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Environmental Issues, Forest Management

ecosystem diversity, park visitation, commercial logging, Nunavut Territory, nature photography

The federal government owns about 95 million hectares (about 235 million acres) of forest, but most of this land is in the Yukon Territory, the Nunavut Territory, or the Northwest Territories and is unsuitable for commercial timber production. The provinces own 296 million hectares (731 million acres) or 87 percent of the forests south of latitude 60 north (the northern border of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). The remaining 13 percent is reserved for national parks or held privately. The provinces are responsible for managing their public lands and the timber on those lands.

Increasingly, policy makers are recognizing the intangible benefits of forests. These include recreational pursuits such as park visitation, bird-watching, nature photography, hunting, hiking, and canoeing. Forests are also recognized as important reserves of scientific information and habitats for wildlife, as well as important to water and soil conservation, air quality improvement, and maintenance of biological diversity (including both genetic diversity and ecosystem diversity). In recognition of these benefits, commercial logging is not permitted on about 4 percent of the productive forestland; this land is set aside in parks and other reserves. Several provinces have made commitments to set aside more forested lands in parks and reserves.

Reforestation efforts in Canada have increased reforested areas nearly 2.5 times since the 1970s. The area planted and seeded went up from 211,000 hectares (521,000 acres) in 1980 to 505,000 hectares (1,248,000 acres) in 1991. In 1991 Quebec and British Columbia planted 209 million and 230 million trees, respectively, while Ontario planted nearly 150 million.

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