Sustainable forestry companies

Few plants outperform a tree for sucking carbon from the atmosphere and when a tree is harvested, much of the carbon stays trapped in the wood.

Most of us love wood – the warmth it brings to our living spaces, its look, feel, and smell. A versatile building material, wood can be cut, shaped, glued and nailed. It is strong and light, performs well in an earthquake and its carbon footprint is smaller than other building materials.

Few plants outperform a tree for sucking carbon from the atmosphere and when a tree is harvested, much of the carbon stays trapped in the wood. Comparative studies show that building with wood produces 25 to 40 per cent less carbon than building with concrete or steel.

In an era of climate change, using wood makes sense. At the same time, we need reassurance that the wood we use comes from sustainable sources – forests that are managed for the future.

In the B.C. Southern Interior, we live in our forests and we depend on them for clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, timber, recreation and many other values.

A 2004 independent study, peer-reviewed by more than 20 North American and international experts, concluded that B.C. has some of the toughest forest management regulations in the world.

The study considered stream protection, clearcut sizes, how yearly harvest levels are set, reforestation laws, road building, how biodiversity is managed and how these regulations are enforced.

In all areas, B.C. ranked high in comparison to 15 U.S. states, three other Canadian provinces, Germany, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Russia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and India.

The study also found that B.C. is a global leader in third-party certification of sustainable forest operations. Overall, B.C. leads the way in North America, with more area certified than any other jurisdiction. As of Aug. 2, 2011, more than 52.6 million hectares in B.C. was certified by one of the three leading certification bodies.

Every 1000 m3 of timber harvested in the southern interior equates to more than four jobs per year.  With an allowable annual cut of 640,000 hectares, the forest industry supports over 2,800 jobs in southern interior communities. So the decisions we make about how forest land is used and managed are important.

Every decision that reduces the land available for timber harvesting potentially reduces regional income – fewer direct and indirect jobs, less money flowing through the community and fewer dollars to support hospitals, infrastructure, and schools, unless other economic activity replaces that loss with the reduction in harvest.

With a strong regulatory framework and third-party certification as reassurance, supporting local forest companies in managing forests sustainably makes sense.

With active forest companies as neighbours, it’s easy to see how forests are being managed and used. And if you don’t understand something or don’t like what you see, you can speak to someone who works and lives in your community.

During National Forest Week (Sept. 18 to 24), the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association (ILMA) is challenging southern interior communities to think deeply about their connections to local forests and the benefits of having local forest companies actively managing them. We’re all in this together.

For more information about the ILMA and National Forest Week events, please see www.ilma.com, or contact Jim Hackett, ILMA President by email at ilma@shaw.ca or phone, 250-756-3665.

– James Hackett is president of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association