OTTAWA, ONTARIO - September 21 marks the beginning of National Forest Week, a week-long celebration that has taken place across Canada since 1922.

This year we are highlighting the world leading research underway in Canada to enhance the sustainable management of this incredible renewable resource, to extract the maximum value possible from each tree harvested, and to ensure that future generations of Canadians will be well-equipped to continue our way of life as a great forest nation.

We are also celebrating the success of Canada in strengthening the sector’s competitiveness and resilience. Through strategic and sustained support, the Government of Canada is helping to expand markets for Canadian forest products and to secure and protect jobs for skilled workers. We have put in place programs aimed at developing advanced technologies and high-value added forest products, and at promoting the full participation of First Nations communities in Canada’s forest economy.

Minister Rickford's statement follows:

"National Forest Week is a celebration of our forests and trees - and their importance to the quality of life in cities, towns and villages across Canada.

"Canada's vast forests account for 10 percent of the world's forest cover, and over 150 million of our nearly 400 million hectares of forests are internationally certified as sustainably managed -far more than in any other country in the world.

"Our government recognizes that the forest sector is an important economic driver, contributing close to $20 billion to our nation's economy. Canada's forest industries directly employ more than 200,000 workers across Canada - many in rural and First Nations communities that are dependent on the forest sector. As Canada's Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, I know well how important forestry is to the families who rely on the forest for high-quality jobs and environmental benefits.

"That is why our government is committed to supporting the forest sector by investing in world-class forest research, environmental improvements at mills and technological and forest product innovation. For example, through Economic Action Plan 2014, our government is providing $24 million to FPInnovations, a key player in transforming Canada's forest sector, to undertake research to develop new products and increase the value of products created from Canadian wood fibre.

"Under the Expanding Market Opportunities Program, our government has helped to open doors to new business opportunities and new markets for Canadian forest products. In fact, our efforts have been particularly successful in increasing sales of Canadian wood products to China, where exports have grown by more than 1,000 percent between 2007 and 2013.

"These investments are helping to grow markets for Canadian forest products, commercialize new products and improve the industry's environmental performance. Our government will continue to support the transformation of Canada's forest industry to make the targeted investments that are driving innovation, while continuing to support responsible forest management.

"Canadians can be proud that our forest management practices are internationally recognized as among the most rigorous in the world and that we are safeguarding the future of this incredible resource.

"Whether you live in an urban centre or in a rural region, I encourage you to take time to seek out and enjoy our beautiful, natural endowment and celebrate National Forest Week."

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