Ontario’s Crown Forests: Opportunities to enhance carbon storage? A discussion paper

ERO number
Notice type
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Decision posted
Comment period
November 22, 2016 - January 23, 2017 (62 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
November 22, 2016
to January 23, 2017

Decision summary

We reviewed and considered all feedback received during the comment period for the discussion paper, "Ontario’s Crown Forests: Opportunities to Enhance Carbon Storage?". We will continue to consider options for supporting and enhancing carbon storage in Ontario’s Crown Forests.

Decision details

This proposal notice invited stakeholders, First Nation and Métis communities, and the public to review and provide comments on the discussion paper, "Ontario’s Crown Forests: Opportunities to Enhance Carbon Storage?". 

The analysis of feedback on the two approaches considered in the discussion paper informed and guided the development of subsequent notices:

  • Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, posted November 29th 2018
  • Industrial Emission Performance Standards, posted February 12th 2019
  • Ontario’s draft Forest Sector Strategy, posted on December 4th 2019
  • Proposed Revisions to the Forest Manuals, posted on December 20th 2020

Analysis of this feedback will also inform future work on relevant forest policies, guides, manuals and procedures as they are reviewed and updated. We will consult on those future changes.

A decision was made on February 6, 2020 to finalize the feedback from the discussion paper, "Ontario’s Crown Forests: Opportunities to enhance carbon storage?".


Comments received

Through the registry


By email


By mail

View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Comments were received from non-government organizations, Indigenous organizations and First Nation communities, forest industry, citizen advocacy groups, academia and individuals.

Key areas of discussion addressed three broad themes: i) engagement and consultation; ii) science-basis and approach; and iii) balancing multiple objectives:

i) Engagement and consultation

  • the need for engaging and consulting with Indigenous communities, free, prior and informed consent, impacts to Indigenous peoples and accommodation
  • the overall stewardship role of Indigenous communities, Indigenous involvement, co-management, and traditional ecological knowledge
  • benefit sharing of emissions reductions and compensation (indigenous, industry and communities)
  • Aboriginal rights and interests including treaty rights and legal ownership of emissions reductions achieved from forests
  • the overall need to engage with rural and other communities who may be directly or indirectly impacted

ii) Science-basis and approach

  • transparency on assumptions and uncertainty
  • scope of analysis excluding Far North, private lands, unmanaged forests, parks, protected areas, wetlands, peatlands and grasslands
  • temporal scale unclear (e.g. 2020, 2030, 2050 or 2100 objective)
  • the need to address landscape carbon storage, the benefits of unmanaged and primary forests and the importance of old growth/conservation as carbon sinks
  • varied perspectives on the roles that harvested wood products, biomass/bioenergy and/or substitution should play including the role of conservation and reduced harvest activities
  • the need for full lifecycle analysis, carbon baselines, carbon accounting and to understand forest management’s current carbon footprint and ecosystem importance

iii) Balancing multiple objectives

  • the importance of forests, forest sector and sustainable forest management in climate change mitigation; business as usual is already positively contributing; existing silviculture and renewal success
  • balance carbon among other forest values and its trade-offs/synergies (e.g., economic growth, old growth, habitat, biodiversity, soil nutrients, fire, forest health, natural heritage, protected areas, recreational use)
  • being consistent with other legislation, regulations and policy; tenure certainty; managed forest versus natural forest baseline
  • impacts of climate changes on mitigation potential (e.g. precipitation, temperature); ecosystem vulnerability; and linking adaptation with mitigation activities
  • consider full range of activities including longer rotations; conservation, demand for harvested wood products and current wood utilization

Comments received ranged from positive to cautious with a selection being negative. Some comments received were outside the scope of the discussion paper.

Three information sessions and a public webinar were organized during the original 62-day comment period.  In addition to the posting on the Environmental Registry, Ontario met in-person with external stakeholders and partners on more than 80 occasions between February 2015 and March 2018 on forest carbon approaches.

In response to the comments received, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry organized a two-day Indigenous Forest-Climate Forum in October 2017 and a Forest Carbon Science Forum in November 2017 structured around two-way dialogue to further explore these themes. We also organized additional regional information sessions with Indigenous Communities held in Timmins, Thunder Bay, Kenora and Bracebridge in January 2018. Based on the comments received we have also updated related Ontario.ca content to reflect several of the suggestions for changes to improve clarity.

Analysis of this feedback has been retained to inform future work on forest carbon and climate change considerations in forest management in Ontario.

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Spooner Collins

Phone number
MNRF - Crown Forests and Lands Policy Branch - Forest Legislation and Planning Section

Roberta Bondar Place - 70 Foster Drive
Suite 400
Sault Ste Marie, ON
P6A 6V5

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
Notice type
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

November 22, 2016 - January 23, 2017 (62 days)

Proposal details

Description of policy

Ontario is committed to sustainable forest management to ensure long-term Crown forest health. The province also recognizes climate change as a legitimate and urgent problem requiring government action. Healthy forests play an important role in mitigating climate change impacts because they can absorb carbon dioxide from the air and store it in wood. How Ontario’s Crown forests are managed can influence the amount of carbon stored in trees and wood products or released into the atmosphere. Specific forest management practices may reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while others may increase greenhouse gas removals from the atmosphere.

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) initiated the Forest Carbon Policy project to support Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy and goals for moving towards a low carbon economy. In Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan, the Forest Carbon Policy project is identified as a key action.

The MNRF is exploring how Ontario’s managed Crown forests can best contribute to the government’s objective to fight climate change while continuing to contribute to the social, economic and environmental needs of current and future generations. This discussion paper provides information about forest carbon and sustainable forest management in a changing climate, presents goals and outcomes for the Forest Carbon Policy project and outlines two policy approaches for optimizing the amount of carbon that can be mitigated in Ontario’s managed Crown forests.

Through the discussion paper, MNRF is engaging in a dialogue about two potential forest carbon policy approaches to optimize the mitigation potential of managed Crown forests, while remaining consistent with the principles of sustainable forest management. Approaches could influence sustainable forest management operations occurring prior to transporting the wood to the mill gate, including access (e.g., roads and landings), harvesting (e.g., cutting and hauling), renewal (e.g., regeneration), tending, and protection (e.g., from insects, disease, and wildfire).

The two policy approaches under consideration include:

  1. forest carbon management - a government-led approach that could use forest carbon policies to influence the amount of carbon stored in forests and in wood products.
  2. forest carbon offset projects - a market-driven approach that would enable forest carbon offset projects on managed Crown forests.

Based on the results of consultation and further analyses, policy will be developed that optimizes climate change mitigation while balancing multiple forest objectives and values.

Purpose of policy

The purpose of the discussion paper is to explore forest carbon policy approaches and opportunities to optimize the mitigation of climate change and reduce GHG emissions through Ontario’s managed Crown forests.

Other information

How Might Ontario’s Managed Crown Forests Mitigate Climate Change? Developing Forest Carbon Policy. discussion paper is provided.

Public consultation

This proposal was posted for a 62 day public review and comment period starting November 22, 2016. Comments were to be received by January 23, 2017.

All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.

Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.

Other public consultation opportunities

Further engagement opportunities on the discussion paper will be available in fall/winter 2016/17 through information sessions to be scheduled in Thunder Bay, North Bay and Toronto. For more information please contact forestcarbon@ontario.ca.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.


Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from November 22, 2016
to January 23, 2017

Connect with us


Kirsten Corrigal

Phone number
Crown Forests and Lands Policy Branch

70 Foster Drive
Suite 400
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6A 6V5

Office phone number