MNR SUSTAINABLE FOREST INITIATIVE

Originally Published in the June 1991 issue of The Outfitter Magazine.

The Honourable Bud Wildman, Minister of Natural Resources, has recently outlined a new five-point sustainable forestry initiative for Ontario. It is designed to change the direction of forest management in the province. The Minister made the announcement during National Forestry Week, May 5 – 11, 1991.

The new program will focus on information gathering and public participation, and will emphasize improving knowledge about forest ecosystems and alternative silviculture systems, increased research and sharing this information with the public.

“Traditionally, this province’s forestry programs have focused mainly on the production of timber,” said Mr. Wildman. “Sustainable forestry is management that ensures the long term health of forest ecosystems. It means managing for all forest values (e.g. wildlife, fisheries, tourism, timber), protecting old-growth ecosystems, reducing our dependence on chemical herbicides, involving the public in decisions, and enhancing our forests in the south.”

The MNR believes that sustainable forestry is the best approach to addressing the public’s concerns and demands regarding how the forests of Ontario are managed. Such concerns, many of which have been expressed through the on-going Class EA Timber Management Hearings, include:

The Ministry’s sustainable forestry initiatives are based on the following assumptions:

The MNR will spend a total of $10 million in 1991 on the five new initiatives.

First, a three-person working group will co-ordinate the development of a comprehensive forest policy framework through a broad public consultation process. This policy will include:

A draft report from the committee will be submitted to the Minister by the fall of 1992.

Second, an old-growth ecosystem conservation strategy will be developed based on input from the scientific community, interest groups and the public. The MNR will work to improve knowledge of old-growth ecosystems in a number of ways, including:

Third, community forest pilot projects will be created in four communities to test options for increasing local involvement in forestry. The objectives of this initiative are:

Fourth, Ontario’s silvicultural program will be enhanced through an enlarged research program and the field testing of alternatives to current practices, including options to reduce the use of chemical herbicides, and the usage of environmentally sensitive alternatives as they become available.

As part of this initiative, the Minister also announced that approximately 80,000 hectares of forest will be sprayed with chemical herbicides in the spring of 1991; a 20 percent reduction from 1990.

Finally, a private woodlands strategy will be introduced to promote sustainable forestry on private lands, mainly in southern Ontario.

The keys to the success of the sustainable forestry initiative are the development of the comprehensive forest policy framework and effective public participation, according to Mr. Wildman.

“Ontarians from all walks of life are demanding the opportunity to help establish forest policy. We must increase community involvement and empowerment through new forms of partnerships. We must protect and enhance our natural environment, while nurturing a competitive forest products industry that will provide long-term employment,” Mr. Wildman said.

Editor’s note: The information for the above article was gathered and/or reprinted from recent MNR Press Releases and Fact Sheets on the sustainable forestry initiatives (with kind permission of the MNR.)

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