Wood pellets are sustainable
The vast majority of Canadian wood pellets are made from sawmill residuals – sawdust. The rest are made from the residuals from harvesting operations for sawmills and pulp mills, or low-grade timber from forest industry harvest sites that has no other economic value. Think firewood.
That’s good news, as Canada’s forest sector is a world leader when it comes to the sustainability of its operations. Canada’s forested land represents nearly 40 per cent of all certified forests worldwide representing a total certified land base that has grown from zero in 1999 to 168 million hectares of land at the end of 2016. In fact the next closest country (Russia) has one-third the certified area, while our neighbours in the USA have just over a quarter of Canada’s certified land mass.
Forestry certification is vital worldwide to ensure forest practices are both legal and sustainable for the environment. Forests in Canada are certified by third-party organizations that ensure Canadian forestry operations are legal, sustainable and in compliance with global standards.
How much is too much?
When most Canadians ponder sustainable harvests they wonder whether we are harvesting too much. In Canada the vast majority of forests are owned by us – that is they are Crown forests managed by provincial governments. Sustainable forestry involves harvesting responsibly and respecting the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC), a controlled harvesting level set by provincial governments.
In fact, over the past decade or more, Canada’s harvest levels have been consistently and significantly below the AAC, or government set level. The annual harvest in the last 10 years has affected less than 0.3 per cent of all forest areas, according to Natural Resources Canada. According to the National Forestry Database’s 2014 findings, of the 227 million cubic metres of wood (hardwood and softwood) supply available in the country, only 148 million m3 was actually harvested.
Canada’s sustainable forest management practices include mandated regeneration, mimicking natural forest disturbances, carbon emissions, and area and volume harvested, as well as a host of wildlife restrictions.
The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) compiled Canada’s hectares of certified forest by province in 2015 into one chart with B.C. the highest at 52 million hectares, followed by Quebec with 45 million hectares, Ontario with 27, Alberta with 20, Manitoba with 11, Saskatchewan with five, New Brunswick with four, and Newfoundland & Labrador and Nova Scotia with 1 million hectares each.