FOREST MANAGEMENT: Practicing Stewardship
values range from wilderness and wildlife to wood supply, and from recreation to water
quality. Priorities among forest values differ from one geographic region to another and
will continue to shift over time. The challenge is to continually refine land use and
forest management practices so that they reflect Canadian values and maintain the health
of the ecosystems. Sustainable forest management, therefore, takes an integrated and
adaptive approach to planning.
Because over 90 percent of Canadian forest land is publicly
owned, forest management plans and operations must meet the many broad needs and goals of
Canadians. Legal accountability for forest sustainability lies primarily with provincial
governments, with responsibilities for forest management planning and forest operations
more and more often contracted out to forest companies.
Consideration of identified forest values requires knowledge and
information about them, as well as of natural disturbances such as fires, insect and
disease epidemics and wind throw. Forest
management planning is, therefore, a continual cycle of assessing, learning and making
changes. Planning considers information at several scales to address both strategic and
site-specific concerns, and both short- and long-term needs and goals. Much of the
information needs to be depicted on maps and the maps overlaid to help managers see the
interrelationships and changes.
In Canada, timber is harvested on approximately one million
hectares of forest land annually. This represents less than one-half of one percent of the
total commercial forest land. Allocations of timber resources are based on long-term goals
of land use and forest management, and regional analyses and estimates of wood supply. On
public (or Crown) lands, tenure arrangements with forest companies or communities to
harvest timber are usually issued through contracts or licences. Recent changes to
legislation and tenure arrangements include provisions to license the harvesting of other
forest resources such as blueberries or mushrooms. These complement or integrate
management objectives for wildlife, water, subsurface resources, hydroelectric energy and
Several silvicultural and timber harvesting systems are employed
in Canada. Selection of an appropriate silvicultural system depends mainly on the type of
forest ecosystem, management objectives, as well as on costs and worker safety. The most
common timber harvesting method continues to be clearcutting, the complete felling and
removal of a stand of trees. With new information and a better understanding of natural
disturbances and diversity, clearcutting practices are changing to emulate natural
disturbance patterns and frequencies, and reflect post-disturbance characteristics of
stands and landscapes. In forest regions where species regenerate under some cover,
partial cutting or silvicultural systems such as shelterwood or selection cutting may be
Reforestation systems include treatments such as natural renewal
from existing seed sources, or supplementation by seeding or planting tree seedlings.
Renewal efforts should help maintain the natural diversity, productivity and structure of
the forest landscape and ecosystems. Tree planting will continue to be important for
ensuring prompt renewal, for reforesting difficult sites or for intensive management to
meet specific needs for wood supply. Better methods of encouraging natural regeneration in
selected areas will ensure that those areas reflect their inherent diversity and
productivity, and may help to control costs. These activities will also contribute to
increased carbon sequestration.
Fire is part of the natural life cycle of most forests, and
periodic fires in some forest types are necessary to maintain forest health. Each year,
however, fires burn an average of two million hectares of forest in Canada, posing a
threat to commercial wood supplies, rural communities and recreation areas. Canada is a
world leader in fire detection and suppression technology. Canadians also recognize the
natural and important role of fire in maintaining the health of the ecosystems. Fire
suppression changes the characteristics of forest stands, and there is a challenge to find
a level of fire suppression that balances short-term and long-term needs.
Insects and disease are also natural and necessary to forest
ecosystems in Canada. Although insects and disease are a natural part of forest
ecosystems, they sometimes cause major losses to forest values. Each year, millions of
hectares of forest are affected by disease and insects such as budworm and bark beetles. Weeds, brush and other vegetation may hinder prompt
regeneration and growth of commercial tree species. Attention is being focused on
integrated pest management and alternative ways to handle vegetation that take a more
ecological and sustainable approach. In addition, inspections and quarantine measures are
taken at Canada's boarders to prevent the entry of pests.
Breeding and genetic techniques can also help to develop trees
that are resistant to certain insects and diseases. Breeding and genetic improvement are also used to improve growth rates. In addition, silviculture
and harvesting methods can be adapted to maintain conditions that naturally reduce the
risk of losses from fire, insects, disease and competing vegetation.
Our vision of sustainable forest management
includes integrated land use and forest management plans for important values at
appropriate scales from the whole landscape to the local site, for short- and long-term
goals. It will require research, continual learning and adaptation, using ecologically
sound and scientifically advanced tools and practices, to realize the concept.
The commitment of all those who work, live or have an interest in
the forest, particularly those who are entrusted with its stewardship, is important to
realize our vision. Resource management professionals and technicians have a
responsibility to ensure that their work reflects knowledge, competence and dedication.
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Ethical conduct on the part of all those who direct, practice
or judge performance in forest management is essential.
Sustainable forest management recognizes a forest's potential
to sustain a range of values and the needs and rights of all users, and strives to find
the best balance of uses based on the relative benefits and impacts of management
Sustainable forest management requires an adaptive management
approach, following exemplary forest practice that is grounded on the best available
Coordinated direction, applied to objectives from broad land
use plans to local site-specific goals, must guide all forest operations.
Forest land tenure systems must balance rights with
responsibilities, encourage sound stewardship, sustain a supply of resources and provide
opportunities for a fair return on investments.
Forestry practices must be based on a sound understanding of
ecological prin-ciples and of the goals established for the forest.
Framework for Action
We will plan for a full range of environmental, social, economic
and cul-tural forest values, guided by goals defined at appropriate scales and for
appropriate time horizons:
2.1 By giving priority to research that
assists resource managers in analysing information on a variety of forest values, and in
assessing the impact of management options; and by pro-viding information and tools that
are spatially explicit; include timber, non-timber and non-consumptive values; assess
feasibility and risks; and transfer technology.
2.2 By using forecasting models and
techniques to predict potential outcomes as they relate to desired goals in forest
2.3 By developing and implementing forest
management strategies and guidelines to ensure long-term genetic, species and habitat
diversity, and to conserve critical characteristics such as old-growth forests in the
2.4 By reviewing and where necessary
revising the processes of land use and forest management planning, to encompass public
involvement and input; landscape-level planning; national and international commitments
goal setting for sustainable production of forest resources; the management of other
land-base and subsurface resources; protection of sites with cultural or spiritual
significance; protection of genetic, species and habitat diversity; conservation of valued
characteristics in the landscape; Aboriginal values; and assessments of sustainability of
land use and forest management options.
2.5 By ensuring that forest management
plans include monitoring and reporting on measurable objectives and indicators, consistent
with the CCFM Canadian framework of national criteria and indicators of sustainable forest
2.6 By using the best available knowledge
of local ecological conditions, including soil, climate, water, terrain, vegetation and
wildlife habitat, as part of the planning process for forest roads, harvesting systems and
2.7 By assessing the quantity and area of
forest resources to be harvested and replaced, based on forecasts of needs, forecasts of
supply, opportunities for intensive silviculture and sustainable forest management goals.
2.8 By ensuring that agreements to
harvest various forest resources from public forest lands promote an ecosystem approach to
forest management, consistent with land use and forest management plans and with
commitments 2.1 to 2.7.
We will review and improve our
silvicultural systems and practices:
2.9 By seeking the views of appropriate
agencies, organizations, communities and interest groups with responsibilities and
knowledge of wildlife, hydrology, soils, ecology and other forest values for inclusion in
2.10 By implementing the best available
silvicultural systems and practices for ecosystem renewal and for maintaining or enhancing
ecosystem health for each site type.
We will ensure the prompt renewal of disturbed forests:
2.11 By ensuring that silvicultural
systems and timber harvesting plans include provisions for regeneration and tending that
encourage the natural biological diversity, successional patterns and productivity of the
forest ecosystems and which make provision for natural disturbances as well as other
forest uses and conservation.
We will manage forests with concern for the economic, social and
ecological impacts of fire, insects, disease, competing vegetation and climate change:
2.12 By reviewing fire policy, developing
fire management strategies and determining appropriate levels of protection, based on
increased understanding of fire, ecology and on economics.
2.13 By expanding the use of integrated
pest management and alternative vegetation management, maintaining import quarantine
controls, and emphasizing non-chemical approaches and biological controls, where
2.14 By developing predictive models for
climate change and their impacts on forest ecosystems.
We will encourage
forest stewardship and the use of the best forestry practices:
2.15 By maintaining model and
demonstration forests, with emphasis on advancing sustainable forest management decision
making, planning and techniques, transferring knowledge and technology.
2.16 By defining and communicating
ethics, general rules of conduct, and roles of all professions involved, in support of
2.17 By encouraging the establishment of
legislation where it does not already exist, regarding the professional practice of
forestry and the registration and accountability of professional foresters.