A continuing review of the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:
1.18 Green forest vision
Canada’s incredible forest heritage – 300 million hectares or 10% of all the world’s forests – is a source of enormous national pride and economic value. 30% of the world’s boreal forests grow in Canada and this great northern forest ecosystem, covering half of our country, acts as a huge carbon reservoir and sink.
The value of these forests is difficult to measure, but can be expressed in several ways: the wood and paper products industries directly employ over 350,000 people and generate over $58 billion in sales annually – more than half our annual trade surplus. Economists estimate the value of Canada’s boreal forest at $3.7 trillion, but arguably it is priceless.
The Green Party understands that forests are the foundation of complex ecological systems performing important services that purify our air and water, prevent floods and erosion, and stabilize our climate. Two-thirds of Canada’s plant and animal species live in forests. Large expanses of forest, especially old growth forests, must remain intact to maintain natural habitats and biodiversity. Our forests also sustain subsistence hunters and those who seek recreation and rejuvenation in the wilderness.
Canada cuts about one million hectares of forest a year. We must improve our logging practices and become a world leader in sustainable management of this potentially fully renewable resource. We must extract more economic value from every tree cut and move quickly towards eliminating raw log exports.
We can reap better economic, environmental and social benefits from our forests. A Green Party government, in partnership with the provincial and territorial governments with primary jurisdiction, will require that all of Canada’s managed forests be managed sustainably and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council within the ongoing Forest Accord process.
The forest products sector is a little-known climate change success story. It has not only achieved its Kyoto greenhouse gas reductions target, it has exceeded that target by a factor of seven mainly by drastically reducing its use of fossil fuels in processing plants and generating its own power through wood waste. The Green Government will support its claim for credit. Meanwhile, all forest companies will pay a carbon tax to reflect the net loss of carbon storage from their lands or they will get a rebate to reflect net gain of carbon sinks, based on an independent audit every five years.
Working within the Canadian Boreal Initiative’s corporate, First Nations and conservation framework, we will also ensure that at least half of Canada’s boreal forest is protected, while all is maintained in a state of ecological integrity. Its value as a carbon reservoir will far outweigh short-term economic gains from logging it.
Green Party MPs will work to:
Renegotiate trade agreements so that Canada has the power to encourage more domestic value-added manufacturing of wood products by restricting the export of raw logs with a substantial whole log export tax.
Within the on-going Forest Accord process and in partnership with the provincial and territorial governments who have primary jurisdiction, shift all economic forests to eco-forestry practices, including certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
With the provinces, First Nations and the logging industry, devise incentives that promote the use of single stem selection logging and longer rotations that conserve natural forest ecosystems and grow higher value wood.
Support the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework agreement finalized in 2010 between a number of major forestry companies, First Nations and environment groups to protect at least half of Canada’s Boreal Forest in a network of large interconnected protected areas, and institute state-of-the-art ecosystem based management and stewardship on the remaining landscape.
Provide more federal funding to research the best way to harvest pine beetle-killed trees, while leaving unaffected trees, and to mitigate the economic impact of the pine beetle epidemic.
Develop a Genuine Forest Health Indicator (GFHI) that assesses the state of the forests every decade and measures changes in all forest values, including those that mitigate climate change directly or indirectly.
Promote hemp and agricultural cellulose waste as sources of paper fibre to reduce the pressure on standing forests.
Promote the use of wood waste, rather than foods such as corn, to produce bio-fuels.
Give FSC-certified forest companies a five-year full tax break upon certification.
Comments and discussion are welcomed. I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.