Forest industry beats Kyoto targets by 44%

Montreal, Canada (GLOBE-Net) – The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has released its first Sustainability Report, describing the industry’s progress on a number of environmental, social, and economic issues, highlighted by a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 44% since 1990.

The forestry sector is vital to Canada’s economy, notes the Association, providing 400,000 direct jobs and a $32.6 billion trade surplus in 2002. Canada is the world’s largest forest products exporter in the world with 18 percent of global trade. Given this, it is also imperative that the industry pursues available opportunities for environmental and social sustainability, and that its progress is monitored.

FPAC members are the largest Canadian producers of forest products, responsible for 75% of the working forests in Canada. The association’s 2007 Sustainability Report is the first comprehensive effort to track and report performance of its members in relation to sustainability goals.

Sustainability initiatives

Energy and climate change

With public focus on climate change at an all time high, it is noteworthy that FPAC members have reduced their aggregate greenhouse gas emissions by 44% since 1990, far surpassing Canada’s Kyoto Protocol target. This is a result of improving emissions intensity, or emissions per tonne of output, by 54% while producing 20% more paper.

The cuts are a result of two major strategies: shifting from coal and oil to natural gas and biomass, and investing in energy efficient technology upgrades. Since 1990, FPAC members report that they have cut their fossil fuel consumption by 45%, now meeting almost 60% of their energy needs through renewable resources. This combined with investments to improve the energy intensity of pulp and paper operations by 18% from 1990 to 2005 to reduce the sector’s overall emissions.

Forest certification

Forest certification by independent bodies is growing in popularity as a way to ensure environmentally sound forest management and market sustainable wood products. In 2002, FPAC became the first national forest industry association to make third-party certification of all lands a mandatory requirement for members. Three certification systems are eligible: the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

At the end of 2006, nearly all of FPAC’s members had complied, with one member’s division representing approximately 1% of FPAC’s committed lands awaiting the certification following a previously conducted audit.

As a result, Canada has the largest area of independently certified forest in the world, and is fifth when measured as a percentage of forest land certified. With such initiatives, says a report produced by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, “Canada has emerged in recent years as among the world’s leaders in aggressively improving sustainability practices”. Eighty-six percent of Canada’s managed forests have been certified, with FPAC members accounting for almost 80% of the 123 million hectares certified.

Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth noted that while the move is a positive one, only 20% of FPAC’s lands are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which is considered the most stringent system and is preferred by environmental groups. FSC certification requires adherence to 10 principles and 57 criteria, monitoring environmental impact, indigenous rights, biodiversity and water conservation, and the development of forest management plans. Other results outlined in the report include:

  • A cut in particulate emissions per tonne of output by 40% and a reduction of odour-associated releases of total reduced sulphur by 50%.

  • Removal of dioxins and furans from effluents.

  • A 90% reduction in total amount of organic chlorine and other compounds in effluents.

  • A 70% drop in total suspended solids in mill effluents.

  • A cut in water consumption of 10 cubic metres per unit of production (15%) since 1999.

Also noted was the fact that forty-nine percent of all the paper and paper-based packaging consumed in Canada in 2006 was recycled, up from 28% in 1990. FPAC supports a commitment to increase Canada’s paper recovery rate to 55% by 2010.

Read the full FPAC 2007 Sustainability Report (PDF).

For More Information: Forest Products Association of Canada

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