Individual Progress Reports
Canada is endowed with an abundance of natural resources and vast forests that cover nearly half the nation's land area. Our forests are part of our heritage and national identity. Canadians believe that they come to us as a legacy to sustain and pass on, recognizing that these life-supporting ecosystems provide a wide array of environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits ranging from the spiritual to the material.
The following overview describes some of Canada's activities related to sustainable forest management that are consistent with the G8 Action Programme on Forests.
Data on Canadas Forests
In 1990, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) established the National Forestry Database Program (NFDP) to provide a quantitative description of the level of activity in any period, to mark change in activity and to determine changes in the resource itself. Since then, information on the financial aspects of forest management has been added, along with information on the use of pest control products. However, expansion of the database into the realm of non-timber forest values continues to be a challenge.
Another initiative, the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI), facilitates the exchange of forestry-related information. It is driven by partnerships among the federal and provincial and territorial governments and the private sector and academia, the purpose of which is to facilitate timely access to geospatial data, information holdings and services to support policy development, decision-making and economic activity.
Criteria and Indicators (C&I)
In 1995, after a year-long process of consultation, the CCFM adopted a framework of national C&I for sustainable forest management. The criteria represent forest values that Canadians want to sustain and, with the indicators, track the nation's progress toward sustainable forest management.
Implementation is underway and reports describing Canada's ability to measure the forest values that Canadians wish to sustain are at: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/cfs/proj/ppiab/ci. In addition, the CCFM approved a plan to collect data and information to report on sustainable forest management, in 2000, through a core set of 49 indicators.
Canadians have developed a cost-effective combination of computer software and airborne remote-sensing technology that produce detailed and meaningful pictures of forest composition. The new system automatically groups trees according to their species and other salient characteristics, enabling forest managers to compile faster and more accurate inventories, to pinpoint areas that are ready to harvest, and to detect areas that need protection or help in regenerating.
A new project, Earth Observation for Sustainable Development of Forests (EOSD), is being developed to monitor the sustainable development of Canada's forests from space. Two federal partners, the Canadian Forest Service and the Canadian Space Agency, are mounting the ten-year project in co-operation with the provinces and territories. It will support, with space based technology, Canada's priorities and international commitments for monitoring the sustainable development of its forests and for meeting forest information needs of the Kyoto Protocol. The status and major changes in the composition, distribution, structure and function of forests over time will be quantified. The remote sensing observations will also form part of a three-stage new national forest inventory. It is intended that products and data will be widely available via intelligent information systems.
Canada also launched GeoConnections, a national project to make Canadian geospatial information available on the Internet, and the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure (CGDI), the geographic information component of the information highway.
Each year, crown fires are responsible for a large proportion of the forests lost to fire world-wide. The CFS participated in an international ground-breaking study on the behaviour of crown fires (hugely destructive fires in which flames spread quickly across tree tops, consuming vast areas in a short time). The study, which resulted in a detailed, field-tested physical model of crown fires, provides information on how these fires start and spread.
This crown fire model, along with the fire monitoring systems developed in Canada has established Canada as the world's leading innovator in advanced forest fire management. The system developed by Canadian scientists represents the culmination of 75 years of fire science. It includes computer programs that can help fire managers evaluate the risks and spread of forest fires, and can offer managers efficient ways of fighting fires, right down to the number of water bombers needed and where to position initial-attack crews. In the 1980s, the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System gained international recognition when it was adapted for use in New Zealand and Alaska. More recently, the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (CWFIS) has been adapted for use in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, South East Asia, Florida and Mexico, with other provinces and countries giving it close consideration.
In 1998, Canada played an active role in the discussions related to a proposed Global Disaster Information Network (GDIN), sponsored by the United States Department of State. GDIN is an outgrowth of the G7 Information Society, Global Emergency Management Information Network Initiative, formerly led by the CFS.
III. National Forest Programmes
Canada's National Forest Strategy
A new five-year National Forest Strategy was adopted in May 1998. It provides a framework that will guide the policies and actions of Canada's forest community into the next millennium, setting out nine strategic directions that encompass 31 objectives and 121 commitments to action. The strategic directions are:
A report on implementing the strategic action plans will be ready in April 2000.
The Canadian Forest Service (CFS) has identified climate change as a priority for science and technology (S&T) research to assist Canada meet its present and future national and international reporting requirements. A Climate Change Task Group made up of scientists and science managers identified two key research needs around which specific deliverables were formulated:
|i)||enhanced knowledge and prediction and measurement capabilities pertaining to forest global cycles and the impacts of climate change on Canadian forest ecosystems; and|
|ii)||adaptation and mitigation options and strategies.|
Simultaneously, all of the longer-term research is continuing. This involves experiments and measurements in the field, as well as modelling activities and research into the sensitivities of various genetic complexes to environmental flux.
At the international level, CFS climate change scientists pursue their efforts in support of scientific institutions such as the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), and the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP). The CFS will also host the International Conference on the Role of Boreal Forests and Forestry in the Global Carbon Budget, to be held in Edmonton in May 2000.
In Canada, a network of eleven working-scale forests is operational across most of the major forest eco-regions. Ranging in size from 100,000 to 1,500,000 hectares, they cover more than 8.5 million hectares and operate on the basis of partners working together on shared sustainable forest management goals within the parameters of unique social, ecological and economic conditions of each forest area. One example of collaboration at the network level is the development of indicators at each site that are locally significant and consistent with Canada's national criteria and indicators framework.
Further, an Aboriginal-led model forest was established in 1998 and a network-wide initiative has increased Aboriginal involvement at the other ten sites.
Official Development Assistance
Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), provides assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Bilateral forestry development assistance is provided on a responsive basis and is generally undertaken within the framework of national forest program where these exist. Such activity covers about 120 projects in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Central and Eastern Europe. Financial support to these and other efforts amounts to approximately $50 million per year and includes commitments to multilateral institutions and initiatives. Increased public and political interest in international forest issues and sustainable forest management in the tropics will likely result in increased technology transfer and financial support to developing countries.
One major activity for Canada internationally is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tree Seed Centre Project in South Africa, initiated in 1991 with a budget of $11.8 million over 6 years. Additional funding has since been allocated to continue the program.
Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF)
As mandated by the nineteenth Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the implementation of the Agenda 21, the IFF focused its work on three categories, one of which dealt with future international arrangements and mechanisms for all types of forests (Category III).
In support of the IFF's mandate to identify the possible elements and work towards consensus on future international arrangements and mechanisms, for example, a legally binding instrument on all types of forests, Costa Rica and Canada entered into a partnership to provide a neutral, transparent, participatory and representative forum to facilitate technical discussions. Twenty-one countries and international organizations contributed to the initiative, financially and otherwise, making it possible to hold regional meetings around the world.
Participation was open to governments, intergovernmental institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Indigenous Peoples, women's groups and the private sector. Attention was also paid to reflect balanced geographic representation and the range of views on the issues addressed.
IV. Protected Areas
Approximately 83 million hectares are protected in Canada, of which roughly 32 million hectares are forested. Less than half of Canada's forests is managed for timber production. The rest is considered open or inaccessible.
In 1995, a review of progress related to the 1992 National Forest Strategy noted less than anticipated progress toward completing a network of protected areas and consequently identified this goal as being of the highest priority. The restatement of the commitment to protected areas in Canada's new National Forest Strategy, endorsed in 1998, reflects this priority.
In 1998, the G8 Action Programme on Forests called on member countries to achieve consensus on categories of protected areas, drawing on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) protected areas management categories and other classification systems. It further suggested that members identify key forest types not sufficiently represented within the existing network of protected areas.
Although there continues to be a high degree of interest in protected forest areas domestically and internationally, Canada faces a variety of challenges, aside from the issues of overlapping responsibilities and co-ordination between levels of government. For example, there are no nationally agreed principles for conservation planning; a definition of the term representative has not been formalized; and there exist hundreds of different categories of protected areas. Furthermore, Canada does not currently have a national mechanism to comprehensively collect and report on biological diversity data in relation to protected areas.
The provinces and territories tend to take action toward establishing protected areas according to their own circumstances and decisions are frequently based on geography rather than biological diversity. Some provinces, such as Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia, have made significant progress toward protecting representative areas in recent years. Other provinces and territories are involved in extensive consultations to reconcile the interests of the public and industry.
The Forest Stewardship Recognition Program
Launched at the National Forest Congress in 1998, the Forest Stewardship Recognition Program (FSRP) aims at stimulating awareness of and appreciation for stewardship, sustainable practices and forest biodiversity conservation efforts in Canada's forests. The program is intended to thank people for their work in these areas and share lessons learned to keep Canada's forests and wildlife populations healthy and secure. People, organizations and companies who make outstanding contributions are recognized.
V. Private Sector
Forests in Canada are largely owned by the public in that nearly 90 percent of the country's commercially productive forest is the responsibility of provincial governments. Yet, that land is harvested almost exclusively by private forest companies through lease agreements.
While the exact terms vary, depending on the province and the duration of the lease, tenure agreements generally impose strict requirements on forest companies, ones that attempt to balance the commercial goals of industry with the broader goals of government and the public. These partnerships are complex and changing, are affected by market forces, environmental conditions, government initiatives, international trends and by the changing attitudes and values of Canadians. Public interest has helped shape forest legislation and management throughout Canada's history, and it continues to do so today, more directly than ever before.
In 1997, the CCFM established a task force to review taxation policies and their impact on sustainable private woodlot management. During its meeting in September 1998, ministers received the study which confirmed that taxation regimes at all levels of government raise a number of concerns. The ministers agreed to forward the study to their respective finance ministers once the full extent of the recommendations are evaluated.
As of July 1999, more than 3.7 million hectares were certified in Canada under one of three systems. One forest area (230 000 hectares) was certified under the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), three (210 000 hectares) were certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and six companies (3.7 million hectares) have portions of their forestry operations certified under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14000). While these represent a large area, they only form a small share of Canada=s forest.
Governments in Canada have not officially endorsed any particular certification scheme, believing such activities should be market based and market driven. In this regard, governments have been offering technical and research support while ensuring initiatives do not become barriers to trade.
Helping Other Countries
Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency and the International Development Research Centre, provides support to private sector enterprises interested in commercial forest-related activities in developing countries and in countries with economies in transition. Such support is designed to assist Canadian and developing country private sector partners in bringing joint ventures to fruition. However, interest within the Canadian business community to pursue investment opportunities and partnerships in tropical forestry, while increasing, remains modest.
VI. Illegal Logging
Illegal logging, when taken as the illegal harvesting, processing or export of timber on a large scale, is not a major concern in Canada, partly because of legislation and regulations that clearly define procedures pertaining to planning, harvesting and processing of wood. Another reason is the low value of the forest resource in Canada compared to precious tropical species.
From a Canadian perspective, illegal logging is the action of individuals removing live or cut trees from properties that do not belong to them or on which they do not have permission to operate. In this context, provincial and federal authorities are implementing measures ranging from public education, technology development, monitoring, investigations and criminal prosecution of persons conducting activities against the law. Currently, $10 to $20 million per year is lost to tree rustlers in British Columbia.
Canada is nonetheless addressing this issue through some of its research activities. For example, the CFS work on wood DNA-analysis techniques may lead to a forensic spin-off: catching and thwarting tree thieves. As CFS scientists refine methods of identifying tree DNA, it may be possible to match a specific yellow or western red cedar log with its stump and to determine whether the log was harvested without authorization. Trees, like all living organisms, contain DNA-genetic material in cells that are as individual as a set of fingerprints.
In addition to being of use domestically, this promising technology can be easily transferred abroad to help countries deal with problems that reach larger proportions.
Source: The Government of Japan
||This Information System is provided by the University of Toronto Library and the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.|
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