Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Natural Resources How one organization is helping people appreciate the value of our forests.
Most Canadians live in urban areas far from the vast forests that blanket our country — out of sight and out of mind. For most people, the value that forests provide and the positive impacts they have on the economy, the environment, and our own health aren’t fully understood. But Forests Ontario, a non-profit association dedicated to forest restoration, stewardship, education and awareness, is focused on changing that.
“There are 260 communities in Ontario alone that rely directly on forestry for their economic well-being,” says Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario. “We have the best-managed forests in the world which is something we should be proud of. Not only do forests contribute to our communities economic and social fabric, they also contribute to other values such as a diversity of wildlife populations and recreational opportunities.”
A renewable resource
Our country is rich in natural resources and our forests can’t be overlooked, as they are one of the few renewable resources we have. Forests produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, locking it up in the form of carbon in trees and ultimately wood products. According to Keen, 50 percent of a tree is made up of carbon which stays in wood products such as furniture and houses, well past the life cycle of a tree.
“By ensuring healthy forests, we are helping to address climate change,” says Keen. “And by using wood, we can help displace other products such as plastics, that are more energy-intensive, less carbon friendly and have a greater impact on the environment.” He adds that the greatest threats to our forests are climate change, insects, and alternative land uses. Ensuring we maintain large, contiguous, healthy, and sustainably-managed forests will help protect against these threats.
Growing awareness will help our forests
Two years ago, Forests Ontario collaborated with several partners to launch It Takes a Forest (ITAF) — an awareness initiative designed to provide fact-based information about forest sustainability and the connection between our forests and the environment, the economy, and our personal well-being. The aim of this initiative is to improve the public’s appreciation and understanding of the forest sector and forestry in Ontario.
A recent video by ITAF highlights the importance of wood from the unique perspective of a local, Toronto-based artisan. Watch Jennifer Rong, an Ontario Wood designer, share why she’s in love with wood on Forests Ontario’s Youtube page.
“Our forests connect all Ontarians,” says Keen. “Their influence is all around us — where we live, work, and play. We have a great story to tell when it comes to the many ways in which forests make our lives better and the people who make it all possible. Through initiatives like ITAF, we look forward to sharing that story with people across Ontario and beyond.”
Follow ITAF on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation or visit ittakesaforest.ca to watch other ITAF videos and learn more about how our forests and wood products positively impact our lives.