IQALUIT, August 14, 2000 -- At the annual meeting of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers which was chaired by Alberta Minister of Environment Halvar Jonson, Ministers dealt with a wide range of key issues affecting the future of the sustainable management of forests and the competitiveness of the forest sector.
Forest 2020: sustaining forest stewardship and economic development
The CCFM discussed an innovative Canada-wide approach to increase the conservation value of forests while ensuring the continued growth of the forest industry. Produced by a special Task Force, Forest 2020 will bring together environmental leadership, community stability, economic development and recent advances in science and technology to enhance and sustain the high contribution of forests to the quality of life of all Canadians.
The Honourable Halvar Jonson, Minister of Environment for Alberta and current Chair of the CCFM said "Forest 2020 will not only benefit Canadians but also show the world how Canada is leading the way towards Sustainable Forest Management through decisive commitments and actions."
Federal, provincial and territorial governments have worked together on a common basis to articulate this new approach. The next step, to which Ministers have also committed, is to initiate a dialogue to involve Canadians in this process of change.
Ministers will build on their respective responsibilities and jurisdictions to make Forest 2020 a reality and an example. Ralph Goodale, Federal minister for Natural Resources Canada welcomed the opportunity to play a role in attracting investment into potential new forestry initiatives, such as high yield, fast growing plantations. "I believe we can create a climate that will generate greater investment in Canada's forest resources, using a variety of potential new instruments."
Sustainable Forest Management
The CCFM released today its "Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forest Management - National Status 2000" report. Based on the best available scientific and technical information, the report indicates that Canada's forests are healthy and that Canadians are improving their knowledge of forest ecosystems and their approaches to forest management.
"Canada's domestic Criteria and Indicators framework reflects an approach to forest management which is based on the recognition that forests are ecosystems that provide a wide range of environmental, economic and social benefits" said the Honourable Halvar Jonson, Minister of Environment for Alberta and current Chair of the CCFM.
This report, the latest in a series, clearly illustrates Canada's commitment to its forests and to their long-term health, conservation and sustainability.
National Forest Information System
In order to facilitate communication and encourage effective implementation of sustainable forest management practices, improving access to timely and accurate forest information was formally recognized as a priority by the Council.
"I am very pleased that the provincial/territorial and federal governments agreed to initiate the first phase of a multi-phased project to develop a National Forest Information System that will support analysis and reporting on forestry issues," said Alberta Environment Minister Halvar Jonson.
Ontario Natural Resources Minister, John Snobelen, championed the development of the National Forest Information System and was supported by federal Natural Resources Minister, Ralph Goodale.
Therefore, the CCFM agreed to develop phase one of the National Forest Information System which is intended to acquire, integrate, process and disseminate data and information from autonomous, distributed databases to support analysis of and reporting on forestry issues. As such, it mandated a Steering Committee to develop an infrastructure and a governance model addressing policy issues that relate to transparency, access, harmonization and linkages among the existing and new databases. The Steering Committee will look at opportunities for cooperation and coordination with other government departments and agencies and, ultimately non-government organizations.
Ministers considered the state of development of forest certification systems in Canada. While recognizing the good accomplishments made to date, Ministers would like to see the pace of development of standards and their implementation accelerated in light of the growing market demand.
The CCFM Ministers asked officials, therefore, to consult with interested parties, including industry, environmental non-government organizations, aboriginals and labour, on options for the development of appropriate and effective standards and an equivalency framework for Canadian certification systems in order to advance the implementation of certification, while respecting the regional diversity of Canadian forestry circumstances and the various certification systems currently under development.
International Forest Policy
Federal Minister of Natural Resources Ralph Goodale, provided an overview of Canada's efforts in the international Forest Policy arena most of which continue to focus on the pursuit of an international forest convention. "It's an objective Canada has worked toward since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit" said Minister Goodale. "I am proud to say that ministers of CCFM reconfirmed their commitment to this objective and also agreed to work together to better address international forest issues and prepare for the year 2002, when progress in implementing commitments made at the Earth Summit will be reviewed".
Ministers noted the difficulties faced by the United States in fighting the heavy forest fires over the summer and that the equipment and personnel provided by Canadians are of assistance.
Ontario, Next Year's Chair
Ontario Natural Resources Minister John Snobelen, who is responsible for forest and land management in his province, assumed the chair of the CCFM for the coming year. In accepting the chair, Minister Snobelen noted that "The initiatives of the CCFM are important. They are based on sound science and support sustainable forest management policies and practices across Canada. The coming year will be very important in terms of continuing improvements in forest stewardship and information management. I look forward to building on the achievements of Ontario's Living Legacy and Forest Accord to support improvements in forest conservation and economic development across Canada. I am pleased and honored to assume the chair of the CCFM."
For further information, contact:
|André H. Rousseau
Canadian Forest Service
Natural Resources Canada
Tel.: (613) 947-9087
Fax: (613) 947-9038
Tel.: (780) 427-8636
Fax: (780) 427-1874