Forest industry must lead on developing national carbon credit trading system

By Tony Kryzanowski

It’s time to get serious about tree farming and carbon credit trading in Canada—and the Canadian forest industry has a vested interest to make it happen. It needs more trees, more resilient forests in this era of climate change, and cheaper ways to grow and manage its fibre supply.

I recently completed an extensive and detailed series of articles about the current state of tree farming on private land in Canada. By the end of my research, I was shocked by just how close we are in this country to igniting a massive new industry whose benefits include a vastly increased wood fibre supply for industry, huge carbon sinks to address climate change, significant new income potential for landowners and farmers, and production of a carbon neutral, substitute fuel for power producers currently using fossil fuels.

So why isn’t it happening? Three words: carbon credit trading—and the mystery surrounding it. This is, without a doubt, the biggest stumbling block to why we do not have a large tree farming industry in Canada because tree farming doesn’t work economically unless landowners and/or industry can mitigate the cost of establishing tree farms by selling carbon credits.

So this is why the forest industry has to make this a priority and take the lead on this file.

Some provinces have carbon credit trading programs, but they are a mish-mash of schemes, jargon, pitfalls and red tape that would cross a rocket scientist’s eyes. This has to stop. Industry needs to invest its time and money to present a program and encourage the federal government to establish a national carbon credit trading system that anyone and everyone can access simply and for profit. The federal government took the national standard approach with a carbon tax. It should take the same approach with carbon credit trading.

If provinces want to continue with their own carbon credit trading programs that are better than or enhance the federal program, that’s fine. But there should be one, base system across Canada.

The concept of developing a tree farming industry in Canada is going nowhere until a national, simple, attractive method of claiming carbon credits to grow trees is developed, to encourage industry, farmers and landowners to participate.

As mentioned earlier, we are so close to changing the very complexion of this country and taking a serious run at meeting our greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, while massively increasing our wood resource and modeling for the rest of the world. I am strongly convinced that what is currently happening in the United States, such as the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Accord, is simply a blip. The issue of climate change is not going away any time soon.

In the meantime, the world, and particularly countries like China, are making massive investments in projects aimed at curtailing GHGs. Trees are and can be a big contributor to leveling off and lowering the planet’s temperature.

There are no technical barriers to launching a national tree farming and carbon credit trading system in Canada. All the heavy technical lifting has already been done. In the Edge section of this Logging and Sawmilling Journal issue, the third in a series of three articles is presented by the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) on the benefits of afforestation. Afforestation is science jargon for tree farming. It means planting trees on non-forested land like farms.

CWFC offers three scientifically and technically proven tree farming methods called high yield afforestation, mixed afforestation, and concentrated biomass afforestation. High yield afforestation (tree farming) involves fast-growing, cloned or hybridized, but not genetically modified, poplar, aspen and poplar/aspen cross species in what looks like an orchard. These trees mature in 15 to 20 years vs. 60 to 90 years in a natural forest. Mixed afforestation—and this is very exciting for the forest industry as a whole—involves these same hardwood species, but with tolerant softwood species like white spruce or white pine planted in the understorey. This pattern yields two potential cash crops on different growth trajectories and closely mimics the natural forest. Concentrated biomass tree farming involves high density planting of willow or hybrid poplar species in a hedge-like pattern primarily for use in bioenergy production. These crops can be harvested every three to four years, and up to six times before a new crop needs to be planted.

Not only does Canada have the blueprint for commercial tree farming on a massive scale, it also has some of the brightest technical minds in CWFC’s Derek Sidders, Tim Keddy, and their team members to mentor anyone interested in launching a tree farming venture.

So let’s engage organizations like FPInnovations and the Forest Products Association of Canada to investigate current carbon credit trading practices and pitfalls in each province, with the goal of developing and recommending a simplified, alternative, national, carbon credit trading system.

Logging and Sawmilling Journal
October 2017

On the Cover:
Producing wood chips for manufacturing pulp is an important part of the forest industry in Canada, but producing forestry biomass for energy facilities is also of growing importance. Industry research organization FPInnovations has some solid tips on achieving the standards expected of biomass in a story on page 45 of this issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal (Photo of B.C. Interior chipping operation by Paul MacDonald)

Keeping lumber on track
The rail system is an essential link in the supply chain for Canadian lumber producers, and industry associations are stressing that the system needs to be maintained and reviewed to get the best service—especially as the industry seeks to develop overseas markets, and get lumber to ports.

Maxing out value from logs
B.C.’s Skeena Sawmills has launched a broad-based effort to improve log utilization, and that effort includes the installation of a new small log canter line—and it’s also looking at a new log scanner, to maximize the value from each log.

New planer mill technology delivers
A new planer mill at IdaPine in Idaho is helping Evergreen Forest Products meet growing market needs—and standards for the company’s appearance grade products have been greatly enhanced by innovative Finnish scanning technology created by FinScan.

The right stuff—all the way ‘round
Nova Scotia logger Peter Archibald understands full well that he needs the right gear to deliver the right wood to the right mill, and he now has some new equipment—and some newly-trained operators—to deliver that wood.

Rolling uphill with logging changes
The B.C.-based Clusko Group is used to adapting to new environments and making changes, and the latest is a move to higher ground and steep slope equipment, with the Remote Operated Bulldozer (ROB) winch assist system.

Resourceful sawmilling
Vancouver Island sawmiller Lawrence Wheatley has weathered two decades of the ups and downs of the sometimes unpredictable wood products market by being extremely resourceful, and having a strong focus on local customers.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates, Alberta Agriculture and FPInnovations.

The Last Word
The forest industry must lead on developing a national carbon credit trading system, says Tony Kryzanowski.

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