Timber investment CEO urges governments to take preventative action
August 24th 2023, Toronto, ON – Michael Ackerman, CEO of EcoForests Asset Management, Canadian-based asset management firm focused on sustainable forestry, says broad adoption of forestry management programs can prevent uncontrolled wildfires, mitigating the scope and scale of damages incurred during periods of drought.
Canada’s wildfires have surpassed previous records in scope and subsequent insured damages are estimated between $700 million and $1.5 billion. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, damages from extreme weather cost the country $3.1 billion in 2022 – not to mention the exponential increase in the nation’s emissions and the subsequent health affects resulting from poor air quality. Government action is required for effective first-response plans and preventative action to mitigate the effects of increasingly more frequent and severe weather events.
Ackerman points to managed forestry as a solution. “Managed forests can eliminate uncontrolled wildfires, preserve and protect natural watersheds, and enhance our ability to sequester carbon.”
Sustainable forest management maintains the health and well-being of forests and their watersheds by way of consistent care and monitoring to mitigate risks from natural hazards, including wildfires. Managed forests are cleared of thick undergrowth that dries and ignites quickly in periods of drought. And they are armed with early-detection technologies which alert management of an ignition before it spreads, eliminating the risk of uncontrolled burns. According to the Hancock Timber Resource Group, managed forests face less than 1% loss from fires and provide impactful investment opportunities for governments, private investors, and businesses alike.
Traditionally, forestry investment was limited to timber harvesting, a long-term investment which limited the breadth of investor opportunity due to its lack of liquidity. Carbon credits have redefined forestry investment providing liquidity options unprecedented in the forestry market and ushering in a new era of timber investors.
“This new wave of forestry investment could not have come at a better time,” says Ackerman. “We need more investors in the space if we are to scale managed forest strategies to protect large swaths of land across continents, and the liquidity options in the voluntary carbon credit market provide opportunities for investors who cannot afford to have their assets tied up for 10+ years.”
Even with this added investment stream, government action is required to scale managed forestry globally. Environmental policies must establish jurisdictional authority and regulations to implement management practices and establish sophisticated monitoring technologies across both public and privately owned land throughout Canada. The scale and scope of necessary management practices for adequate fire prevention and mitigation, as well as watershed preservation, will not be achieved without government participation.
Ackerman points to the success of nations like Costa Rica, whose environmental policies stimulating sustainable timber investments have saved more than 1 million hectares of the country’s forests. “Unprecedented loss requires unprecedented investments and presents unprecedented opportunities.”
Ackerman’s firm currently manages 5,000 hectares of sustainable timber projects and is preparing to reforest 10,000 hectares of Honduras’ La Tigra National Forest for carbon capture. Ackerman serves as a council member for the Green and Transition Council for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.