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We are proud to champion the most comprehensive forest practices in the world to ensure healthy forests and a sustainable industry for today and generations to come.
Read about our sustainability actions and performance in our 2020 Sustainability Report.
An integral aspect of our business is growing trees and managing forest health. Our plan for responsible forest management centers around our commitment to sustainably manage approximately 2 million hectares of forestland according to a 250-year cycle. This includes the collection of seeds, growing seedlings, replanting, habitat planning and conservation, timber harvests and the manufacturing of wood products over this cycle.
We are held by the B.C. government to some of the most stringent forest management standards in the world. We have a commitment to never exceed the allowable amount we can harvest; a limit determined by the Chief Forester of British Columbia and known as the Allowable Annual Cut (AAC). We reforest every hectare that we harvest, ensuring that healthy new forests grow back to maintain a full spectrum of tree species and forest types. Through our ongoing efforts to do more to protect and preserve the environment, we continually work to reduce our environmental footprint while providing the most renewable and environmentally sustainable building materials on the planet.
In addition to adhering to rigorous government standards, we voluntarily certify our forests and have mapped out our own innovative Forest Strategy.
Our Forest Strategy provides specific objectives for us to meet for climate change, carbon, biodiversity (including species at risk), silviculture, public engagement, carbon, water and more.
We are continually working to refine our approach to forest management, using science-based principles and collaborative approaches to test, evaluate and adapt our practices.
As part of our sustainable forest management practices, Western ensures the retention of exceptionally large trees in the forests that we manage, both on crown and private land. Our measures are designed to protect trees that are half as large, in diameter, as those identified in the B.C. Big Tree Registry, a record of the largest tree specimens in the province. We focus on tree species that grow to exceptional size and have long life-spans, for example cedar, cypress, fir and spruce.
These exceptional trees are part of the biological legacy of the coast and retaining them is part of our overall forest management measures to sustain biodiversity and preserve ecosystems and wildlife habitats.
Our commitment to reforestation is evident at our Saanich Forestry Centre. We are proud to be the only forest company on the coast to own and operate a seed orchard and tree nursery. Operating since 1964, the Centre began to improve reforestation on the B.C. coast through a tree breeding research and development program. Today, the Centre produces close to 7 million high-quality, genetically improved seeds and grows over 3 million seedlings every year to ensure healthy, resilient trees for the future.
Demonstrating our commitment to managing and protecting forests of high conservation value, Western was involved in a process involving the Province of B.C., First Nations, environmental organizations and industry to reach the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement. The land-use agreement supports logging of old- and second-growth forests in 15% of the GBR by using ecosystem-based management. It provides our company, customers, communities and forests certainty that we can continue to log sustainably, and provide the world with sustainable wood products. In leaving 85% of the GBR untouched, we are able to balance the ecological integrity of the area and the economic and cultural needs of local communities.