THE FOREST INDUSTRY: A Global Competitor
Canada is a forest
nation; our forest land base supports a broad range of activities, uses and values that
directly or indirectly touch the lives of us all. Our heritage, culture, economic
prosperity, identity and in some ways spiritual well-being are all closely tied to the
vast forest landscape; in fact, with the exception of the far north, it is a feature that
all Canada's regions have in common. Assessing the full socio-economic contribution of
forests to Canadian society requires consideration of all resource uses and a recognition
that we must remain globally competitive if we are to continue enjoying the full benefits
of our forest landscape.
The forest land base is a source of raw material for the wood and
paper products industry that contributed almost $21 billion to Canada's gross domestic
product in 1996, most of which originated from the sale of products into foreign markets.
Wood and paper industry jobs, investments, salaries and taxes contribute to our standard
of living, as well as supporting social services and community development. By emb-racing
the principles of sustainable forest management, industry aims to maintain and even
enhance the resource for future use. Canadian industry has responded positively to stringent and costly
environmental and forest management guidelines; it has, in addition, participated in the
development of Canadian standards for certification of the products of sustainable forest
management. A healthy forest industry contributes significantly to our ability to fund
conservation measures and maintain high standards of environmental quality.
The competitive environment for Canada's forest-based industry is
rapidly changing. Traditionally, an abundant supply of high quality timber has been an
advantage for our wood and paper products industry in the global marketplace. However,
there are limits to continued expansion into undeveloped forest areas, and efforts are
being concentrated on improved management techniques. With the trend to globalization of
world markets, the future competitiveness of our industry will depend on how well firms
can adapt to changes in the domestic and international markets, and whether governments
can provide a fiscal and regulatory environment in which private enterprise can flourish.
Success will depend on improving
performance, developing new and innovative technology, establishing closer ties with
customers, providing strong representation of Canadian interests in trade negotiations and
protecting the rights of Canadian exporters in foreign markets. It is also essential to
maintain a stable and flexible institutional environment, provide secure land tenure and a
stable wood supply, support a positive investment climate, and maintain a skilled and
The importance of forests to some Canadians goes much deeper than
simply having access to goods and services or being able to participate in outdoor
recreation; their direct economic livelihood, and cultural and spiritual well-being,
depend on the availability of forests as an economic resource or as a place where they can
maintain their way of life. A large number of Canadians reside in communities where the
wood and paper products sector -- mainly timber management activities -- is a dominant
source of well-paid jobs, and sometimes the only source of economic wealth. These
communities are vulnerable to changes in regional, national and global economies. In
addition, the broader forest-based economy, including such activities as trapping,
gathering wild foods, fishing, outfitting, running vacation lodges, providing services to
recreationists, producing Christmas trees and maple products is also important to
residents of many communities. There are many poorly understood social implications of
forest dependency and the uncertainty of outlook that can occur as a result of this
however, residents of forest-based communities are becoming more active in management of
the forests that have such an impact on their lives, through the public participation
processes established as part of the trend toward sustainable forest management.
Just as the forest products markets are becoming increasingly
globalized, so too the environmental, ecological and psychological benefits associated
with forest ecosystems are assuming an international dimension. Foreigners, like
Canadians, value Canada's forests for more than timber products; they also value the
associated plant and wildlife populations, and the role of our forests in maintaining
global ecological systems. Foreigners want to know that Canada's forests are managed
sustainably; similarly, Canadians value and are concerned about the status of forests in
other parts of the world. The Canadian forest-based industry recognizes that foreign and
domestic consumers want reassurance that their consumption is not contributing to
environmental and ecosystem degradation, and desire trustworthy information about Canadian
forest practices. One response to this new consumer demand is the industry's participation
in efforts to develop certification standards for wood and paper products of sustainably
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The Canadian wood and paper industries must remain globally
competitive with the major timber-producing regions in the world.
The future competitiveness of Canadian firms in the timber and
other forest products will depend on the ability of industry and government to respond to
competitive pressures in the domestic and international markets, changes in wood supply,
and implementation of sustainable forest management and on an institutional environment
conducive to long-term investment.
A healthy and diversified forest-based economy contributes
significantly to the social, spiritual, cultural and environmental well-being of Canadian
With trustworthy information about Canadian forest practices
and assurances that forests are managed sustainably, consumers will express their
environmental preferences through the market place.
Framework for Action
We will maintain and enhance the long-term competitiveness of
Canada's wood and paper products sector
4.1 By identifying and putting in place
those elements essential to ensure the long-term strategic competitiveness of Canada's
wood and paper products industry; for example, certification for products of sustainable
forest management, security of wood supply, assurance of market access, improved
productivity and valued-added products.
4.2 By identifying and removing
barriers to, and creating opportunities for, the development, production and marketing of
services and higher value-added as well as existing products.
4.3 By carrying out periodic studies to
measure the competitiveness of the Canadian forest-based industries, by province, against
key timber-producing regions of the world.
4.4 By developing new products and
processing methods for currently less-utilized tree species, and developing technologies
that accommodate, accept or utilize the changing properties of fibre in second-growth
4.5 By optimizing -- given technical
constraints, regulatory requirements and economic viability -- the capacity to utilize
recycled materials, as well as other non-traditional fibre sources, to complement
roundwood-based sources of fibre.
4.6 By periodically assessing the
sustainable supply of timber from Canada and oppor-tunities to maintain or expand it.
4.7 By evaluating and improving, where
necessary, mechanisms for advising the Government of Canada on forest-related trade issues
regarding priorities, trade agreements, trade disputes and non-tariff barriers.
4.8 By working with other nations develop and implement multi-country product standards and to gain international
recognition of Canadian product and building codes, standards and certification systems.
We will further develop economic opportunities for products other
4.9 By identifying barriers to, and
promoting opportunities for, the development, production and marketing of products other
than timber, and related services.
4.10 By promoting tourism, ecological and
cultural tours, and outdoor forest-based recreation.
We will promote and increase the demand for Canadian goods,
services, technologies and expertise in world markets:
4.11 By promoting Canada's forest-based
products, expert services and technologies with foreign customers, customer groups and
others in a way that demonstrates and reflects Canadian commitments to sustainable forest
management practices and environmentally sound technologies.
We will ensure that processes used in forest products
manufacturing and resource management are environmentally sound and economically viable:
4.12 By developing new and innovative
technology to reduce production costs, add value, and minimize environmental impacts and
community health effects.
4.13 By developing and implementing codes
of environmental and resource management practices, self regulated by their proponents and
consistent with or more stringent than government regulations, together with processes to
enforce, review and refine such codes.
4.14 By adopting energy-efficient
technologies and substituting renewable for non-renewable forms of energy where
technically feasible and economically viable.
We will ensure a predictable framework of regulations and
incentive measures that are conducive to long-term investments in Canada's forests and
4.15 By evaluating and revising, when
necessary, government regulations and programs, tenure systems, taxation regimes, and
stumpage and other royalties in terms of their impact both on long-term investments in
sustainable forest management and on the long-term competitiveness of forest-based
4.16 By encouraging investment mechanisms
conducive to long-term investments in forest management.
4.17 By improving our understanding of
the social and economic dimensions of forests and the inherent value of Canada's forests
to Canadian society for all uses.
We will ensure that Canada's progress in developing sustainable
forest management systems is recognized and accepted internationally:
4.18 By examining Canadian-based
certification systems, in relation to the CCFM criteria and indicators of sustainable
forest management, and publishing the results.
4.19 By reviewing external criticism of
the Canadian wood and paper industry and following up such assessments with appropriate
action, whether internally relating to the industry or externally in the legal, public or
4.20 By promoting Canadian forest
practices and results in the international arena.