New study reveals value of maple forest ecosystem goods and services – and potential for the future
QUEBEC, April 22, 2016 – Pour a little maple syrup from Quebec on your pancakes or in your coffee, contribute to the preservation of ecosystem goods and services for our planet. That’s a lot to accomplish before breakfast is done.Evaluation of Ecosystem Goods and Services related to the Quebec Sugar Bush, a recent study by Groupe AGÉCO and the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, reveals that forests in Quebec currently in use for the production of maple goods are ecological powerhouses. These forests, generally protected under Quebec law, provide $844 million USD ($1.08 billion Canadian Dollars) in ecosystem services that are “useful and essential to human well-being and do not, in many cases, have any man-made substitute.”1
The study outlines the benefits of the maple syrup-producing forests in three broad categories, following recognized international approaches.
- Regulating services systems, or material services that affect the ability of ecosystems to maintain conditions conducive to human life, both locally and globally. Key examples include water filtration through the soil, and erosion and climate control.
Maple forests producing maple syrup store 962,000 metric tons of carbon each year. This is the equivalent of offsetting the carbon emissions from 290,000 vehicles in a year or 14% of the vehicles in New York City. In comparison, the maple syrup production, packaging and distribution processes release 109,387 metric tons per year.
- Provisioning services, which represent direct services and materials provided by the maple forest to individuals. These include food production (maple products, mushrooms, berries and other edible plants) as well as medicinal products (such as ginseng) and ornamentals (like flowers and wood).
- Cultural services,which bestow non-material benefits. Recreation (leisure and tourism connected to ecosystems) is one notable example, in addition to aesthetic benefits and value related to education, heritage and culture in general.
“The evaluation of ecosystem goods and services is an innovative new approach that’s being adopted more and more around the world. The methodologies we used are recognized by the international scientific community. They attribute a monetary value to services rendered by nature itself, value which is often taken for granted,” said Groupe AGÉCO associate and study-co-author Jean-Pierre Revéret. “The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has become a pioneer in its usage here in Quebec by applying it to the maple products sector.”
Many people worldwide choose maple syrup from Quebec maple for its wonderful taste, nutritional value and sweetening capacity. In the United States, the UK, Quebec and Japan alone, 66.2 million households are consuming maple syrup from Quebec. It meets the needs of conscious consumers demanding natural, eco-friendly products – and the more they eat, the more benefits they stimulate. Once a maple tree is used for maple syrup production, it is generally protected by Quebec law through a number of provisions and cannot be cut down.
“If you consider that maple trees now in production are protected by Quebec’s Loi sur la protection du territoire et des activités agricoles and those still untapped are sure to offer economic benefits, government protection of the maple forests is surely justified. The more you buy Maple from Canada, the more you contribute to the protection of Quebec’s maple forests and the ecosystem services they provide to the benefit of us all,” said Serge Beaulieu, President of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ).
There are at least 53 million untapped maple trees in Quebec. Right now, the total economic value of the entire maple forest is $2.1 billion USD ($2.7 billion Canadian Dollars), and it offsets the carbon emissions from 770,000 vehicles each year, or one-third of the vehicles in New York City. However, that value is not guaranteed to last. Until the 53 million untapped trees are put into production, they are generally not under protection and could be cut down at any time, depriving current and future generations of the ecological benefits they provide.
“When one person per household uses one teaspoon of maple syrup or maple sugar each day instead of another sweetener, two new maple trees go into production – and under protection,” said Geneviève C. Béland, FPAQ Director of Promotion, Innovation and Market Development. “If many people made the switch to maple, large areas of forest would be protected, providing more benefits and conserving a proud heritage to serve future generations.”
About Groupe AGÉCO
The study was conducted by Groupe AGÉCO, a consulting firm specializing in corporate responsibility and economic studies, particularly in the food sector.
About the Evaluation of Ecosystem Goods and Services
The identification of ecosystem services and the value of goods and services put forward in this project are based on an innovative approach taken from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). It was initiated in 2001 by the United Nations and involved the work of more than 1350 experts from 50 countries (http://www.millenniumassessment.org/). This research was subsequently bolstered by other efforts among which we note the international initiative undertaken in 2007 by the G8 environment ministers, The Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity (TEEB) (http://www.teebweb.org/). Since then, the approach has been applied increasingly by entities such as municipalities, governments, NGOs, and businesses in order to include the value of ecosystem services in decision-making for a more informed management of natural capital.
About the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers and Maple Products from Quebec
Since 1966, FPAQ has pursued its mission of defending and promoting the economic, social and moral interests of 7,300 maple enterprises in Quebec, men and women working together to establish standards of quality and see to the promotion and collective marketing of their products. Quebec is responsible for 90 percent of maple syrup production in Canada and approximately 71 percent of all maple production in the entire world. Together, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia account for 10 percent of Canadian production.
FPAQ proudly promotes the Maple Products from Quebec brand and coordinates the marketing and development of Canadian maple products to the world on behalf of the Canadian maple industry. To these ends, FPAQ leads and gives direction to an international innovation network for maple products from Canada.
1 Le capital écologique du Grand Montréal : une évaluation économique de la biodiversité et des écosystèmes de la Ceinture verte, report prepared by Groupe AGÉCO for the David Suzuki Foundation and Nature-Action Québec, February 2013, page 5.