Canadian Council of Forest Ministers Meeting


QUÉBEC, September 20, 1999 -- At the annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers which was chaired by Québec Minister of Natural Resources Jacques Brassard, Ministers dealt with a wide range of key issues affecting the sustainable management of forests and the competitiveness of the forest sector.

Some of the issues addressed included: global trends in forestry and their impact on forestry into the 21st century, progress in the pursuit of an international forest convention, the renewal of the International Forest Partnerships Program, the year 2000 report on Canadian Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management, certification, and the XIIth World Forest Congress 2003 which will be held in Canada, in Québec City.

For more than a decade, the forest Ministers have been very active in addressing domestic and international issues, as a Council, individually and through partnerships, in Canada and in the international arena. As such, they have been leading the shift made by the forest community in the sustainable management of their forests.

"Through a variety of strategic cooperative initiatives between ourselves and with the forest community, we have been quite successful in giving ourselves the necessary leading-edge tools and in making sustainable management a reality on the ground," stated this year's Chair, Minister Brassard. "Today, we discussed a host of new and ongoing initiatives. They will help us be better stewards and managers of the forest resource and help us be recognized as such. They will assist the forest sector maintain its international competitive edge, while creating jobs in the numerous forest communities that depend on our forests."

International Forestry Issues

Ministers reaffirmed their unanimous resolve to continue the active pursuit of an international forest convention through international fora such as the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests and the eight Costa Rica - Canada-led regional meetings presently being held worldwide and which will wrap up in Ottawa in December 1999.

"Recognition of the need for an international forest convention has continued to gain ground steadily since Rio, with numerous countries now supporting the drive for a convention," stated Natural Resources Canada Minister Ralph Goodale. "All agree that, in today's world, there is a need to work in a focussed and dedicated manner to address the many problems and opportunities facing the global forest community. As such, I will continue to work with my provincial and territorial colleagues toward the establishment of a convention."

The Ministers reiterated their support for on-going communication efforts to provide accurate, timely and authoritative information about sustainable forest management. As such, they renewed the CCFM International Forestry Partnerships Program.

The profile of certification continues to increase in many of the Canadian forest product markets and Ministers agreed that they will work more closely together to ensure certification systems work within the present context, fit within fair international standards and are not used in foreign markets as discriminatory trade barriers. Where trade issues are concerned, trade interests of Canada need to be aggressively pursued.

Examining Approach to Forestry for the Next Century

Ministers reviewed the global trends which are shaping forest management policy and practices. They concluded that there are various issues facing forestry that need to be studied closely. The Ministers agreed to create a CCFM task force that will elaborate a common vision for forestry in the year 2020.

Reporting Canada's Forest Sustainability

In 1995, the Council released its framework Defining Sustainable Forest Management: A Canadian Approach to Criteria and Indicators which it developed with a wide array of forest community stakeholders. In 1997, it released its report Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management in Canada, which described our ability to measure the condition of our forests and to track our progress toward sustaining and enhancing all forest values--social, economic and environmental. In April 2000, Canada will release its first report on sustainable forest management at the 8th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York. "This report will provide the world with a valuable insight into Canada's achievements in sustainable forest management," observed Minister Goodale.

Looking Ahead to 2003

Ministers Goodale and Brassard informed their colleagues that Canada's bid to host the XIIth World Forestry Congress in Québec City in the year 2003 had been successful. The Congress will be held September 22-30, 2003. It will offer a unique opportunity for about 5,000 participants from 175 FAO member states and countless other international organizations to share ideas and experiences to improve forestry practices and formulate recommendations.

"Canada's bid was supported by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers and the National Forest Strategy Coalition and this will be the first World Forestry Congress to be held on Canadian soil," said Minister Goodale. "For Québec and its many partners, this world event will be a special opportunity to exchange with other countries. It will allow us to share the knowledge and experiences of Quebec, of the other provinces and territories, and of Canada in the matter of sustainable forest management," added Minister Brassard.

Alberta, Next Year's Chair

Alberta Environment Minister Gary Mar, who has responsibility for forest stewardship and land management practices in his province, agreed to chair the CCFM for the coming year. In accepting the chair, Minister Mar noted that "The initiatives of the CCFM Council are comprehensive and involve a variety of stakeholders. They are producing concrete results. They are based on sound science and result in well-directed policy. The year 2000 will be very important, both in defining the paradigm shift required in forestry and in reporting in international forestry circles. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure in sustainable forest management, to the benefit of all."

- 30 -

For further information, contact:

André H. Rousseau
           Canadian Forest Service
           Natural Resources Canada
           Tel.: (613) 947-9087
           Fax: (613) 947-9038
Germain Paré
           Secteur des Forêts
           Ressources naturelles Québec
           Tel.: (418) 627-8646, extension 4167
           Fax: (418) 643-5651