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Scientists Around the World are Raising the Alarm on Canada’s Primary Forests


Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, ON – Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Open Letter to Prime Minister Calls for Urgent Action to Meet Climate Targets

Scientists from around the world are raising the alarm on the impacts of industrial logging on Canada’s ability to meet its climate targets. In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over 90 scientists are calling for the government to better protect Canada’s climate-critical primary forests and review how it reports logging’s carbon emissions.

The open letter comes as the government is expected to release, next week, its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. The Plan will outline how Canada will cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2030.  

The scientists are critical of the government for allowing the continued clear-cutting of Canada’s globally-significant primary forests and expressed concern that the government is under-reporting industrial logging’s climate impact.

The letter states: “With the release of Canada’s 2030 Emission Reduction Plan this spring, we strongly recommend the Government of Canada…protect[s] primary forests and older forests, and to make their protection a key pillar of its natural climate solutions commitments. We further recommend that the Government of Canada commit to improve the accuracy and transparency of its national greenhouse gas emissions accounting for and reporting of emissions from its logging sector.”

Industrial logging in Canada causes a net release of more than 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – equivalent to the emissions from all of Canada’s oil sands operations. 

“There is a big forestry-sector size hole in the government’s Emissions Reduction Plan,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “Without addressing industrial logging, the government will fail to meet its climate targets.”

Canada is a boreal nation – home to 25 percent of the world’s remaining intact forest, the most carbon-dense terrestrial ecosystem in the world. Yet each year, Canada logs over 400,000 hectares of boreal forest, much of this in carbon-rich primary forests. 

“Continued industrial logging of Canada’s primary forests is incompatible with achieving a safe and sustainable climate future,” said Anthony Swift, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Canada Program Director. “Canada’s reputation as a climate leader will depend on aligning its policies with scientific reality and ending the needless and irresponsible liquidation of these unique and irrecoverable primary forests.”

The open letter states that Canada’s forests “have a key role to play in preserving a safe and livable world, and the Government can make a significant contribution by prioritizing keeping these vital and irreplaceable ecosystems standing.”

The list of signatories includes world-renowned Canadian scientists Dr. Suzanne Simard and Dr. Diana Beresford-Kroeger, and U.S.-based scientists Dr. Dominick DellaSala and Dr. Stuart Pimm. 

The open letter to the Prime Minister is an initiative of Nature Canada, Natural Resources Defense Council and Nature Québec. 

For more information contact:

Michael Polanyi, Nature Canada

Margie Kelly, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Alice-Anne Simard, Nature Québec

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