Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ Annual Meeting


VICTORIA, September 29, 1998 — At the annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, the ministers dealt with a wide range of key international and national issues affecting the sustainable management of forests and the competitiveness of the forest sector, including the pursuit of an international forest convention, certification, the Kyoto Framework Convention on Climate Change, private woodlot taxation, forest jobs, aboriginal forestry and co-operation for the advancement of forest science and technology.

"Our initiatives in these areas will help Canada's forest sector maintain its international competitive edge," said B.C. Forests Minister Zirnhelt, chair of the meeting.

Sustainable Forest Management Through Partnership

Canada's forest ministers agreed to a co-operative approach for implementing the new National Forest Strategy, the most recent in a series of progressive workplans.

Commitment to making the new strategy, "Sustainable Forests: A Canadian Commitment," a reality across Canada was confirmed on May 1, 1998, at the National Forest Congress where the second Canada Forest Accord was signed by an increased number of government and non-government forest community organizations, including industry, professional foresters, forest technicians, Aboriginal peoples, private woodlot owners, environmental groups, research and academic institutions. Québec reaffirmed that, while it did not sign the Canada Forest Accord because of a difference of opinion regarding the wording of the text, it nevertheless shares in the values and the general objectives, and will participate selectively in the activities of the Coalition. The CCFM is the public trustee for the strategy.

"The collaborative implementation of the strategy and the effective communication of Canadians' intentions, activities and accomplishments, particularly at the international level, are key to demonstrating to the world that Canada practices leading-edge sustainable forestry in an open, public, co-ordinated, transparent and focussed manner," said federal Minister of Natural Resources Ralph Goodale. "This is a winning formula for everyone, where all of our efforts dovetail, supporting and enhancing one another."

International Policy Leadership and Competitiveness

Ministers reaffirmed their resolve to continue the active pursuit of an international forest convention through international fora, such as the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests.

"Recognition of the need for an international forest convention continues to gain ground around the world and we are working actively with our allies to increase support," stated Minister Goodale. Over the coming year, Canada and Costa Rica will be joined by other countries in holding a series of meetings, to define the elements of legally binding international arrangements.

The ministers recognized the increasing profile of certification as an issue in markets important for many Canadian forest products, and stated that the governments across Canada will work more closely together to ensure certification systems work within the Canadian context, fit within fair international standards and are not used in foreign markets as discriminatory trade barriers.

Ministers noted that the provisions of the Kyoto Framework Convention on Climate Change are posing challenges for the forest sector, and reviewed progress on joint federal, provincial and territorial efforts currently underway to advise them on forest-related options and opportunities under the Kyoto Protocol.

The ministers expressed support for on-going communication efforts to provide accurate, timely and authoritative information about Canada's sustainable forest practices and to ensure Canada maintains international market access for forest products. They also re-affirmed their support for Canada's bid to host the World Forestry Congress in Québec City in 2003.

Addressing Domestic Issues

Ministers received the study and recommendations of a task force they established one year earlier to review taxation policies and their impact on sustainable private woodlot management. The ministers noted the study provides a good overview of the situation that exists and confirms that taxation regimes in place at all levels of government raise a number of concerns. It also provides a comprehensive approach to addressing those concerns through taxation reform. The ministers agreed to forward the study to respective finance and revenue ministers once the full extent of the recommended changes have been evaluated.

The ministers discussed aboriginal forestry issues and re-affirmed the role forests play in enhancing social and economic opportunities for Canada's aboriginal peoples. They also noted the progress made in British Columbia by the recent signing of the Nisga'a Treaty which includes provisions for aboriginal forestry.

Ministers participated in yesterday's launch in Victoria of the Forest Coalition for the Advancement of Science and Technology - FORCAST. Members representing all areas of the forest sector, as well as governments, will promote the exchange and transfer of forest science and technology and ensure that the research is tailored to Canada's sustainable forest management and competitiveness needs.

"The CCFM is very pleased with the co-operative approach it initiated a few years ago to foster improved communication and co-operation among Canada's forest science and technology community," said Minister Zirnhelt.

Québec Deputy Minister Jean-Paul Beaulieu advised that the Minister of State for Natural Resources, Guy Chevrette, has agreed to chair the CCFM for the coming year. The Minister recognizes the importance accorded by his Ministry to the question of sustainable forest development. Indeed, the ministry has made the sustainable development of natural resources the key element of its 1998-2001 strategic plan. For the ministers' meeting in 1999, therefore, Québec wishes to hold discussions with the other Canadian forest ministers on certain target issues relating to forest management, including involving the public and, in particular, Aboriginal peoples in the management and enhancement of public forests.

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For further information, contact:

André H. Rousseau
           Canadian Forest Service
           Natural Resources Canada
           Tel: (613) 947-9087
           Fax: (613) 947-9038
Dale Leitch
           B.C. Ministry of Forests
           Tel: (250) 356-5109
           Fax: (250) 356-7903