Proposed revisions to Ontario’s Independent Forest Audit Regulation under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act

ERO number
Notice type
Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Proposal posted
Comment period
December 20, 2019 - February 18, 2020 (60 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

December 20, 2019
to February 18, 2020

Proposal summary

We are proposing amendments to Ontario’s Independent Forest Audit (IFA) Regulation to improve transparency, reduce burdens for industry and make government smarter, while ensuring Ontario’s Crown forests continue to be managed sustainably.

Proposal details

Ontario’s forest industry generates over $16 billion in revenue and supports approximately 155,000 direct and indirect jobs in communities across the province. Our wood and wood products are globally recognized as coming from forests that are responsibly and sustainably managed. We are also recognized as innovators and leaders in the global industry. And yet Ontario’s forest sector has not been able to reach its full potential.

On December 4, 2019, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry released a draft Forest Sector Strategy that aims to stimulate job creation, promote economic growth, and reduce unnecessary burden and costs for businesses, all while ensuring Ontario’s forests continue to be managed sustainably.

The plan to create a provincial strategy for the forest sector was announced in September 2018. Since that time, the ministry has heard from Indigenous partners, industry and municipal leaders through seven roundtables across the province. Input was also received from the public through survey and email submissions.

Based on feedback, four main areas of focus were identified to shape the draft strategy: promoting stewardship and sustainability; putting more wood to work; improving our cost competitiveness; fostering innovation, markets and talent.

The Ministry is proposing changes to Ontario Regulation 160/04, Independent Forest Audits to provide flexibility for selecting and scheduling management units (MU) for audit.

Administrative changes are also proposed to better reflect the current policy framework for the IFA program, and to improve transparency by replacing the requirement to table audit reports in the legislature with the requirement to make final audit reports available to the public on a publicly accessible website.

Our goal is to reduce total program costs and workload for the forest industry and streamline program delivery by government, while maintaining the effectiveness of the program to ensure that Ontario’s Crown forests are managed in accordance with the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA). The proposal would provide for an audit to be carried out in each MU at least once every 10 years.

The proposal would also allow the Minister to extend the 10-year audit period for a MU in order to achieve any of a range of objectives, including, but not limited to supporting:

  • preparation, implementation, renewal, or extension of forest management plans, or the development of a contingency plan, and other related forest management needs
  • decisions regarding the designation, amalgamation or division of MUs
  • decisions regarding the issuance, amendment, or transfer of a forest resource license, and the review of licensee compliance
  • balancing the number of audits to be carried out annually in particular areas of the Crown forest

In the course of determining whether the audit period for a particular MU should be extended, the Minister would be required to consider a range of factors, including:

  • timeliness of the audit to support the objectives described above
  • length of time since the previous audit
  • the results of previous IFAs related to the MU
  • the status of actions responding to recommendations or findings in a previous IFA on the MU

Although changes could involve reducing the frequency of IFAs and/or modifying the audit scope, they would not significantly change the process for conducting an IFA on a MU once selected. Changes are intended to come into effect for the 2021 IFA program.

For more information on IFAs, please see the related external links section below.

Public consultation opportunities

This proposal has been posted for a 60-day public review and comment period starting December 20, 2019.

Regulatory impact statement

The anticipated environmental consequences of the proposal are neutral. The IFA program will continue to provide assurance that Ontario’s Crown forests are being managed sustainably.

The anticipated social consequences of the proposal are positive. Stakeholders, First Nations and Métis communities, and the public will continue to have opportunity to participate and provide input to IFAs and will benefit from timely public reporting.

The anticipated economic consequences of the proposal are positive. IFA efficiencies will promote greater (forest industry and MNRF) productivity and resource efficiency for the implementation of the IFA program.

No new administrative costs are associated as a result of this proposal.

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.

Crown Forests and Lands Policy Branch, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

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


Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from December 20, 2019
to February 18, 2020

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Nick Baggs, Senior Policy Advisor

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Email address
Crown Forests and Lands Policy Branch

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

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