Nature-based solutions to climate change

As Canada’s forest sector continues to evolve it is subject to the effects of many global forces. A changing climate is one factor that will provide opportunities for, and present major threats to, Canada’s forests, their economic and environmental benefits, and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. In response, there is an ever-growing demand for nature-based solutions to climate change. Forests are probably the most well-known nature-based solution for climate change along with other high-carbon ecosystems.

Nature-based solutions harness the power of nature to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help us adapt to the impacts of climate change. They are win-win solutions that involve protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing ecosystems to address society’s challenges, promote human well-being and improve the environment.

Forests: A stabilizing force for the climate

The role of forests in climate change is two-fold: acting as a cause (source) and a solution (sink) for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The impacts of climate change on Canada’s future forest GHG balance are difficult to predict. Regionally, impacts can be both positive (enhanced forest growth and therefore greater carbon sinks) and negative (higher mortality, more wildfires or insect outbreaks).

Natural disturbances significantly affect the ability of Canada’s managed forest to consistently absorb more CO2 than they emit. Changes in forest management can contribute to mitigating the impacts of climate change, and to the reduction of emissions through how the forest is managed and wood is used.

Forest-based products and carbon storage

When thinking about Canada’s forests, most people think of endless landscapes of conifers and stands of maple absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and storing it in the tree’s wood. But the truth is, carbon storage does not occur strictly in growing trees — products manufactured from forest biomass also continue to store carbon. The combination of sustainable forest management along with the strategic use of forest resources means that carbon can be stored for decades.

Canada’s bioeconomy: transformation & innovation in mitigating climate change

The heart of the Canadian forest sector is traditional forest products, including lumber, other solid wood products, pulp and paper, and activities such as forest management and logging. However, with Canada’s commitment to clean technology and the transition to a low-carbon economy, non-traditional and innovative forest products are growing in importance as part of Canada’s ever-growing bioeconomy.