What is sustainable forestry?
Sustainable forestry ensures that a forest can be used forever by people, but not at the expense of the health of the forest and its wild inhabitants.

Sustainable Forestry is a term used by many different countries and communities all over the world. For most, sustainable forestry includes forestry practices that:
are sustainable far into the future
consider economic, environmental and cultural concerns
strive for the long-term health of a forest and its resources
strive for the ecological integrity of the forest itself

The Values of Forests
Forests are crucial to people everywhere. It would be impossible for you to get through a day without using something that came from a forest, (for example, furniture, toilet paper, and books to name a few!) It is critical for human survival to sustain forests for those reasons alone. Forests also affect the environment we live in. Healthy forests ensure healthy streams and rivers (we cannot live without clean drinking water). Forests are home to wild plants and animals. Plants, anima Read More
What is sustainable forestry?
Sustainable forestry ensures that a forest can be used forever by people, but not at the expense of the health of the forest and its wild inhabitants.

Sustainable Forestry is a term used by many different countries and communities all over the world. For most, sustainable forestry includes forestry practices that:
are sustainable far into the future
consider economic, environmental and cultural concerns
strive for the long-term health of a forest and its resources
strive for the ecological integrity of the forest itself

The Values of Forests
Forests are crucial to people everywhere. It would be impossible for you to get through a day without using something that came from a forest, (for example, furniture, toilet paper, and books to name a few!) It is critical for human survival to sustain forests for those reasons alone. Forests also affect the environment we live in. Healthy forests ensure healthy streams and rivers (we cannot live without clean drinking water). Forests are home to wild plants and animals. Plants, animals and people are all linked through ecosystems that exist within and out of forests. For some people, including some First Nations, forests are also places of spiritual and cultural significance.

In the past, forests were managed mainly for their economic values. This is no longer seen as a viable way to manage forests. Because of this, B.C. now has some of the strictest forest management practices in the world. Increasingly, especially in B.C., steps are being taken to guarantee that forests are managed sustainably.

Certification
Consumers in Canada and other nations are looking for guarantees that the forest products that they buy are from companies and forests that are being managed sustainably. The certification process is one way to address this.

On the coast of B.C. more than half of the annual allowable cut is from forests certified by one of three independent organizations. These organizations put their stamp of approval on a product if there is adequate re-planting of forests, proper public land-use processes, and laws are followed and there is no illegal logging. The certification process gives consumers around the world the chance to support companies that have been certified, and support sustainable forestry practices in B.C. The high level of certification of B.C. forest products is good for Canada’s forests and international reputation.

© 2006, British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Sustainable Forest Management looks at not just the trees, but the whole ecosystem

Sustainable forest management is a subset of sustainable management. Sustainable management was first defined in a very public way by the Brundtland Commission over a decade ago. They defined it, and I like this definition, as using resources without unduly restricting the access of future generations to the same resources. Or, using things without using them up. That would be sustainable management, it applies to a lot of different fields. Sustainable forest management would be forestry management so that the resources associated with the forests will also be available to future generations. Forest management involves a whole host of activities. In British Columbia, we log about 150-200,000 hectares of forests each year. That’s a fairly sizable portion. Obviously that has an impact on the forests. Those areas are regenerated to grow back younger forests, but in logging older forests and regenerating younger forests, you change the structure and composition of the stands, you change the habitat that is available for wildlife, you change the recreational activities that people want to do around those sorts of forests, you change the stores of carbon and nitrogen and the forests ecosystem. You change a whole host of things during those activities. And it is looking at that whole suit of resources, not just the trees and the timber, but the forests and the recreational activities, the wildlife habitat and the water quality. Everything that goes with the forest is all a component of sustainable forest management. You are not just trying to sustain the trees or the timber, you are trying to sustain all of the resources associated with the forests.

British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre
British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre, Andy MacKinnon, BC Forest Service
c. 2000
British Columbia, CANADA
© 2006, British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Trees produce their own food and contribute to the ecosystem.

Clever students will remember that plants are the only organism that can make their own food. All other forms of life, animals and fungi and microbes all depend on the food that is produced by plants. Trees are plants. So trees can produce their own food as well. They go through a process called photosynthesis by which they pull carbon dioxide out of the air and they combine it with water and sunlight to make sugars, which are stored in the tree and shared through it’s roots to other organism around the roots. They are generally used to build the mass of the tress. The tree in growing, in building wood and foliage and other tissues is pulling carbon dioxide out of the air, and it is using it to make tree tissues. Trees, in particular, are important because of their size and because we live in a forested province, these trees are pulling carbon from the air and using it to produce tree tissue. The trees in the forests and all the plants, though primarily the trees, are an important store of carbon – a mature forest has a whole bunch of carbon tied up in wood – in the tissue of the trees. If you go in and remove the trees from the site, you remove all the carbon stores from the site. So that greatly affects the amount of carbon that remains in the ecosystem. If you regenerate it through younger trees, which is what we do with sites that are logged in British Columbia, then these younger trees will then commence to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and use it to build their tree bodies. In fact, a lot of these younger trees will be able to remove carbon from the air more quickly then some of the older forests. However, that doesn’t mean there is a net carbon gain from logging old growth forests and replacing them with young forests. In general, there is so much carbon that is stored in dead material, in the older forests, than the standing trees, that the effect of logging these old growth forests and replacing them with younger forests often leads to a net release of carbon into the atmosphere. It is a very complicated issue, there is a lot of debate about it. You will be able to find websites that argue it both ways. A lot of it has to do with what they do with the carbon they remove from the site. You can imagine the site is logged, people cut the trees down and take them to a mill and make them into lumber. The lumber is then taken and used to build a house, build a school, something like that. That carbon that is in the wood will probably remain as 2 by 4’s in the walls of the house or the school for decades. Perhaps for a century. So, the carbon isn’t released back into the atmosphere anytime soon. If, on the other hand, the wood that is removed from the site is used to make pulp and paper, or something like tissue paper or toilet paper, it can find itself back in the atmosphere again within a year. One of the effects that is difficult to model in trying to figure out where all the carbon is going, is just what the products that are removed from the forests, the tree trunks, are used to make. And that is a really important determent in how long it takes the carbon to get back into the atmosphere and that’s important from a global carbon cycling point of view.

British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre
British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre, Andy MacKinnon, BC Forest Service
c. 2000
British Columbia, CANADA
© 2006, British Columbia Forest Discovery Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

After using this object students will be able to:
- describe sustainable forestry
- identify one way that sustainable forestry has affected Canada’s international reputation.

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