Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy

ERO number
019-0880
Notice type
Policy
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Decision
Decision posted
Comment period
December 4, 2019 - February 5, 2020 (63 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
December 4, 2019
to February 5, 2020

Decision summary

We have approved Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy (FSS). The goal of the FSS is to grow the forest sector, create opportunity for Ontario families, support industry and encourage innovation and new investment, while ensuring the sustainability of our forests.

Decision details

A decision was made to proceed with the FSS with modifications made in response to public comments.

Comments received

Ten regional engagement sessions were held with First Nation and Métis communities; and six sessions were conducted with municipalities in January 2020.

Comments received

Through the registry

389

By email

32,736

By mail

11
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

Several changes were made to the draft FSS in response to comments received. They are as follows:

  • The Stewardship and Sustainability Pillar was moved to pillar position one to emphasize the importance of ensuring that environmental, social and economic values are identified and conserved.
  • The sustainability of our forests is a key principle of Ontario’s forest policy framework and a legislative requirement of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.  The FSS now reflects the prominence of Ontario’s sustainable forest policy framework including information about the supporting manuals and guides, forest trusts, audits, reporting, inventories and adaptive management.
  • We have also added information about responding to Climate Change. Sustainably managed forests are resilient to the impacts of climate change, while playing a vital role in capturing and storing carbon dioxide.  Consistent with the principle of adaptive management, Ontario will continue to advance and make available forest research on the impacts of a changing climate on future forest growth, wildland fire, and carbon.
  • The FSS includes a new action item – a commitment to develop a Forest Biomass Action Plan that supports economic development through the use of mill by-product and forest biofibre, assisting to secure jobs and encourage sustainability in the forestry sector.
  • The FSS now has references related to Aboriginal Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and more information about opportunities for Indigenous engagement.

There were mixed responses to the draft FSS. These responses have been categorized and addressed in five themes, a detailed breakdown is provided below:

  1. Regulations

Many comments were received about removing policy barriers and regulatory burden.  Those that supported indicated a need to remove policy barriers, streamline process, and find a permanent solution to address how species at risk will be considered in forest management planning. Those opposing suggested that streamlining and removing barriers would lessen environmental safeguards and oversight.

Response:

The FSS is an over-arching strategic document that provides goals and proposed actions.  Though one of the stated goals in the FSS is to make changes in regulations, and remove policy barriers and regulatory burden, any such changes would be undertaken through processes separate from the FSS

  1. Natural Forests / Biodiversity / Wildlife Habitat / Climate Change

Concerns that increasing harvest would reduce natural forests, decrease biodiversity, cause loss of wildlife habitat, and exacerbate climate change.  Conversely, many comments indicated that Ontario has a world class forest management system, and forest management plans ensure forest health and sustainability.

Response:

Significant information has been added to the FSS about Ontario’s forest policy framework and how forest management plans ensure sustainability while finding a balance of social, economic and environmental values. Ontario’s forest management planning system will continue to provide transparency, and adapt to changes in legislation, policy to support the social, economic and environmental values of the people of Ontario.

Additional information has been added to address climate change considerations. Adaptive management practices will continue to enable productive and resilient forests into the future. As committed in the Made-In-Ontario Environment Plan, Ontario will also work to improve data and information on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon storage from forests and the changing landscape.

  1. Innovation / Education / Private Lands

Comments concerning innovation and education included support for: developing new markets, fostering innovation, addressing labour shortage, expanding education/training programs, and supporting the Canadian Wood Council, Ontario Wood Works, the Ontario Woodlot Association, and Forests Ontario. Comments received regarding private lands included the need to expand harvest and active silviculture elements of Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program.

Response:

We have added information to the FSS about measures to enhance innovation and new technologies and support educational opportunities. The FSS also indicates that training opportunities for Indigenous youth is important for the sector’s future. The province also supports the delivery of a suite of employment and skills training programs and services through Employment Ontario.

The FSS also commits to encouraging afforestation and responsible timber production on private lands that are not productive for agriculture.

  1. Roads

There were several comments suggesting that roads funding should be increased, and/or extended to municipal roads where forestry vehicles travel. Some respondents expressed concern that there are too many roads, and that they cause fragmentation and wildlife habitat reduction.

Response:

The FSS is an over-arching strategic document that provides goals and proposed actions. Ontario will continue to address road planning, through its sustainable forest management planning processes and practices.

  1. Consultation

Concern was expressed about the timing and length of the comment period for the proposal.

Response:

In addition to the registry posting with a 63 day comment period, the ministry held ten regional engagement sessions with First Nation and Métis communities; and six sessions with municipalities in January 2020. Consideration of comments was not limited to those received during the comment period.

Supporting materials

Connect with us

Contact

Joe Maure

Phone number
Office
Forest Sector Strategy - Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Address

70 Foster Drive, Suite 610
Sault Ste Marie , ON
P6A 6V5
Canada

Office phone number

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-0880
Notice type
Policy
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Proposal posted

Comment period

December 4, 2019 - February 5, 2020 (63 days)

Proposal details

The draft strategy will support existing businesses and help create more opportunities and prosperity in northern and rural Ontario while ensuring high standards of sustainable forest management.

In developing the strategy, we listened to Indigenous, municipal and industry leaders, entrepreneurs and people from communities across Ontario who shared their ideas on the development of the strategy.

Input received helped identify four pillars for the draft strategy, including:

(1) Promoting stewardship and sustainability

  • enhancing recognition of Ontario’s sustainable forest management system
  • conducting applied research and best science to support forest management planning teams
  • developing and strengthening Indigenous partnerships
  • protecting values and respecting Indigenous rights

(2) Putting more wood to work

  • reducing regulatory burdens for industry to access wood
  • increasing forest growth and use of available wood supply
  • investing in newer technologies to improve the quality of the inventory information
  • providing wood supply certainty

(3) Improving our cost competitiveness

  • maximizing the use of mill by-products
  • making strategic investments in Forest Access Roads
  • reviewing energy costs
  • modernizing forest management approval processes and reducing duplications

(4) Fostering innovation, markets and talent

  • growing the talent in the sector with educational and training programs
  • enabling small and medium-sized businesses to access growing global export markets
  • increasing use of Ontario wood in construction and heating
  • launching the Forest Sector Investment and Innovation Program

The volume of timber harvested today is less than 60% of what it was in 2000 – there is about 15 million m³ of available wood supply which could support further investment in the forest sector and allow Ontario to capitalize on future markets without impact the sustainability of our forests.

A strong forest sector is essential to creating prosperity for the province, especially for people in rural and northern Ontario. We are taking steps to reduce barriers that prevent businesses from taking full advantage of the tremendous potential of Ontario’s forest sector while ensuring high standards of sustainable forest management. A provincial forest sector strategy will help protect existing jobs and create new ones, helping industry innovate and attract new investment and securing a future for the communities and families who depend on the industry.

Public consultation opportunities

From November 2018 to May 2019, the government held seven round-table sessions across the province to gather insight from industry, municipal and Indigenous leaders. Feedback from the public and stakeholders was also collected through an online survey and via mail/email.

Industry has been engaged throughout the development of the strategy to ensure the current gaps and issues in the sector were considered and addressed. In August 2019, two meetings were held with industry stakeholders. A draft document was provided to industry representatives for feedback, which has been incorporated.

Our stakeholder outreach strategy includes email and letters sent to municipalities, First Nations, industry leaders, including businesses with innovative uses for wood products.

We are committed to consulting on the draft strategy and on specific initiatives as appropriate. In addition to making the draft strategy open for comments, the Ministry will consult and engage with First Nations and Metis communities on key elements of the strategy. Further consultations with community leaders and industry will be held.

For more information or to view related documents regarding the Ontario Forest Sector Strategy please contact the offices posted below for assistance.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Forest Sector Strategy - Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Address

70 Foster Drive, Suite 610
Sault Ste Marie , ON
P6A 6V5
Canada

Office phone number

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from December 4, 2019
to February 5, 2020

Connect with us

Contact

Joe Maure

Phone number
Office
Forest Sector Strategy - Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Address

70 Foster Drive, Suite 610
Sault Ste Marie , ON
P6A 6V5
Canada

Office phone number