Forestry policies, institutions and programmes


Natural Resources Canada (the ministry for natural resources) and its Canadian Forest Service (CFS) ¿ the country¿s premier forestry research and national policy coordination agency ¿ have recently implemented institutional changes as part of the Government of Canada¿s campaign to deliver its programmes and services at lower cost to Canadians.

Natural Resources Canada and CFS are guided by expert bodies such as the National Advisory Board on Forest Research (NABFOR) and the Forest Sector Advisory Council (FSAC). NABFOR was established in 1997, with membership from provinces, territories and the full range of interest groups, to advise Natural Resources Canada on strategic issues in the forest sector in Canada and related issues at the international level. FSAC, comprising representatives from the private sector (including chief executives from forest product companies and value-added wood firms), labour organizations, conservation groups, academia and aboriginal communities, reports to Natural Resources Canada and Industry Canada, representing the views of key stakeholders on issues affecting the performance of the forestry sector.

The primary mechanism for cooperation in national and international forestry matters is the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM). Membership consists of the 14 federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for forests. Through ongoing consultations with Canadians, CCFM stimulates the development of strategies, policies and programmes that promote sustainable forest management. Its work is assisted by committees addressing issues ranging from forestry communications to aboriginal forestry.

In 1992, Canada published a five-year national forest strategy that served, among other purposes, as the principal mechanism for tracking the domestic implementation of commitments made at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). It was followed by another strategy for the period 1998-2003. Consultations are now taking place to finalize a new strategy for another five-year period.

The second Canada Forest Accord, signed by members of CCFM and leaders from the aboriginal community, industry, labour and other major non-governmental organizations, reaffirms the pledge of Canadians to practice sustainable forestry. CCFM established the National Forest Strategy Coalition, made up of government and non-government signatories to the Canada Forest Accord, to promote and oversee implementation of the national forest strategy.

CCFM is also seeking the views of Canadians on a new approach to better conservation of forest ecosystems while ensuring the forest sector¿s economic prosperity and the well-being of forest-dependent communities. Known as Forest 2020, the initiative is designed to respond to demands for greater emphasis on recreation, resource protection and species at risk. Several issues are being examined to ensure balanced stewardship of the forest resource. For example, discussions are taking place on possible approaches for the intensive management of some forest areas for timber production, the management of other areas for multiple benefits, and ways to increase the conservation value of the forest.Plantation forestry could be one other approach to reduce the pressure on Canada¿s natural forests while meeting the increases in global demand for wood. Federal, provincial and territorial governments are working together to develop these ideas, and the dialogue with Canadians is continuing.

Roughly 1 million aboriginal people live in Canada. Approximately 80 percent live in areas covered by boreal forest or temperate rainforests. Their special cultural and spiritual connection with the land and intimate knowledge of the forest and other ecosystems are increasingly recognized, leading to their wider involvement in forest management. The Government of Canada has announced its renewed support to the First Nation Forestry Program (FNFP).

Established in 1996, FNFP enables First Nation communities across Canada to manage their forests more effectively while increasing their knowledge, capabilities and business skills essential to greater participation in Canada¿s forest sector. The extension of FNFP is an interim measure while the Government of Canada develops an approach that encompasses a broader agenda for Aboriginal peoples.

CFS is the country¿s primary research agency. CFS chairs the Interagency Fire Science and Technology Working Group, which forms part of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. CFS scientists are at the forefront of worldwide research and monitoring on the risk and impacts of air pollution on forest ecosystems. Transfer of technology and information exchange are other core functions of CFS. As part of the Government of Canada¿s Knowledge Infrastructure Initiative, CFS is spearheading an alliance among industry, universities, provincial and territorial governments, aboriginal groups and non-governmental organizations to use evolving communication technologies to exchange forestry data and knowledge.

In addition to CFS, several provincial governments have research programmes, as do forestry faculties in Canadian universities and colleges and some of Canada¿s larger forest companies. Canada has three cooperative industrial forest institutes whose costs are shared among federal and provincial governments and industry: the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC), a private non-profit research and development organization which conducts research on harvesting and transportation of wood and the growing of trees; FORINTEK Canada Corporation, responsible for research on solid wood products; and the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada (PAPRICAN).

In 1990, CCFM established the National Forestry Database Program (NFDP) to quantify changes in the level of activity and the resource. The database now also includes information on the financial aspects of forest management, as well as information on the use of pest control products.

Since 1993, Canada has been implementing criteria and indicators to define and measure sustainable forest management in the country. Canada is a member of the Montreal Process, through which 12 countries outside Europe have agreed on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in temperate and boreal forests.

The Domestic Model Forest Program provides testing grounds for sustainable forestry practices specific to different forests¿ unique social, ecological and economic parameters. Canada¿s 11 model forests range in size from 100 000 to 1.5 million hectares, covering more than 9 million hectares.

International activities
Implementation of the international conventions is a major issue, notably in the areas of climate change and biological diversity. The Kyoto Protocol establishes a commitment for Canada to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels in 2008-2012. The impacts, costs and benefits of potential options to be included in a national strategy to achieve Canada¿s Kyoto target are being examined. There is concern, however, that some of the commitments may have weak scientific underpinnings.

Canada¿s first report to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) described a number of actions being taken to conserve biological diversity in Canada¿s forests, identifying three major goals: measuring forest biological diversity, understanding human impacts and advising on conservation strategies.

Biotechnology is also of public concern, including genetically engineered foods and the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment.

Canada has been an active participant in the international forest policy dialogue since 1995 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) was established. It continues to work closely with other countries in the United Nations Forum on Forests on the implementation of the more than 300 proposals for action of the IPF and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF).

Last updated: September 2003

last updated:  Friday, February 19, 2010