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Forestry is an industry in which trees are cut down and harvested in order to create paper products such as paper, wooden furniture etc. Usually different wood products are made with different trees and are processed differently.
Environmental Conditions/Optimum Production
In order to have optimum production the forests must be grown in climates that are most suitable for that specific type of tree. Some trees take several years to harvest such as if it is a tree or vine fruits like apples or grapes. The trees that are used for making paper are cut down and harvested much sooner than those used for lumber. Even in the places with the longest growing seasons such as Southern Canada it takes almost 40 years in order to be ready to be harvested for paper. Similarly, you may have to wait 200 years or more for the trees that supply the wood to make hardwood furniture. In order to have optimal production forestry you need to be very patient. If the forest you harvest from is healthy you will do fine if it is not then you will have some problems. For example, Oak trees thrive best in regions with a Mediterranean climate – which consists of dry summers and wet winters – as well as desert-like regions and subtropical rain forests. While, Maple trees prefer a much cooler climate maxing out at around 15 degrees Celsius. (“Forest products and applications,” 2016)
A Pulp and Paper Mill in Ontario in the town of Espanola.
Canada's major customer of wood products to be exported is the U.S. and Western Europe. The North American Wood First Market is also helping to diversify its market and emerge it into the Asian and European markets. (“Forest products and applications,” 2016)
Canada’s forest products exports contribute $17.1 billion in net trade. Approximately 47% of this total value is generated from these products that we use:
Northern bleached softwood kraft pulp (NBSK) – Canada has by far the largest share of the global NBSK market. This share represents almost one-third of the world production and three-quarters of total NBSK capacity in North America. This is a very good position to have within the pulp market, as NBSK is an increasingly important pulp grade for paper and tissue production. However, the value of the Canadian dollar majorly impacts the performance, given the global nature of this market. (“Forest products and applications,” 2016)
Newsprint – The world production of newsprint is approximately 32 million tonnes, and Canada is the single largest producer. It has a current production capacity of about 4 million tonnes, which is 12% of the world total. However, demand for newsprint in North America has decreased significantly by a whopping 65% since 2000. This is a result of the majority of people reading or receiving news online or via the internet. (“Forest products and applications,” 2016)
Softwood lumber – Canada is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of softwood lumber. This accounts for 20% of the value of Canada’s forest product exports. The largest export market for Canada is the U.S., where softwood lumber is used most frequently to build houses. When U.S. housing took a fall in 2006, demand for softwood lumber plummeted. The softwood lumber demand is still recovering today. (“Forest products and applications,” 2016)
The Chinese market for lumber has increasingly gotten better and are now responsible for 34% of the total pulp exports for Canada. Japan also receives lumber from us at a very high level quality, whereas China is still making the move to better quality lumber. (“Forest products and applications,” 2016)
Other human uses for forestry include wooden furniture, paper and wooden stationery like wooden pencils etc. (“Forest products and applications,” 2016)
Challenges Facing Forestry
In the forestry industry, in order to have a very effective and abundant harvest to later create products we use, it all depends on the well being and the state in which the forests you harvest from are in. There is an increased amount of large fires as a result of climate change that is affecting Canada's Forests which has resulted in loss of jobs, damaged forests and in extreme cases for some people, the loss of their homes. Since Canada is a Northern country, our change in climate over the next few years is issued to be above the global average. How the forests will respond to this is very uncertain at this point in time but scientists and researchers are working very hard to find the answers. There are however predictions being made that given the new climate conditions, the forests have a high likelihood to evolve and be quite different from what they are now such as their species composition, average age, geographic range and growth rates in coming decades. Forest growth rates and the distribution of species may change gradually, too. Climate conditions have already affected the distribution of some tree species in Canada. The rate at which climate change is projected to progress is 10 to 100 times faster than the ability of tree species to migrate. This means that while some tree species will benefit (for instance, growing faster or spreading more widely), the others will become increasingly stressed and more susceptible to dying out over time. Also, due to climate change is the milder, drier climate that occurred and increasingly became more noticeable in the last 50 years. This is thought to be a major reason for the longer fire seasons and the increase in areas that have experienced forest fires. Most areas in Canada, for example, are expected to experience at least a twofold increase in annual area burned by forest fires and a 1.5-fold increase in the number of large fires by the end of the 21st century. This means that the average age of the country’s forests is likely to decline in some areas, with increases in the number of young trees regenerating in burned-out areas. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016)
A picture taken of the fire that took place in Fort McMurray this past summer.
Another issue that the forestry industry faces is the exposure to invasive species. In the 2000's the mountain pine beetle spread across majority of central British Columbia due to a consecutive number of warm winters occurring which killed more than 750 million cubic cm of mature Lodgepole pine (a species of tree) which is a loss of more than 10 years' worth of a regular harvest. The beetle has now been found in North-Central Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan where it has already moved into a new tree species and will continue spreading east in coming years. Currently the spruce Budworm in the Mackenzie River delta in the Northwest Territories is taking place as the highest latitude that an invasive species ever reached. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016)
There has been an increase in the rate of premature death of healthy trees in various different forest types over the past few decades which is likely the result of drought-related or other climate-triggered outbreaks and infestations of insects in weakened forests. Drought conditions have also contributed to the death and have also stunted the growth of trees in numerous parts of Canada, including white spruce in Yukon (from spruce bark beetle infestation) and aspen in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016)
These changes can also pose much greater ecological consequences as well, such as affecting vegetation and wildlife, which in order to keep up, would be required to adapt or migrate under changing climate and the changing forest habitat conditions. Given the fact that Canada has an abundance of vast and generally remote forests, the measuring, monitoring and tracking the changes in them can be quite challenging. The National Forest Inventory (NFI) is a very vital and important tool for tracking or monitoring current and projected changes in the forest. It will also become increasingly important as a way of providing early warnings of climate change impacts and tracking ongoing changes in our forests. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016)
Another challenge facing urban forestry is the tension between the national environmental community and inner-city urban forestry activists. In Washington, DC, for instance, national environmental groups are very concerned and worried about spotted owls getting harmed in practices such as clearcutting. National environmental groups could utilise their skills in the support of funding for city tree divisions and other forestry activities in their communities. This would be a good use of their skills and resources. Hill, S. (1998, Winter).
The environmental community must also work to integrate social and environmental issues. Environmentalists could use their expertise in social activism to attempt to integrate social and environmental issues because creating links between the two can be crucial. But in order to make those links we need to understand the needs of inner-city people. We must work together to create a shared space with room for different values and priorities that affect all communities. Hill, S. (1998, Winter).
The forestry industry also faces the challenges of illegally harvested timber but thankfully here in Canada there is very low risk of this occurring as there are many laws prohibiting it. But even with these laws in place illegally sourced and harvested timber is still a problem. (“Information for importers of Canadian forest products,” 2015)
Although forests are affected by climate change they can also be part of reducing it. Since trees store CO2 (Carbon dioxide) stored in their tree trunks, branches and leaves. This may help to reduce the amount GHG (Green House Gases) emitted into the atmosphere. Producing wood products using bioenergy is also another way in which we can reduce the processes that require and produce a high amount of GHG emissions, thus reducing the use of fossil fuels. Research on the effects that this drastic change in climate has on the forests and the forestry industry supplies are always improving. It may seem crazy that the forests could help to control something that is harming them, however the carbon-storing capacity of trees paired with wood products replacing fossil fuel intensive products, can make a big difference in terms of GHG emissions in the atmosphere. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016) Chapter V: Climate change mitigation and development. (2009, Annual)
Since 2008, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) has focused solely on what adaptation will mean for the sustainability of forest management. A series of the CCFM’s reports offer suggestions on what the forest managers should be doing in assessing the vulnerabilities, risks and opportunities associated with climate change. Many other forestry organisations are using these reports to inform and reinforce policies and practices. Forest Change, is just another component of the Government of Canada’s adaptation program, which was launched in 2011 to support and maintain the forest sector in adapting to the changing climate. This program provides science-based information and analysis on the past trends and future projections of climate change impacts on the forest as well as the forest sector. Its tools are helping forest managers and others in the sector develop and implement and induce the suggested adaptation plans and take action to adjust to the future climate. These methods and plans will all pose as solutions for the effects of climate change on forests. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016)
Adaptation will be very essential to the forestry industry and communities as they adjust. Harvesting amounts, for instance, may need to be reduced as more-frequent natural disturbances will reduce the available timber supply. Forest companies will be required to increase their efforts to find new creative and innovative ways to use more dead or low-quality wood salvaged from burned areas or areas invaded by insects or disease. Communities located in forested areas have already been encouraged to be “fire smart” by clearing trees and general forest brush (living and dead trees) from areas between buildings and forests in order to try an increase safety in case a forest fire may occur. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016)
A solution to a decrease in the areas with minimal trees that are legible to harvest is for landowners to plant new forests on lands not currently part of the managed forests. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016)
Forest managers could also limit on-site burning of harvest waste (such as stumps, bark and branches), using it for bioenergy purposes like bioproducts instead this will make more of a complete use of the material harvested, speed up reforestation after natural disturbances, and increase growth rates in appropriate locations through intensive management. (“Canada’s forests in a changing climate,” 2016)
Sadly, the forest fires can only be reduced if climate change is reduced which in turn will then reduce the drier climates.
Although this picture is quite simple it helps to give a better visualisation of what the trees can do for climate change.
Pulp and Paper Mills in Canada.
Canada’s forests in a changing climate. (2016, October 7). Retrieved December 10, 2016, from http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/report/18917
Chapter V: Climate change mitigation and development. (2009, Annual). Trade and Development Report, 133+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.torontopubliclibrary.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=tplmain&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA239169847&asid=4eda60f78179fcf1a2973ec92421b0a5
Clark, B., & Wallace, J. K. (n.d.). Making connections: Issues in Canadian geography (3rd ed.)
Forest products and applications. (2016, July 22). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/industry/products-applications/13317
Hill, S. (1998, Winter). Drawing strength from diversity. American Forests, 103(4), 38+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.torontopubliclibrary.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=tplmain&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA20208774&asid=700f027992a7c29244b959a8d65a1305
Information for importers of Canadian forest products. (2015, June 24). Retrieved December 11, 2016, from https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/canada/laws/17149
The economics of climate change. (1998, June). OECD Economic Outlook, (63), 193+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.torontopubliclibrary.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=tplmain&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA20792420&asid=c84f82c39d95db561a851be251ecb0dc
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