Ecosystem-Based Sustainable Forestry & Climate Change

West Fraser is committed to climate-smart forestry: growing forests absorb large amounts of CO2

  • Renewal: We reforest where we harvest, planting more than we take. 63.4 million native tree seedlings planted in 2019 in Canada.
  • Reforestation: 99.2% of sites meet legal reforestation milestones within 5 years
  • Responsible timber sourcing: 100% certified supply chain
    • All timber from any origin is traced to ensure it comes from responsible, legal sources – read more about chain-of-custody certification

Our Approach to Forestry

As they grow, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and in this way, biogenic carbon is captured in wood. Forests and the forest sector have a significant role in climate change adaptation and mitigation through the capture of CO2 in forests and wood products, building with wood and energy substitution. 

West Fraser’s ecosystem-based, sustainable forest management approach aims to increase the climate benefits from forests, create economic opportunity and manage forest lands in a way that supports multiple other values, such as biodiversity, cultural use, conservation, and recreation. We plant more trees than we harvest, renewing thriving, diverse forests for future generations.

Forestry activity that mimics natural disturbance patterns is climate-smart forestry.  The sustainable forest management practices we employ can approximate the natural disturbance regimes of fires and pests when followed by the re-establishment of young forest cover.

“Sustainable forest management can prevent and reduce land degradation, maintain land productivity, and sometimes reverse the adverse impacts of climate change on land degradation. It can also contribute to mitigation and adaptation, reducing and reversing land degradation.”

 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report on Climate Change and Land (Summary for Policy Makers, section B5, 2019)

 

An ecosystem-based approach to sustainable forest management means West Fraser:

  • Participates in climate change adaptation and mitigation by supporting the regeneration of resilient, climate-adapted, diverse forest ecosystems
  • Grows forests by replacing more trees than we harvest. Planting about two trees for every harvested one, 63.4 million native seedlings in 2019, 1.8 billion since 1955
  • Considers and integrates climate change risk in planning forests and forest operations,   
  • Manages for forest biodiversity and health, supporting forest landscape resiliency to climate change and disturbance
  • Works to maintain or improve forests’ productivity. Increasing growth and yield improves forests’ ability to absorb carbon and long-term economic sustainability in the forest sector

West Fraser responsibly manages and sources the timber processed in our facilities. We know the source and supply chain for all of the Company’s timber supply. Where we manage natural forest lands, we practice sustainable forest management that is globally recognized, audited and independently certified.

Forestry for Forests: More About Sustainable Forest management

Healthy, abundant forests sequester more carbon per unit area than almost any other type of land cover. West Fraser manages forests with the goal of ensuring these forests remain resilient and vibrant so that they will continue to provide environmental, social and economic benefits for society and for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

A changing climate has many effects on the health and growth of forests, their capacity for storing carbon, and the frequency and severity of natural disturbances, including insects, disease, droughts, floods and wildfires. Climate change effects on tree species will be ongoing, cumulative, and interactive. Active forest management is increasingly credited for the important role it can play in mitigating and adapting to a changing climate.

From the Government of Canada:  Sustainable forest management is managing the forest to maintain an ecologically-sustainable and socially desired balance of values. Forests in Canada are managed for a variety of economic, ecological, and social benefits for both current and future generations.  Canadian protected forest areas are growing. Most forest cover loss characterized as temporary due primarily to natural disturbances, such as fire and insects. Canadian reporting of forest carbon emissions separates the effect of human and natural disturbances on forests.  Canada’s GHG reporting to the IPCC shows forests managed for timber production are a carbon sink, locking up a net 20 million tons of CO2e in 2017.

 

Our goal is that all the values currently in a forest (such as recreation, biodiversity, habitat protection, and clean water) will also be there for future generations to use. Like a smart long-term investment, good forest management is about protecting the balance and withdrawing only interest. The forest is the balance, and forest growth each year is the interest. After accounting for natural disturbances (like wildfires), and conservation measures to support diverse forest values, we harvest the available annual growth.

Where we manage forestland, our operations are subject to regulation by federal, provincial, state and local environmental authorities. These regulations include industry-specific environmental regulations relating to air emissions and pollutants, wastewater (effluent) discharges, solid waste, landfill operations, forestry practices, site remediation and the protection of endangered species and critical habitat.