For weeks, slick earthy green and pastel orange ads touting the climate benefits of Canada's logging have flooded millions of Facebook and Instagram feeds. Posted by a group called "Forestry for the Future," the ads click through to a slick website promoting the industry as a way to sequester carbon and reduce wildfire risk.

The website suggests that "Canadian forestry is supporting a more sustainable future" from "zero-waste to net-zero,” language typically used by environmental organizations. But in fact, the site is one plank of a campaign by Canada's largest forestry lobby group — the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) — to fight growing concerns about its impact on climate change and wildfires.

In the past week alone, the group has spent over $36,782 on Facebook and Instagram ads targeted at Canadians, according to the platforms' parent company Meta. Since the campaign started in June 2019, the group has spent over $500,000 on ads on the platforms.

The push is not limited to social media. According to a June presentation from FPAC president and CEO Derek Nighbor to the Maritime Lumber Bureau, the campaign is a "large-scale, multi-channel, multi-year strategic communications plan" that aims to bolster "public support … to advance the sector's policy priorities."

In addition to running Facebook and Instagram ads, the campaign has created videos and podcasts, placed large-scale ads in public spaces, paid for op-eds and articles in major news outlets and partnered with TikTok and Instagram influencers, the document notes.

"Persuasion and opinion change are not something that happens overnight," it says, and thus aims to saturate multiple platforms with "memorable executions" to "seed" its message in people's minds. According to the presentation, the campaign is focused on making people think of forestry as a climate solution, suggesting that lumber is "Canada's climate change export" and the industry is "keeping our forests as forests forever."

FPAC did not respond to several requests for comment on the Forestry for the Future campaign.

There is some truth to claims that forestry is a sustainable industry. Unlike concrete or cement, trees can be replanted and when they grow, remove planet-heating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But forest and climate experts say the forestry industry, as it is conducted in Canada today, is no climate solution.

"It isn't simple," said Julee Boan, Canada project partnership manager for the Natural Resources Defense Council, noting the federal government consistently underestimates emissions arising from the industry. "There are some big questions about the role that forestry should be playing — and the promotion of that as a carbon-neutral sector is incorrect."

A campaign by Canada's largest logging lobby aims to pitch the forest industry as sustainable, despite growing evidence the sector is a net emitter of climate-warming gases.

According to Canada's national greenhouse gas inventory, forestry is considered a largely carbon-neutral sector. However, in a January paper Boan co-authored, she found that assessment was too broad. The federal assessment factors in all forests, whether or not they can be logged due to geographical and land management constraints.

Boan's study instead evaluated how much carbon practices directly related to logging — tree harvesting, post-harvest regrowth and the carbon stored in wood products — emitted and sequestered, thereby eliminating sequestration data from forests that will never be logged.

When the researchers evaluated emissions and carbon sinks directly associated with the forestry industry alone, they found that between 2005 and 2021, the forestry sector accounted for about as many emissions as agriculture and electricity generation. Agriculture is responsible for roughly 12 per cent of Canada's GHG emissions

Tegan Hansen,'s senior forest campaigner, added that the industry's logging and replanting practices — harvesting older, diverse forests and replacing them with typically coniferous plantations — are fuelling wildfires. Plantations are more susceptible to "really intense, severe fires" than the older and more diverse forests logged by industry.

But where industries like oil and gas or mining are routinely criticized for hiding emissions, forestry has largely evaded similar scrutiny. According to public opinion survey data cited in the FPAC presentation, about 78 per cent of Canadians see the industry favourably. In contrast, only about 60 per cent saw the oil and gas sector favourably.

That perception is not entirely unfounded. Forestry is "really important from a climate perspective," said Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood, senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Wood is renewable, making it a better building material for a low-carbon future, he said. Moreover, healthy forests act as carbon sinks and can reduce erosion — if they are well-managed.

Boan agreed, adding well-managed forests and wood products can help tackle problems like climate change, wildfires and housing shortages. Accounting for fires and overharvesting, Canada's forests are now net emitters of GHGs. The problem with the industry's campaign, she said, is it "seems to distill all these complex problems to one solution — and that is more logging."

"To see these ads and to see the sector trying to position itself as a solution to climate change is really disturbing," added Hansen. "What's more frightening is the signs we are seeing that governments in this country are accepting this myth the industry is trying to sell."

As the climate crisis deepens and extreme fires, drought and floods become more common, protecting "standing, old, mature forests" is increasingly important to sequester carbon, reduce erosion and protect communities, she said. She worries the ad campaign is "a ploy” by forestry companies to get subsidies from the government and an effort to protect their operations from environmental measures.

"There are a lot of challenges facing us in Canada, and the general public is receptive and even desperate for some solutions to these complex problems," said Boan. "[FPAC] is being opportunistic to insert itself as a solution while totally ignoring or downplaying the impact it is having."

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One might ALMOST feel sorry for foresters, were it not for the f**king massively destructive mess they walk away from; steep hillsides denuded of trees, the loose dirt sliding away to silt up the salmon streams. The massive tangles of "trash" they pile up - so concentrated those piles will never break down and will choke out any potential re-growth. AS for re-planting? That is a pledge more honoured in its. failure, than in its fulfillment.
The way forestry industries operate they are more like mining industries, extraction, no rehabilitation.
All the swanky, misleading PR in the world cannot make the "Fibre" sector smell like roses...or like a functioning natural forest.