Québec needs 168 Million Taps by 2080 and a Silvicultural Approach that respects the Forest Capital of our Sugar Bush
Longueuil, February 11, 2021 – Québec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP) has responded to the provincial government’s Québec Timber Production Strategy released in December with its own vision for the future. By its projections, the organization estimates that Québec will need 168 million taps in production by 2080 in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for maple syrup around the world. That’s 120 million more taps than will be harvested by producers this spring (some 50 million). QMSP is calling for 30% of those taps to be on public land.
QMSP arrived at its estimate of future production imperatives by considering several factors including export sales targets (world demand) and tap issuance over the past 20 years (more than 17 million). Maple syrup sales and exports have shown constant growth over the past 10 years with annual increases of 7 to 10%. The maple industry accounts for the equivalent of more than 10,500 full-time jobs in Québec and contributes $800M to Canada’s GDP.
The percentage of taps that will be needed on public lands is estimated at 30%, representing 36 million more taps. As a typical maple operation has a minimum of 150 to 200 taps per hectare, the total area of public land that should be set aside for future maple production comes to 180,000 to 240,000 hectares. QMSP suggests this type of reserve be called an “Aire d’intensification de la production acéricole” or AIPA, following up on the “Aire d’intensification de la production ligneuse” or AIPL designation proposed by the provincial government’s Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) for general forestland development. In doing so, the department identified areas for wood production but not for the specific purpose of maple production on public lands.
A Development Strategy for Maple Production and Protection of the Maple Forest
QMSP wants to be heard by MFFP, which is now in the process of deciding what public lands should be reserved for future development. Its currrent proposal of adding just a few million taps is not the only problem: its approach to silviculture actually jeopardizes the forest capital of the province’s sugar bush. The hardwood forest is being harvested too aggressively, something Québecers (the owners of this resource wealth) do not favour. While the sugar bush could recover, it would take many years and the interim destruction would be devastating. Twenty years after Richard Desjardins’s award-winning documentary Forest Alert, which showed the disastrous effects of clearcutting on Québec’s forest environment, QMSP says we cannot help but wonder if anything has changed.
Put a Hold on Cutting Operations
Recent logging in the Upper Laurentians, such as the operation at Lac Désiré, makes it abundantly clear that wood harvesting as the MFFP envisions it is a clear and present danger to Québec’s remaining forest capital. QMSP fervently believes Québec must manage its hardwood forest wisely and protect it. That means putting such projects on hold until MFFP can assure people that its silvicultural approach to the sugar bush is sound.
QMSP president Serge Beaulieu says MFFP is insufficiently attentive to the maple industry, in spite of its significance as a pillar of regional economic development. “This is not the first time we’ve made them aware of our concerns. We submitted briefs several years ago during consultations on its sustainable forest management strategy (SADF) and the Sustainable Forest Development Act. None of our concerns seem to be reflected in the government’s policy initiatives.” QMSP has made its opposition to the Québec Timber Production Strategy known since December. “On top of neglecting the economic aspect of maple product,” adds Mr. Beaulieu, “we get the impression that sawmills take precedence over the environmental and social aspects of the forest. QMSP managed to meet with MFFP officials this morning. We can only hope something positive will come of it.”
QMSP believes its projections of needed production reserves on public lands are realistic and reflective of a firm commitment to cohabit the forest with other users. Such areas will continue to provide timber for processing. Maple producers manage and nurture the forest according to recognized silvicultural principles in order to maintain the resource and promote tree growth. Wood harvesting is conducted more frequently but with less intensity than the practices of the traditional forest industry. This is the right way to manage the sugar bush.
The mission of Québec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP) is to promote the interests of Québec’s maple producers and develop the production and sales of their products to their full potential, while respecting the principles of sustainable development. We represent 11,300 producers and 7,400 enterprises whose quality work has led Québec to account for an annual average of 72% of the world’s maple syrup supply. QMSP proudly promotes the Érable du Québec brand and coordinates the marketing efforts of Canadian maple products abroad. QMSP also leads and directs the International Maple Research and Innovation Network.
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Québec Maple Syrup Producers