As is the custom at this time of year we pause and reflect on the happenings that have transpired over the past twelve months.
For me the most transformative trend of the year has been the encouraging acceptance of forestry and forest management as a tool to stave off the dire consequences of climate change. It seems, following the publishing of the article “Planting billions of trees around the world would be the cheapest and most effective way to tackle the climate crisis,” in the journal Science, that many others decided to follow suit. The federal liberals in their pre-election platform promised 2 billion trees over 10 years. The federal greens, not be outdone, followed suit with promises of 10 billion in 30 years. Good news for a province that has already mastered reforestation to the tune of well over a billion trees planted since 1957.
The other encouraging trend is the global movement away from non-renewable consumer products especially plastic based packaging. Forest product alternatives such as paper bags, cardboard packaging and other biobased materials including biofuels and energy sources can provide many of the solutions our world is searching for.
On the construction front engineered mass timber is providing alternatives to materials that have high embodied energy in their manufacture like steel and concrete. Wooden buildings of over fifteen storeys are now a reality and we hope that proposed regulatory changes to New Brunswick’s building codes and regulations will bring what is the most forestry dependent province into line with what the rest of Canada and developed countries have embraced as sustainable alternatives to mid rise and high rise construction.
But what we need to recognize is that the more we turn to forests to solve our problems the more we will depend on forest management to deliver these solutions. In New Brunswick we are fortunate to have arguably the best managed forests in the world. We have the highest percentage of certified sustainably managed forests than any other province. Our growth and yield tops the country as well and we are on our way to increasing our contribution to pathway one targets for conservation by doubling protected areas. All of this achievable because of forest management.
Its my sincere hope that in the coming year we will come to appreciate a bit more the work of forest managers in positioning our province to participate in a forestry renaissance to meet our challenges in sustaining our environment, our livelihoods and our communities not only in 2020 but well into the future.
Happy New Year.
Mike Legere, Executive director of Forest NB