Canadian Forest Service Publications

Canada's boreal forest economy: economic and socioeconomic issues and research opportunities. 2008. Bogdanski, B.E.C. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria, BC. Information Report BC-X-414. 59 p.

Year: 2008

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 28200

Language: English

Series: Information Report (PFC - Victoria)

Availability: PDF (download)

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Canada’s boreal forest economy faces many challenges and opportunities. The current industry structure reflects past resource and economic conditions, government policies, and industry strategy. As economic conditions and the resource change, industry, communities and governments must also adjust. Forest sectors vary from one region to another, but all boreal regions face similar challenges. Boreal forest industries face four main pressures: a changing resource base (reduced inventory, changed species mix); increased demands for environmental and social amenities; increased demands for non-timber values, and; increased competition in export markets. These will challenge the industries to remain competitive vis-à-vis other forest regions throughout the coming decades while also achieving other goals of sustainable forest management. To sustain competitiveness, Canadian boreal forest industries (timber and non-timber) require improved forest resource information and development of new tools to support investment and management decisions that, in turn, maintain and increase value derived from the many goods and services provided by Canada’s boreal forests. Opportunities to meet the coming challenges and ensure a competitive and sustainable boreal forest sector include: • Organization of the land base to minimize timber costs and enhance non-timber values, while taking into account the potential impacts of climate change and forest health issues, and maximizing synergies between non-forest sectors; • Development of new and innovative tenure arrangements and property-right regimes that support a sustainable and competitive boreal forest sector; • Improvement of decision support tools and systems to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of forest investments in forest renewal and protection; • Development of non-timber goods and services, including enhanced use of biomass for energy; • Development of secondary wood and paper manufacturing; • Development of new markets; • Development of new technologies in harvesting, transportation and processing; • Redesign of policies, including those that relate to transportation, energy, and environment, that support a sustainable balance between economic, environmental, and social goals. In order to maintain competitiveness and environmental and social sustainability in the boreal forest sector, research is needed in the following areas:

  1. Economics and policy in forestland management: integrated versus specialized land management;
  2. Economics and policy in integrated land-use management: forestry, mining, agriculture, recreation, and oil and gas;
  3. Economics of forest protection, including fire management and integrated pest management;
  4. Regional and local economic impacts of traditional and non-traditional forest industries on different aspects of the boreal population—rural and urban, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal;
  5. Economics of transportation in the context of forest management and manufacturing;
  6. Economic and policy research in the areas of non-timber forest products;
  7. Economics of climate change mitigation and adaptation in northern forests, including impacts of climate change policy on sustainable forest management and long-term timber supply;
  8. Analysis of effectiveness and efficiency of environmental, energy, transportation, and tax regulation and policies in the context of the forest sector (timber and non-timber). Such research will need to be spatially rooted and consider the varied circumstances that exist across the boreal forest region; otherwise, the research findings risk being based on ‘average’ conditions, and will not help resolve resource conflicts nor achieve a sustainable balance of economic, social, and environmental values at local and regional scales. Moreover, risk-analysis methods and tools specifically tailored to issues of the boreal forest region would be invaluable for development of future forest policies. In order to support such research and orient it to questions of greatest relevance to the boreal forest region, a more complete and detailed assessment of the state of the boreal region is recommended. An assessment similar to the report, “Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management in Canada: National Status 2005,” with particular attention to regional circumstances, would be a useful reference point from which to better focus research in the boreal forest sector. At the very least, a compilation of all socioeconomic statistics by ecoregion or ecozone would facilitate analysis. Other specific information in the following areas would support relevant economic and social research on Canada’s boreal region:
  9. Frequency, extent and impacts of small fires in the boreal;
  10. Growth and yield of timber resources in the boreal;
  11. Production and use of non-timber forest resources;
  12. Inventory and location of water, wetland, carbon, wildlife, and biodiversity resources;
  13. Inventory and location of non-forest resources;
  14. Boreal timber inventory, timber supply, and harvest trends;
  15. Location of industry, and its associated transportation and other infrastructure, within the boreal region.