OTTAWA, March 21, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, made the following statement in connection with the celebration today of the United Nations' International Day of Forests, which promotes the importance of forests and trees in our lives.
"Today, I join Canadians across the country in celebrating Canada's forests and the vital role they play in our communities.
"With over 160 million hectares of sustainably managed forests — more than any other country in the world — Canadians understand the importance of forests to our environment as well as our economy.
"Internationally, Canada is a leader in sustainable forest management and the protection of our forest resources. Less than 0.2 percent of Canada's forests are harvested annually. By law, all forests on public land must be regenerated following harvest, reflecting a commitment to protecting our forests for future generations.
"Our government has taken a number of actions to ensure the continued strength of Canada's forests while supporting workers and families in the communities that depend on them, including in many Aboriginal communities. Since 2007, we have invested more than $1.8 billion in Canada's forest sector, helping to bring innovative products and technologies into the marketplace, promoting transformation and expanding markets.
"Our unprecedented $1-billion investment in the Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program has set the foundation for a greener, more sustainable future for forestry. The resulting environmental improvements at mills have contributed to a 10 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from the forest sector from 2009 levels. These efficiency gains have also led to lower costs at pulp and paper mills across the country, enhancing their long-term sustainability.
"In addition, Canada has a comprehensive strategy for enhancing innovation and competitiveness in our forest industry. Just last month, we announced a major new investment in FPInnovations — Canada's national, industry-led forest research organization — to develop leading-edge forestry technologies and products, ultimately creating and protecting jobs for Canadians.
"We are working hard to ensure that the industry can sell those products in markets around the world. Our Expanding Market Opportunities Program, for example, has played a key role in increasing wood product exports to China by 1,000 percent between 2007 and 2013. Exports to South Korea jumped 23 percent in 2013 alone, and we continue to focus on the tremendous potential in India.
"Our government is committed to continuing to work with our partners to drive innovation, promote environmental improvements and generate long-term prosperity in the forest sector.
"On this occasion, I encourage all Canadians to reflect on the importance of forests to our daily life and to our children and grandchildren."
- In 2014, Canada's forest sector directly employed over 200,000 Canadians, including 11,000 Aboriginal people, while contributing $20.9 billion to Canada's (nominal) gross domestic product and $19.2 billion toward Canada's balance in trade.
- The Government of Canada is making significant investments — $1.8 billion since 2007 — in the transformation of the forest industry. Through these targeted investments, the Government is supporting the competitiveness of this country's forest industry and creating jobs and benefits for Canadians.
SOURCE Natural Resources Canada
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