Opinion: Future bright for Canada’s forest products industry despite challenging 2019

According to the federal government, Canada's boreal forest covers 307 million hectares. MATT SMITH / SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
According to the federal government, Canada’s boreal forest covers 307 million hectares. MATT SMITH / SASKATOON STARPHOENIX

By / DEREK NIGHBOR, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

For forestry workers and communities, 2019 was a challenging year. Market headwinds, cost pressures and the devastating fallout of pest and fire outbreaks has put thousands out of work, and our industry has been working hard to support the families and communities affected.

As we enter a new decade, Canadians are seized with the need to take real action to address our changing climate, in a way that protects family-supporting jobs in communities that need them. Notwithstanding recent setbacks, Canada’s forest products sector is ready and able to provide innovative solutions.

Our sector is working on priorities that top the list of the federal government’s agenda. These include fighting climate change, reducing our reliance on single-use plastics, strengthening opportunities for middle class families, and advancing smart conservation. In each of these areas, Canadian forestry and our forest products sector are uniquely able to make a real difference.

The climate change fighting power of forests and forest products is widely known. Natural Resources Canada’s State of the Forests Report (2018) confirmed that sustainably harvesting trees to turn them into long-lived carbon storing wood products, and replanting younger seedlings, provides a carbon sink of 20 million tonnes.