|Written By: Cindy Hunter||Originally Published in the May/June 1995
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.
It’s home to 286 species of birds, shelters 309 other kinds of animals and supports 3,320 types of plants. It’s not a rainforest…it’s our forest, and now it is protected says the Ontario Government.
Ontario’s forests are protected by a new law. The Crown Forest Sustainability Act received a third reading on December 7, and Royal Assent on December 9 of last year. Now the law is in effect, replacing the Crown Timber Act.
Minister of Natural Resources Howard Hampton says the new legislation is needed to guarantee the long-term health of the forest eco-system, and the sustainability of forest-dependent opportunities, timber supply and jobs that depend on the forest for economic stability.
The new Bill is designed to serve several purposes, but most importantly to provide the sustainability of Crown forests in social, economic, and environmental needs of present and future generations.
To ensure the needs of NOTO members were met, Research Analyst Jim Antler got involved when the Bill was first introduced last summer. In August Jim presented NOTO’s case to a standing committee and managed to convince the committee to revise parts of the original draft of the Act to serve you better. Although NOTO supported the need for new legislation and believed in Bill 171, Jim suggested some improvements and amendments, and because of NOTO’s long commitment to the management of Ontario’s forests and natural resources, was taken very seriously.
The Act is being implemented through regulations and four new manuals dealing with planning, operations and silviculture, and information and scaling. The regulations have been developed in consultation with environmental, industrial and community organizations. The following are some of the changes suggested by NOTO:
In the draft legislation there was no definition of “sustainability” or principles of sustainability. NOTO encouraged these be added in the Act and in the end they were.
Part I, Article 2 of the Act now defines sustainability as “long term Crown forest health”. It also outlines that the determination of sustainability will be done in accordance with the new Forest Management Planning Manual that is being developed out of the Act.
The FMPM states that Crown forests will now be managed on an ecosystem basis.
“The focus of management has shifted from sustaining the yield of industrial timber products (i.e. timber management) to a focus on sustaining the ecosystem of which forests are part, while continuing to supply human benefits.”
(Draft FMPM - November 14, 1994, page 2)
The CFSA now also states that the Manual shall provide for sustainability of forests consistent with the following two principles.
Large, healthy, diverse and productive Crown forests and their associated ecological processes and biological diversity should be conserved.
The long term health and vigor of Crown forests should be provided for by using forest practices that, within the limits of silvicultural requirements, emulate natural disturbance and landscape patterns while minimizing adverse effects on plant life, animal life, water, soil, air and social and economic values, including recreational values and heritage values.
Part III, Article 24 of the Act allows a Minister of natural resources to make forest resources available for harvest in a management unit or allows them “to be used for a designated purpose”.
NOTO believes the words “designated purpose” hold a great deal of potential for protecting tourism values in Ontario’s forests as described below. Part VIII, Article 69 (1) allows the Minister to designate purposes for which forest resources can be used. Part III, Article 25, also allows the Minister to enter into agreements to supply persons with forest resources in a management unit.
Currently, in practice this means that the Minister allows forest resources (i.e. trees) to be harvested and enters into agreements with forest companies to provide them with license areas on which wood can be cut.
In the future, however, the new Act would allow the Minister to do the same thing for other forest resources (“designated purpose”). This could mean that harvesting a plant like ginseng could be made a designated purpose. As such, the Crown could control who harvests it, how much and on what area by granting a harvesting license (Part III, Article 27 (1)) on a specific area.
NOTO believes that tourism could also be a designated purpose under the Act. As such, NOTO could envision tourism license areas being set up (under Article 27 (1) in sensitive tourism areas (remote lakes) that would help protect these tourism values.
However, Article 32 (1) also states that the holder of a forest resource license shall pay an annual area charge to the Crown in respect to the land covered in the license. Currently, forest companies pay an area charge of $102 per square kilometer per year.
NOTO believes that this concept may have some merit as a way to protect tourism values and will investigate it further with MNR officials in the future.
The CFSA also specifies the creation of two new forestry trust funds that are designed to help ensure the future regeneration of harvested lands (Part V, Articles 48-51).
The Forest Renewal Trust will allow forest companies to be reimbursed for silvicultural costs related to renewing the forest after it is harvested. The money in the Trust will come from diverting a portion of the area charges and stumpage dues paid by the company into the Trust Fund.
The Forestry Futures Trust works in the same way, except that the money can be used to fund silviculture costs to companies relating to the following:
Where forest resources are killed or damaged by fire or natural causes;
For pest control purposes;
To fund silviculture costs on a forest unit where the license holder (company) is insolvent.
Part VIII, Article 69 of the Act grants the Crown the authority to make regulations under the Act for a wide variety of purposes. For your information, these may relate to such things as:
Designating “purposes” and “forest resources”
Terms and conditions applicable to forest resource licenses (i.e. setting area charges to be paid, records to be kept, amending licenses etc…)
Terms and conditions related to forest resource processing facilities
Resolving disputes between license holders
Approving or amending any Manuals prepared under Act.