1997 Canadian Council of Forest Ministers Meeting


St. John's, Newfoundland – October 2, 1997 -- Canadians have taken another significant step towards their goal of sustainable forest management with the release of a new report on Criteria and Indicators (C&I), the Technical Report and the "popular" version indicating progress to date, at the annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM).

The report fulfills Canada's commitment to the 1992 National Forest Strategy and to the international community at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro the same year.

At the St. John's meeting, chaired by Kevin Aylward, Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods for Newfoundland and Labrador, the forest ministers also addressed a host of new and ongoing initiatives, including the renewal of the National Forest Strategy, follow-up to their June National Forest Science and Technology Forum and their pursuit of an international forest convention.

Measuring Canada's Forest Sustainability

The C&I report, Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management in Canada, describes Canada's present ability to measure the condition of its forests and to track its progress toward sustaining and enhancing all forest values--social, economic and environmental. "The report provides valuable insight into our capacity to measure Canada's achievements scientifically," observed Ms. Jean McCloskey on behalf of Minister Ralph Goodale, federal Minister of Natural Resources. CCFM efforts will now focus on expanding current databases to enable Canada to report on more environmental and social values. To reach that goal the provinces who have responsibility to manage forests will undertake the appropriate initiatives to make this possible.

Renewing Our National Forest Plan

Ministers reviewed the final evaluation of the 1992 National Forest Strategy, which was conducted by an independent Blue Ribbon Panel of experts, as represented by Mr. Al Davidson, Past-president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

The Panel's detailed findings form the backdrop for the CCFM-led public consultations through which a new, revised Strategy is being developed. Ministers reviewed the outcomes of the regional consultations with representatives from a broad spectrum of the forest community, which were held in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto, Québec and Dartmouth in September. Ministers indicated satisfaction with input received to date and stated that they look forward to the upcoming National Forum to be held in Winnipeg on November 26-27, 1997 where the resulting draft five-year Strategy will be discussed.

"The process will culminate in Ottawa at the National Forest Congress in February 1998, where the new, revised National Forest Strategy will be presented," explained Minister Kevin Aylward, outgoing Chair of the CCFM.

Science and Technology for the Future

With the success of the CCFM-sponsored National Forest S&T Forum held on June 2-3, 1997, Ministers agreed to the development of a collaborative Canadian forest S&T course of action. CCFM agreed that the S&T course of action should be considered in developing the 1998 National Forest Strategy.

Ministers also called for the establishment of an S&T Alliance to foster better communication and cooperation among the Canadian forest community. "Science is essential in resolving the complex issues identified by the S&T Forum participants. The Forum has given us a blueprint for the harmonization of Science and Technology priorities and the exchange of information. A strategic alliance will provide the collaboration needed to lead Canadians into the 21st Century," said Minister Aylward.

Canada's International Role

International forestry issues once again topped the CCFM agenda with Ministers reaffirming their unanimous resolve to actively pursue an international forest convention. As such, Canada will work within the newly established Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) to further this objective. To broaden the base of support for a convention within the IFF, the CCFM tasked a working group to further define potential convention elements.

"Recognition of the need for an international forest convention has been gaining ground steadily since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. More than 30 countries now support Canada's drive for a convention," stated Ms. McCloskey on behalf of Minister Goodale.

Other issues on the table during the CCFM annual meeting included a discussion of Canada's participation at the upcoming World Forestry Congress in Turkey, private woodlots and carbon sequestration. Ministers supported the proposal that Québec City be presented as a candidate for the World Forest Congress in 2003. Ministers also agreed to review income tax policies related to private woodlots to determine their impact on sustainable management practices and, if appropriate, to recommend ways these tax policies could be improved to encourage sustainable forest management.

In accepting the CCFM Chair for the coming year, British Columbia Minister of Forests David Zirnhelt summed up the CCFM approach for achieving sustainable forest management at home and abroad. "The initiatives developed and supported by the CCFM constitute a comprehensive, multi-tiered approach, and our approach is producing concrete results. With sound science comes well-directed policy. Broad consultation with all forest stakeholders and continued federal-provincial/territorial cooperation is leading to consensus and practical on-the-ground solutions. Finally, through continued international dialogue and Canadian leadership, the global goal of sustainable forest management will be a little closer on the horizon."

The "Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management in Canada" report is available on the Internet at http://canadaforests.nrcan.gc.ca/articletopic/69.

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For further information:

André H. Rousseau
           Canadian Forest Service
           Natural Resources Canada            

Tel.: (613) 947-9087
           Fax.: (613) 947-9038

Ivan Downton
           Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods
           Government of Newfoundland and Labrador            

Tel.: (709) 637-2284
           Fax.: (709) 634-4378