Tree planting is critical to forestry’s past and future
Edmonton – Members of the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA) planted 80 million coniferous tree seedlings in forests throughout the province in 2017. This means that for every Albertan, 19 trees were planted during this year’s spring and summer planting season.
“Our Association is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year,” said AFPA President and CEO Paul Whittaker. “Planting trees is an important part of our past and our future. In many areas, forest companies are now harvesting trees that were planted by pioneers in the industry several generations ago. By planting today, we are ensuring sustainable forests for future generations of Albertans.”
Honourable Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, congratulated the Association on their commitment to healthy forests. “80 million trees is an impressive feat. Our government is committed to working with AFPA members to maintain healthy forests that create jobs and provide a place for recreation and cultural activities. I am very proud to say that Alberta has some of the most sustainably managed forests in the world.”
In additional to promoting environmental sustainability, tree planting is also good for Alberta’s economy. Tree planters, who are often youth and post-secondary students, worked 40,500 person days in 2017. Other sectors, including tree nurseries, equipment suppliers, environmental consultants, restaurants, and hotels also benefit from tree planting activity.
The AFPA is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this week at the Association’s Annual General Meeting and Conference in Jasper. In addition, Canada’s National Forest Week runs from September 24-31.
More information can be found on our website at albertaforestproducts.ca.
The Alberta Forest Products Association is a private, non-profit industry organization, representing lumber, panelboard, pulp and paper, and secondary manufacturing wood products companies operating in Alberta. AFPA member companies are active participants in sustainability advancements that contribute economic, environmental, and social benefits for Albertans.
Since 1960, forest companies have been legally mandated to reforest harvested areas in Alberta. Reforestation must occur within two years of harvesting. Tree planting operations in Alberta typically occur between May and August, when conditions are right to plant trees and promote their survival through the winter months. Forest companies monitor trees for up to 14 years after planting, and conduct all work needed to help ensure survival to full maturity and successful forest renewal.
Growing trees to full maturity takes approximately 50 to 100 years, depending on species and climatic conditions. Forest companies must harvest trees at a level that is sustainable – that is, within the rate of forest regrowth. Less than 1% of Alberta’s commercial forest land base is harvested each year.
From an ecological perspective, forests that have a mixed composition of species and age classes are desirable. Forests that are uniformly old are less resistant to fire and pest invasions. Sustainable harvesting and reforestation are important forest management tools. Replanting operations aim to restore harvested areas to their natural state. Tree species are selected to ensure a natural and diverse balance. Planting trees is one technique that forest companies use to regenerate Alberta’s forests. Certain species, like aspen, regenerate naturally after harvesting.
Healthy forests also play an important role in mitigating climate change. As young forests grow, they sequester carbon. Storing this carbon in sustainable forest products removes in from the atmosphere indefinitely. A six-storey wood-framed apartment stores the same amount of carbon that 672 cars generate in a year of typical driving.
More information on Alberta’s sustainable forest management policy can be found on Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s Forest Management Page.
Facts and Figures
· In 2017, forest companies planted 80 million trees. This works out to an average of 19 trees for every man, woman, and child in Alberta.
· Forests cover approximately 38 million hectares or 60% of Alberta. 38 million hectares is roughly the same size as Japan.
· The forest industry directly employs 19,600 Albertans and creates spin-off employment for thousands more.
· On average, the industry replants more than 2 trees for every 1 that is harvested. This helps to ensure long-term forest health.
· Forestry generates over $5 billion for Alberta’s economy and supports 70 communities throughout the province.