Climate change mitigation requires action on many fronts and across all sectors of the economy. Forests are a great Canadian treasure and a source of life, inspiration, and endless innovative products. They also offer solutions to climate change. The Canadian forest products sector can make a major contribution to mitigation efforts.

Canada’s forests cover a greater land area than most other nations. Still, less than one percent of our forests is harvested in any given year. By law, these forests must be regenerated after a harvest, so each year, some 500 million trees are planted in Canada to regenerate forests that have been harvested. As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide and store it. Younger forests are more efficient in their uptake of carbon compared to older forests that release carbon as trees decay. It is therefore important to capture that carbon before it is released into the atmosphere. Once a tree is harvested, carbon storage continues as trees are converted into forest products, such as lumber, which stores carbon in buildings — in fact, about 50 percent of the dry weight of wood is carbon.

At EACOM, we are proud that trees harvested in Northern Ontario are processed in Timmins and used to build homes in Toronto. With growing environmental awareness, architects and builders are choosing to build with wood in an effort to contribute to sustainable development. The University of British Columbia’s Brock Commons facility is among the world’s tallest wood building, at 18 storeys, with a mitigation impact of 2,432 metric tons of CO2. FPInnovations, one of the world’s largest forest research organization, estimates that a 100,000-square-foot wooden building is the equivalent of taking 1,400 cars off the road each year.

Canada’s forests are an important carbon reservoir, and the nation’s leadership in sustainable forest management ensures they will continue to play a role in the fight against climate change.

Governments and businesses can help by developing policies and procurement processes that promote and increase the use of forest products sourced from well-managed forests. Organizations and individuals can support policies and programs that encourage the use of wood and promote tree planting activities. Individuals can also contribute by choosing sustainable forest products in their daily lives. For our part, EACOM has made significant investments in its operations to optimize the return from each tree, ensuring we produce no waste. For example, wood residues are consumed to generate energy for mill processes, replacing fossil fuels.

The uses for forest products continue to expand, from clothing to bioplastics and biochemicals to innovative construction systems, providing alternatives that can store carbon and displace more CO2-intensive products. Canada is uniquely positioned to meet the world’s growing demand for products created from responsibly and sustainably managed forests, thereby lightening the world’s environmental load.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that “In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre, or energy from the forest will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.”

Tackle climate change. Use wood.