Benefits of forestry
In April, we celebrate Earth Day so your Environment Committee would like to share some information about the beneficial impacts of forest operations and wood products on the climate. As you may know, Sioux Lookout is located in the heart of the Boreal Forest that is considered the largest intact forest ecosystem in the world, and stores a minimum of 229 billion tonnes of carbon (Carlson et al. 2009).
Trees absorb and store carbon in the wood; young trees absorb at a much faster rate as they are growing and, although they continue to store the carbon, the rate of absorption decreases as they age. As trees become old, they are more susceptible to natural disturbances such fire, insects, disease, and harsh weather conditions like drought or wind storms. When trees either burn or decompose the carbon is then released back into the atmosphere. Changes in climate are increasing the frequency and severity of these natural disturbances and in turn increasing the rate of carbon being released.
So how can forest harvesting help? Ontario manages about 60 per cent of the forested area in the Province and implement sustainable forest management. Management plans maintain long-term wood supplies, keep a balance of road construction versus decommissioning, ensure renewal of harvested areas and protect sensitive habitats including old growth forests and peatlands. Harvesting can also help to mitigate the release of carbon and help to offset some of the emissions produced by non-replenishable fossil fuels. More benefits of sustainable forest management include, but are certainly not limited to:
Revenue to the Province and supports education, health care and social programs
Employment to forest dependent communities
Limits fuels for forest fires and insect/disease outbreaks, reducing carbon release
Long-term storage of carbon in harvested wood products such as saw logs, composite wood, pulp and paper and other value-added products.
Waste products (biofuels) provide an energy source for operations and production
Replaces old, slow carbon absorbing trees with young, high carbon absorbing trees
The State of Ontario’s Natural Resources – Forests 2016 report found on Ontario.ca is a good resource for reviewing the efforts of forest managers and the direction of future plans.
the Sioux Lookout Municipal Environment