturers, and miscellaneous paper converters producing such items as waxed paper, facial tissue, toilet paper and stationery. In 1994 these industries shipped goods worth $21.2 billion (down from $25.8 billion in 1989), and domestic exports of wood pulp, paper, paperboard and other paper products amounted to $15 billion.
The major export items were wood pulp and newsprint. The US was Canada's principal customer for each of these commodities, purchasing 47% of the wood pulp and almost 77% of the newsprint in 1993. Japan, West Germany, Italy and the UK also imported substantial quantities of Canadian wood pulp, and the UK, France, Japan, Germany, Brazil and Venezuela were major customers for newsprint.
No reference to Canada's forest industries would be complete without mention of 2 much smaller forest ventures, the Christmas tree and maple sugar industries. Canada's main Christmas-tree species are balsam FIR, SPRUCE, Scots PINE, lodgepole pine and DOUGLAS FIR. Some trees occur naturally and others, particularly Scots pine, are plantation grown. Canadian Christmas-tree production in 1994 was 4.25 million trees and exports amounted to 2.1 million trees valued at $25.5 million. Almost all (97%) of export sales went to the US. The leading producing provinces are Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Québec.
The 1994 production of maple syrup amounted to 20 600 litres. Nearly 90% of this volume was produced in Québec. Ontario and New Brunswick were responsible for most of the balance with smaller contributions from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba. The gross value of 1994 production was $106 million. Exports for 1994 were valued at $65 million, with the main buyer being the US (see also MAPLE SUGAR INDUSTRY).
Canada's forests are constantly threatened by forest fires, INSECT PESTS and PLANT DISEASES. Significant research, management and forest protection efforts are directed towards mitigating losses. Between 1990 and 1994, an average of 9025 fires burned just over 2 million ha of forest annually, more than twice the area harvested each year; losses of timber, together with real and personal property, runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. During the 1994 fire season a total of 9763 fires burned almost 6 million ha and in 1995 7.25 million ha were burned. Fire-fighting costs reached $270 million in 1989 and in 1994 were over $150 million. About 43% of all forest fires in 1994 were caused by people; 54% by LIGHTNING and the remainder were of unknown origin.
During the 1982-87 period, the average annual loss caused by important forest pests has been estimated at 102.7 million m3 of wood. During the same period the annual harvest averaged 164.8 million m3. This loss, 51% attributable to insects and 49% to diseases, represents a combination of tree mortality and growth reduction. By far the most important of the insect pests is the spruce budworm, followed by ASPEN defoliators, mountain pine BEETLE and spruce bark beetle. Decay accounts for just over half of the losses caused by disease; hypoxylon canker and dwarf MISTLETOE are responsible for much of the balance. In general the total losses due to fire, insects and diseases exceed the amount of wood harvested each year.
The dominant role in forestry research in Canada is assumed by the federal government, through the Canadian Forest Service. The CFS was part of Environment Canada until 1990, when the federal Department of Forestry was established. With headquarters in the National Capital Region, it operated 6 regional forest research centres across the country and 2 research institutes: the Forest Pest Management Institute at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, and the Petawawa National Forestry Institute at Chalk River, Ontario. More recently the CFS has been made part of the Department of NATURAL RESOURCES which is based upon the old Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. A forest research centre at St John's, Nfld and the 2 National Institutes were closed in 1995 and parts of their research programs were incorporated in the remaining 5 research centres.
Through departments responsible for forestry, the governments of BC, Ontario and Québec support substantial research programs. The remaining provinces generally support smaller programs. Provincial research organizations and industrial research corporations, such as the CENTRE DE RECHERCHE INDUSTRIELLE DU QUÉBEC, Fortech International in Ontario, the BRITISH COLUMBIA RESEARCH COUNCIL, the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada, the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada, and Forintek Canada Corporation, conduct a wide range of forestry and forest products research projects. Major forest-industry companies, along with industrial suppliers, also conduct some research.
University-based forestry research is closely associated with Canada's 6 professional forestry schools located at the universities of New Brunswick, Laval, Toronto, Lakehead, Alberta and British Columbia, but considerable work is also accomplished in other university departments and faculties across the country.
Forest management in Canada is concerned with FOREST HARVESTING, site preparation and improvement, forest regeneration, tending of forest stands, tree improvement, and protection of the forest from fire, insects and diseases. Forest management seeks to meld the foregoing activities with the country's economic, social and environmental objectives.
From the birth of the square-timber trade to the present, the emphasis in Canada has been on the use of public forests for their timber values. Notwithstanding forest-management commitments to sustainable development and forestry in recent years, the country now finds itself facing the requirement to carefully manage its forest resources for a wide range of values. Timber reserves have been reduced by a combination of factors, the most important of which has been neglect of forest renewal. Heavier-than-anticipated losses from fire, insects and diseases, coupled with the establishment of parks and wilderness preserves and environmental constraints placed upon timber harvesting, have also contributed.
With substantial increases in world consumption of paper and paperboard, wood-based panels and lumber projected for the future, the urgent need to deal with the sustainability of the country's timber supply becomes even more apparent. Consultations involving departments of the federal government, the provinces, the forest industry, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, forestry schools and nongovernment organizations have led to consensus regarding timber supply, market potential, research and manpower needs, the urgency of forest renewal and the formulation of a forestry strategy with emphasis on sustainable forestry.
Forest management on a sustainable basis means close attention to managing the forest as an ecosystem. Experience suggests that gains of 50-100% in wood volume are possible through application of intensive forest management on selected sites but that very careful attention is required to prevent long-term loss in the productivity of the ecosystem and its ability to provide benefits ranging from timber to wildlife and recreation opportunities. Improved protection against fire and pests will also be important and is believed capable of reducing average annual losses by some 15%.
Canada is necessarily moving out of an era of forest exploitation into one of sustainable forest ecosystem management. Demands on the forest land base have increased to meet legitimate demands for wilderness areas, parks, urban expansion, highways and reservoirs. However, if Canadians, with a finite area of economically productive forestland, are to continue to reap the economic benefits of a strong forestry industry, these demands cannot continue indefinitely and, more importantly, should not infringe on land regarded as the best available for forest production.
It is possible to manage forest land for such diverse values as recreation, timber, water, forage, wildlife, fisheries and soil conservation, but it is not easy. A complex host of technical factors contribute to the difficulty and this underlines the utmost importance of a strong research program to provide a sound scientific basis for managing the resource.
Unquestionably, most forest land belongs to the people of Canada, and it is right that their views and desires respecting its use be considered and accommodated to the point where the most desirable mix of economic, social and environmental goals is attained commensurate with the long-term sustainability of the resource. Such judgements are ultimately the responsibility of Canada's governments. When these judgements are confirmed as essentially fair, wise and practical, forest-ecosystem management will be serving the long-term interests of all Canadians.
See alsoTIMBER TRADE HISTORY.
Natural Resources Canada, The State of Canada's Forests, 1995-1996; D. MacKay, Heritage Lost, The Crisis in Canada's Forests (1985).