A report from the IVEY Foundation and the Canadian Boreal Initiative
Canada is a country of forests. We have the world’s largest intact forest area in our northern boreal and our temperate and mountain forests contain biodiversity, climate control and economic values that are globally significant.
Climate change will, and is, having a profound impact on these forest ecosystems. Many impacts, such as increases in average temperature and seasonal shifts, are happening in a more compressed timeframe than originally projected by climate scientists. Insect outbreaks, such as the mountain pine beetle, are occurring at a scale that was unimagined ten years ago and some scientists are beginning to warn that many ecosystems may have a “tipping point” beyond which their resilience will be overcome and completely new ecosystems will replace them. Clearly climate strategies in Canada must include those that address the role of this massive and globally significant forest asset.
In parallel to these changes in the natural world, society is rapidly accelerating its discussions concerning how to mitigate against rising carbon emissions and climate change impacts. As a result governments, business and civil society are accelerating discussions concerning how to develop an effective mechanism to reduce carbon emissions. Strategies under development include an abundance of voluntary, and a few regulatory, frameworks. While none are identical, many of them contain carbon trading measures that would enable transfers of money from emitters to entities that could sequester or reduce the net rate of carbon emissions. Most of these systems include forests.
In Canada there is a need to grapple with this emerging market and determine how it can be influenced and directed in a manner that supports the carbon storage and sequestration capacity of forests and conserves forest biodiversity, while helping to reduces our total country-wide carbon emissions (not just those of forests). How to do this involves a strategic discussion among leading advocates for policy reform. It is only in this way that we can arrive at a consensus on the key elements of a carbon reduction strategy that includes forests and a plan to secure the outcomes we seek.