By Rebecca Jacobs, Posted on January 4, 2022
At the 2021 Climate Change Conference (COP26), dozens of world leaders pledged to end global deforestation by 2030. But what does this mean for the Wabanaki forest in the Maritimes?
With a deforestation rate of 0.02%, deforestation seems to be of little concern in Canada. Yet this hides a more complex truth: that under business-as-usual, Canada’s forests are a net source of carbon.
To understand why, let’s first look at the difference between deforestation and degradation:
- Deforestation: when forests are converted to non-forest uses, like roads or agricultural lands.
- Degradation: a gradual process through which a forest’s composition, overall health, and ecosystem diversity declines, often due to unsustainable logging.
Both deforestation and degradation have a negative climate impact, and together are responsible for approximately 12% of greenhouse gas emissions. In the Maritimes, forests are being severely degraded by unsustainable forestry and clearcutting — negatively impacting the ecosystems they support, the livelihoods that depend on them, and the global climate.
“In the Maritimes, clearcutting is the dominant paradigm and that has to change. We’ve got to put the ecological, social, and climate values first in our decision making. We need to switch to a more ecological approach.”
– Daimen Hardie, Executive Director
The good news?
It can take hundreds of years, but a degraded forest can return to a diverse and resilient ecosystem — if it’s protected from further clearcutting. Experts agree that halting the degradation of forests and promoting their restoration has the potential to contribute over one-third of the total climate change mitigation needed to meet 2030 climate targets.
We know there can be a better future for the forests and communities that rely on them. With the right support, the special Wabanaki forests can become a global climate solution.
Learn more about the tools and resources we provide family forest owners to help them transition to ecological forestry practices or keep reading to find out what a changing climate means for the unique Wabanaki forest across the region.