Carbon Neutrality

A product or a process can claim to be “Carbon Neutral” when it does not add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Forest biomass used in pulp or wood production is generally considered to be “Carbon Neutral” since it absorbed carbon dioxide by photosynthesis while the tree grew, then when it decomposes or is burnt, either directly or after conversion to a biofuel such as black liquor, it releases the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere where it re-enters the natural biogenic cycle.

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Carbon Sinks


In 1997 Canfor purchased 5,700 hectares of marginal agricultural land with the objective of converting the property into productive forests. The land was originally primarily forest but was converted to cropland under a Provincial government agricultural land-lease program in the seventies by the Rice family, the original owners of the property.

The Kyoto Protocol agreement recognizes the creation of forest sinks as a means of reducing CO2 atmospheric concentrations. Article 3.3 specifically recognizes afforestation and reforestation as activities that can lead to CO2 sequestration. Neither of these terms is defined in the Protocol, and their definition is the subject of ongoing international discussions. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) outlines definitions as follows:

Afforestation is defined as tree planting on lands that have not historically contained forests,

Reforestation is defined as planting trees on lands, which have previously contained forests but have been converted to some other use, (therefore planting after harvesting is considered restocking, and not reforestation).

The Rice property fits the latter definition of reforestation as the property was partially deforested and converted to agricultural use and is now being converted back into forest cover. The company planted 165 ha in 1999 with support from Forest Renewal BC. An additional 695 ha was planted in the summer of 2000 and a further 860 ha planned for 2001.

It is Canfor's intent to manage this property on a sustained yield basis and in this context the lands will be included in its Tree FarmLicense 48. This license agreement with the BC Ministry of Forests requires the preparation of a Five Year Management Plan and Annual Reports that must be submitted to the Ministry of Forests for approval.

The property is being planted with a combination of white spruce and lodgepole pine, species native to the region. The estimated growth rate is 3.7 m3/ha/yr. The plantations are being managed on a 90-year rotation. The estimate represents an annual average over the 90-year rotation and will average somewhat less than this estimate for the first few decades until the plantations become fully established. By year-end 2000, 860 hectares were afforested resulting in the sequestration of 4,641 t of CO2 per year.


In keeping with our License agreements and company policy of sustainable forest management, we continue to immediately reforest harvested areas to ensure that young, growing forests become effective carbon sinks. In 1999 we reforested 17,627 hectares, planting 23.2 million seedlings. In 2000, we planted a further 44.4 million seedlings on 32,148 hectares.