Forests Ontario has launched a new video advocating sustainable logging in Algonquin Provincial Park.

The three-and-a-half-minute video called Connecting to Our Forests features students visiting a logging operation in the park to learn about the forestry sector and the jobs and products created by the industry. It also provides comments from industry professionals, particularly those working in Algonquin Park, about the value of the industry and its modern practices.

“The video highlights the inherent value of the sector, the jobs and livelihood it supports, and the meaningful connection forests bring, at a time when many outside forces are challenging the legitimacy of logging operations in the park,” stated Forests Ontario in a media release.

Gord Miller, the province’s environmental commissioner, released a report in 2014 imploring the government to commit to ending logging practices in Ontario’s oldest provincial park.

“Much has changed since the park’s early days. Today, the park is more than twice its original size, covering over 7,600 square kilometres. Algonquin park has become an integral part of Ontario’s natural heritage and cultural identity; it receives more than 800,000 visitors a year,” stated Miller in his report. “The park’s abundant biological diversity, which includes at least 16 species at risk, has become increasingly important given the mounting threats to biodiversity in Ontario.”

The commissioner said there are more than 2,000-kilometres of logging roads in the park and several thousand kilometres more of abandoned ones, which cause damage to habitat and wildlife, while creating pathways for invasive species.

The government has reduced the area of the park open to logging, but almost two-thirds of Algonquin is still potentially open to timber harvesting.

Forests Ontario, a not-for-profit created through the merger of Trees Ontario and the Ontario Forestry Association, said it is committed to re-greening the province through tree planting efforts in rural and urban areas as well as the renewal and stewardship of Ontario’s forests, while working with partners to protect, renew and manage forest resources through programs, services and advocacy.

It launched the video at its annual conference on Feb. 20.

Jamie McRae, a sawmill operator based in Whitney, Ont., who can trace his family’s involvement in forestry through five generations, talks in the video about how logging in the park has changed.

“When you look a forest management in Algonquin park, in contrasting the early days of forestry in Algonquin park until now, I think that one of the key differences that you can look at is the overarching view of sustainability. A long time ago, they were just concerned about cutting the trees and getting the wood for it,” said McRae. “But over the years we’ve slowly evolved into this system where we know that the forest is limited and we have to ensure that it’s available and sustainable for the next generation.”

Forests Ontario said the province’s Crown forests, including those in Algonquin Park, are considered among the best-managed forests in the world.

“To a large degree, there remains a disconnect between the public’s perception of forestry and the role it plays in everyday lives, a situation that is unfortunately compounded by misinformed rhetoric and political campaigns aimed at eliminating sustainable forestry from parts of the province,” stated the not-for-profit.

Forests Ontario partnered with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Algonquin Forestry Authority, McRae Lumber and Ontario Wood to create the video.