Today is the International Day of Forests – a United Nations-sanctioned celebration of the role that forests play in our lives. Forests are integral to the environment, economy, and culture of Alberta. Roughly 38 million hectares are covered by forest in Alberta – that’s an area slightly larger than Japan.
One of the things that we can be very proud of in Alberta, and across Canada, is our rigorous approach to forest management. The regeneration of areas that have been harvested is the law and has been for several decades in our province. Several trees are replanted for each tree that has been harvested. Alberta’s forest industry planted 65 million trees in 2014 – roughly 16 trees for every Albertan. Thanks to forward thinking policy and aggressive forest regeneration programs, Canada retains a higher percentage of its original forest cover than any other nation in the world.
Managing our forests is a unique partnership between government and industry. In Alberta, virtually all of our forests are on Crown land. In return for the right to harvest timber, forest companies are required to take into account a broad suite of outcomes including water quality, animal habitat, and biodiversity. Companies and government invest considerable amounts into forestry research and management techniques to ensure that these outcomes are being reached.