Canada must prepare for the impact of global warming on its forests,
such as increased fires in the west and ice storms in the east, the
country’s forest ministers said Tuesday.

Canada’s lumber and paper industry must also address its declining
competitiveness and use trees for non-timber products such as
biochemicals, B.C. and federal officials said in a draft report on the
future of the country’s forests.

Canada is home to about 10 per cent of the world’s forests, and more
than 90 per cent of the country’s forest land is government owned.

The report, which was light on specifics, said the forests will feel
the impact of global warming even if steps are taken internationally to
reduce emissions of greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

Potential problems include more large-scale fires in Western and
Northern Canada, outbreaks of tree-eating insects that are normally
controlled by cold weather, and wetter conditions and ice storms in
Atlantic Canada.

The country must also look at using some of its forest as “carbon
sinks” that can offset greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and
storing carbon dioxide from the air, according to the report, which is
still subject to public comment.

Canada must recognize that changing technology has made its lumber and
paper firms less competitive with those in other countries with lower
labour costs, but the traditional way of dealing with that situation
will not work in the future.