Foresters spend a lot of time in the outdoors and they know that trees are connected to each other through underground networks that let them share water, nutrients, and information that is essential for life. Trees are very much like people in that the health of our respective communities is directly related to the well being of all, and individual actions can impact many.

Recent events related to the COVID-19 pandemic have brought this reality to light. The global dimensions of the crisis and the economic and social uncertainty are almost impossible to grasp. Yet, so many Canadians and Canadian businesses across the country have been stepping up to keep their communities healthy and safe. We are staying at home if we can, going to work when we must, and we are doing it together.

Canada’s forest sector employs more than 230,000 workers in over 600 communities across the country. We have long been known for our green credentials and our sector’s world-leading approach to forest management. Recent events have reminded us of the important health benefits of Canadian forest products and have reinforced the essential nature of our supply chain – wood, pulp, and paper products and their ubiquitous presence in the daily lives of Canadians. From toilet paper to food containers to face masks and hospital gowns, the importance of our sector has been hiding in plain sight, and we have embraced our role as an essential provider to Canadians. Meeting that responsibility day in and day out, while keeping our people safe, is our primary focus.
Given the nature of our work, we are a sector that knows quite a bit about resilience in the face of disruption. Whether that involves market conditions, bad weather, operational problems, forest fires, or pest outbreaks – we plan for the unexpected, and then execute decisively. The strengths of our industry are our people, our commitment to the environment, our production capabilities, and our deep culture of safety. We know that strong leadership and flexibility from the forest floor through our mills to our boardrooms will allow Canada’s forest industry to be a leading part of Canada’s post-COVID economic recovery.

Forest sector professionals are, at heart, deeply rooted in our mainly rural and northern communities. These roots make us intensely aware of the need around us, and it is part of our DNA to support those who need help.

Over the last few weeks, Canada’s forest sector and its people have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to local food banks, hospitals, women’s shelters, mental health organizations, Boys and Girls Clubs, and United Way operations. We have also stepped up to provide frontline health care workers and public health authorities with protective masks and gear, respirators, sanitizers, and tissue supplies. Some FPAC member companies have even launched social media initiatives to applaud the efforts of the local heroes in our areas.