The Saskatchewan government has designated September 18-24 as National Forest Week with the theme Canada’s Forests: Solutions to a Changing Climate. The week will highlight the important role provincial forests play in Saskatchewan’s environment and economy.
More than half of Saskatchewan is covered with forest, 97 percent of it on provincial crown land. This renewable resource supports a thriving forest sector that is a major economic driver in Saskatchewan.
“Forestry is and will continue to be a critical sector for our province,” said Secretary of Energy and Resources Jim Reiter. “Several new investments announced over the past year will add value to the economy and create thousands of jobs across the province. As a major employer in the North and helping to keep our economy strong, we will continue to promote Saskatchewan as the best place in Canada to sustainably develop our natural resources, including our forest sector.”
In 2021, Saskatchewan’s forest product sales exceeded $1.8 billion, a record for the province, and more than 60 percent of the world’s forest products are exported. The forest sector is also an important source of employment in the province, supporting nearly 8,000 jobs.
Saskatchewan’s forest sector is also attracting significant investment and is poised to harvest and produce record amounts of timber and forest products as early as 2024.
New planned investments of around US$900 million were announced in 2021, including US$400 million for the reopening of the Prince Albert pulp mill, US$250 million for a new Oriented Strand Board (OSB) plant in Prince Albert and a $100 million expansion of the Carrot River sawmill.
These investments are part of the province’s ambitious growth plan to increase sales to US$2.2 billion and exports to US$1.2 billion annually by 2030 and forest sector employment by 50 percent to nearly 12,000 direct and increase indirect jobs. Forestry is currently the largest sector in northern Saskatchewan and depends heavily on Indigenous workers and businesses.
Indigenous people make up 27 percent of all forest workers in Saskatchewan, with many Indigenous forest operations ranging from sawmills and timber harvesters to road construction, trucking, and reforestation companies. Located in Saskatchewan, NorSask Forest Products’ sawmill is the largest wholly owned First Nations sawmill in Canada.
Historically, Saskatchewan’s timber harvests have remained well below what the forest can sustainably support. The province’s industry harvests about 16,000 hectares of Saskatchewan’s forest each year, or less than half a percent of all productive forest area.
“Saskatchewan’s harvesting and reforestation practices are among the most sustainable in the world, as all operators have a duty to ensure all sites are reforested in a timely manner,” said Environment Secretary Dana Skoropad. “Ensuring the sustainability and regrowth of our forests remains at the forefront of our efforts as forestry continues to be the economic backbone of the North.”
Only 46 percent of the annual allowable cuttings (AAC) are currently being harvested, but this is expected to rise to 76 percent by 2026 to support projected forest sector growth.
Source: Province of Saskatchewan