The new face of forestry
Canada is the third most-forested country in the world, after Russia and Brazil, and is the globe’s largest exporter of forest products. Rich in natural resources and ecological diversity, Canadian forests are the backbone of our rural economy.
Boreal forest accounts for about three-quarters of Canada’s forest cover and provides habitat for more than half of the country’s plants, animals and micro-organisms. This vital forest, where valuable resources are still largely untapped, has been at the heart of battles fought among governments, First Nations, dependent communities, environmental organizations and forest-products companies, to name a few.
In the wake of the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 as well as heightened marketplace and environmental concerns over the state of the nation’s boreal forest, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement marks a new age of sustainable forestry in Canada. Signed on May 18, 2010, this landmark accord will lead to joint leadership of more than 72 million hectares of licensed crown land by 21 forest-products companies — all members of the Forest Products Association of Canada — and nine environmental organizations.
Their shared responsibility is to work in the boreal forest alongside governments and First Nations, with an eye to both the environment and the economy. The challenge is to address sometimes conflicting social, economic and environmental imperatives in a way that captures the emerging economic opportunities for forest products of the highest environmental quality. The signatories of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement are committed to working together in the marketplace and on the ground to support governments in the realization of a stronger, more competitive forest industry and a better-protected, more sustainably managed boreal forest.
The six main goals of the 66-page Agreement are:
- Establish world-leading boreal sustainable forest management practices
- Complete a network of protected areas representing the boreal’s ecosystem diversity
- Recovery of species at risk in the boreal forest, including the woodland caribou
- Reduce greenhouse-gas emissions
- Improve prosperity of the forest sector and dependent communities
- Achieve positive recognition of the Agreement and its implementation from customers, investors and consumers
The Agreement serves as a three-year road map spanning the period from April 1, 2009, to March 31, 2012, with the possibility of an extension. Third-party verification will act as a watchdog to ensure signatories meet their end of the bargain.
In recognition of this landmark accord, Canadian Geographic and the Forest Products Association of Canada bring you an online interactive map. Here, you will get a sense of the scope of Canada’s forest cover and boreal forest lands and gain insight into some of the Agreement’s goals, including protecting species at risk, such as the woodland caribou, and transforming the forest-products industry across the country.