Canadian Forest Certification Update for 2021

Tony Rotherham (RPF B.C. and Ont. (ret’d)) has worked on woodlands operations in B.C., Ontario, Quebec, Kenya and Iran. He worked for the CPPA (now FPAC) in the Woodlands Section for 21 years and since then as a consultant, largely on private forest land policy. Mr. Rotherham notes that Canada is a global leader in forest certification. In 2020, he provided an update on Canada’s changing certification landscape. But how have things changed since last year? The short answer, he says, is that the 2020 year-end statistics on certification in Canada show little change from 2019. The minor changes can be attributed to transfers of forest management areas from one forest management organization to another. The transfer may cause a ‘pause’ in the listing of the certification. Blame fires, mountain pine beetle and COVID-19, which have caused the closure of several sawmills. The total area certified to the requirements of the three certification programs used in Canada at the end of 2020 was 183.7 million hectares (ha). But there are about 20 million ha of forest that has been certified to Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) as well as to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This ‘double counting’ must be removed to get a true figure for the total area of forest certified in Canada. The total certified area with ‘double counting’ removed is 164.3 million ha. The maximum area of forest likely to be certified in Canada is estimated to be 175 million ha. There will be some certification among the 450,000 private woodlots covering about 20 million ha, but certification of small properties is complex and expensive — most woodlot owners do not harvest every year and are unlikely to get involved. The vast majority of larger blocks of forest, whether Crown Land Forests or large privately-owned forests, have been certified to one of the three certification programs used in Canada (CSA, FSC or SFI). Rotherham goes onto say that there are several interesting new aspects of forest management that are attracting public attention. The main one that may increasingly affect forest management and the marketing of forest products is forest carbon. Forests are recognized as stores of carbon. The tree absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, builds the carbon into the wood, and emits oxygen back into the atmosphere.


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Canada’s changing certification landscape