Best sustainable forest management practices

Sustainability is no longer a niche activity on our to-do list that needs to be explored. It is, in fact, a reality now as we find ourselves caught between the constant alarm of environmental crisis ringing in our ears and watching the climate play havoc around the globe. This has forced the world to relook its coping strategies and seek solutions that are rooted in sustainable practices. In some ways, the adoption of sustainable practice also involves a return to the basics – wood being a huge part of it.

It has been found that the construction industry alone accounts for 38% of global carbon emissions, which has led to an increasing shift to wood constructions, including houses and buildings, or wood-centric designs. Falling under the category of green construction, they are considered to be effective solutions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, water consumption, energy use and solid waste generation, among other harmful environmental impacts.

Canadian Wood leads this trend of green construction with its sustainable range of lumber offerings, which are Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Yellow Cedar, Western Red Cedar and Spruce-Pine-Fir (SPF). These responsibly sourced woods are from sustainably managed forests in British Columbia (BC), which is known to have an impeccable track record in sustainable forest management.

What is sustainable forest management? It refers to a series of actions that aims to maintain and improve the health of the forest and its ecosystem for the present and the future generations. It takes into account not just the expected ecological factors, but also social and economic aspects.

Forest management centred on ecological factors addresses environmental concerns of air quality, biodiversity loss, climate change and soil erosion, while those based on economic concerns addresses employment generation, income, trade and investments. Forest management based on social factors, on the other hand, emphasises on local communities that rely on forests for their living and addresses their concern around standard of living, jobs, security, and rights.

The sustainable forest management practices adopted in BC’s renewable forests, however, are based on scientific research, strong forest laws and execution, intense processes as well as public consultation. These include:

Less than 0.33% check on harvesting: Stringent laws and environmental regulations are in place at BC forests, one of which ensures that less than 0.33% of it (around 200,000 hectares) is allowed to harvest annually and about 200 million seedlings of native tree species are planted in a year. Apart from the mandatory 0.33% check on harvesting, the Chief Forester in the province is required to review the timber supply after every 10 years and regulate the wood that can be harvested in the numerous units at the forests.

Protection of forest’s health: Sustainable forestry at BC also involves numerous techniques to preserve and protect the forest’s natural health, apart from growing timber for commercial purpose. These include silvicultural system which includes planning, harvesting and regeneration, selection cutting in dry and steep terrains and clearcutting; the last especially helps to prevent wild fires.

New-age technology: Apart from traditional methods, BC’s forest management practices also involve new-age technology like high-tech drones and lasers to scan, monitor and safeguard the forests, its terrain as well as protect wildlife. It also addresses environmental issues through continued research and providing solutions to issues like fibre loss during harvesting and manufacturing processes and sourcing energy from residuals like barks and sawdust.

Conservation of biodiversity:  BC has over 15% of protected lands and water due to a process called land use planning, which is followed in the region; it involves the participation of British Columbians on decisions related to public land and forests. This, along with other measures, has resulted in the conservation of biodiversity and protection of wildlife habitat.

Protection of special management area: The protected lands in BC does not just end with the conservation of the natural ecosystem, it also includes special features like parks, old growth forests, scenic areas, community water sheds, archaeological as well as aboriginal heritage resources and other recreation sites.

Emphasis on forest certification: BC forest management practices place much premium on certification, apart from implementing strict legal rules and regulations. Canada is home to 9% of the world’s forests and boasts 36% of the world’s independent, third-party audited and certified forests – making it a global leader in forest certification and a respected source for sustainable forest products. The third-party certification, which lends credibility to the renewable forest, is largely based on three systems, which include Canadian Standards Association’s Sustainable Forest Management Standard (CSA), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

With these measures, BC has not only raised the bar when it comes to sustainable forest management, but has also recorded the lowest deforestation rates and managed to retain its lush forest cover for decades.

Forestry Innovation Consulting India Pvt Ltd (Canadian Wood)

FII India is the not-for-profit, crown corporation of the government of British Columbia (B.C.), the western most province of Canada. Its mandate is to promote wood products from B.C. Canada in the offshore markets and to position it as a global supplier of quality, environmentally responsible wood products from sustainably managed forests by creating awareness, spreading education through information and technical support on the wide variety of timber products available from B.C. Canada. Its brand/logo Canadian Wood was established in 2013 to reach out to the ease of understanding of its activities by its target audience globally.

This article is authored by Pranesh Chhibber, Country Director, Canadian Wood.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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