The Canadian Forest Carbon Assessment
Why this project matters
Across the environmental community, climate change is recognized as one of the world’s greatest environmental challenges. This project, led by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), will provide a roadmap for conducting a more comprehensive carbon-stock assessment for the entire land base certified to SFI across Canada and the U.S. With more than 285 million acres/115 million hectares certified to SFI, this project has the potential to offer land managers data that could be applied to forest management at grand scales. This project will quantify carbon storage in different forest ecosystems using national and regional data, and examine forest management practices that influence carbon stocks.
How the project will improve understanding of the role of forests in climate change mitigation
Over the past 40 years, forests have absorbed about a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions from human activities, according to Natural Resources Canada. This project will seek to develop the best available forest-carbon inventories from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and other Canadian forest types from B.C. to New Brunswick. For a large boreal forest landscape made up of forest management areas certified to SFI, SRC will provide estimates of carbon stocks, stock changes, annual emissions and removals of carbon to and from the atmosphere, and carbon transferred annually to meet society’s needs for timber, fiber, and energy.
This data will be integrated in the Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Sector, a tool developed by the Natural Resources Canada. Data, methods, and results from this project can be used to help improve Canada’s National Forest Carbon Monitoring, Accounting and Reporting System, which will ensure consistency of national and international reporting.
This project is a significant step toward developing a carbon stock number for forests managed to SFI standards in North America. SRC has assembled a strong partnership with the Canadian Forest Service, as well as other leading provincial partners and SFI Program Participants Weyerhaeuser, Tolko and Louisiana-Pacific. Provinces and SFI Program Participants are providing in-kind data support and coordination to assist in modeling efforts.
SFI’s support will help quantify the role that active forest management, at the forest region level, may play in increasing carbon stocks. Currently, Canada produces carbon stock information on a national scale. This project will collect data so it can be used provincially, regionally and at a landscape-level scale.
How the project helps forest managers
SFI will use the data generated by the project to guide best practices and provide information to forest managers that may help them increase carbon stocks where there is a good fit with their management plans. Better and more consistent data will enable forest managers across Canada to build understanding of how forest practices could mitigate greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The project model is also designed to respect the need to account for the impacts of growth, mortality, decomposition and disturbances such as fire, insects, and harvesting. SRC will run the model from 1990 to 2016, and will include historical annual disturbances by fire, harvesting and, where applicable, land-use change to and from forests.
This project also supports the SFI Conservation Impact Project, which is developing metrics for carbon sequestration and other critical conservation attributes. The project encourages forest health, conservation and sound management and facilitates continual improvement. Better understanding of these contributions can help managed forests gain recognition as a vital tool in increasing carbon stocks, which in turn will help address climate change.
This partnership of academic research institutions, government, and private sector scientists represents a meaningful opportunity to enumerate carbon values at scale across large areas of the certified land base.
- Project lead: Saskatchewan Research Council
- The Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Natural Resources Canada Carbon Accounting Team
- Forest Products Association of Canada
- Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment’s Forest Service
- Saskatchewan Meadow Lake OSB (Tolko) (SFI Program Participant)
- Manitoba Sustainable Development, Forestry and Peatlands Management
- Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd. Swan Valley Forest Resources Division (SFI Program Participant)
- Weyerhaeuser (SFI Program Participant)