Proposed changes to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994

ERO number
Notice type
Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994
Posted by
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Notice stage
Proposal Updated
Proposal posted
Comment period
December 20, 2019 - January 20, 2020 (31 days) Closed
Last updated

Update Announcement

This notice was updated on November 6, 2020 to inform the public that proposed amendments to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994, received First Reading on November 5, 2020 in the Ontario Legislature. Find out more about the proposed legislative changes and how to participate in the legislative process please find the links added to the "related links" section below.

November 13, 2020

This consultation was open from:

December 20, 2019
to January 20, 2020

Proposal summary

We are proposing changes to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994 to provide certainty for northern, rural and Indigenous communities, while ensuring the continued sustainable management of Ontario’s forests and conservation of the province’s biodiversity.

Proposal details

Ontario’s globally recognized sustainable forest management system is a foundation of the province’s forest sector.

The Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA) forest management framework

The CFSA provides for the sustainable management of Crown forests in a manner that must have regard for plant life, animal life, water, soil, air and social and economic values.

The CFSA forest management framework seeks to minimize adverse effects on ecological, economic and social values and conserve biodiversity, this includes minimizing adverse effects on species at risk.

It is a robust system for managing Crown forests founded on an adaptive management approach to plan, implement, monitor and re-plan based on performance and the evaluation of new information, science, and traditional knowledge.

The existing forest management framework includes several forest manuals (including the Forest Management Planning Manual), and forest management guides. Approved forest management guides must be followed when developing and implementing forest management plans.

Forest management guides direct the amount and arrangement of different types and ages of forest on the landscape to help forest managers balance habitat for all life forms (wildlife, birds, fish, plants) including species at risk. They also direct modifying forest operations to retain special features like decaying trees, protect sensitive habitats like bird nests, lakes, streams and wetlands, and ensure the conservation of water and soil resources.

An example of this is the Cerulean warbler where the forest management guides provide for general habitat, suitable breeding habitat and minimize disturbance during the breeding period.

The forest management framework is designed to provide timely and effective direction for species at risk by ensuring:

  • direction in forest management guides for species at risk will continue to be based on the latest relevant science, consideration of evidence and expert advice, and not cause undue hardship on businesses and affected communities
  • we continue to investigate alternatives that achieve desired outcomes for species at risk while providing a range of management options (e.g., consider species at risk population dynamics, amount and arrangement of high-quality habitat, ecological variation)
  • species at risk direction is incorporated into existing forest management guides as appropriate through the normal review process
  • the Forest Management Planning Manual continues to enable changes to forest management plans to incorporate new species at risk-related science or information

Summary of proposed changes

The Ministry is proposing a long-term approach that would no longer require duplicative authorizations or a regulatory exemption under the ESA for forest operations conducted in Crown forests in accordance with an approved forest management plan under the CFSA.  The approach would:

  • continue to provide protection for species at risk and their habitat
  • manage forests sustainably so they remain healthy and provide benefits today and for future generations
  • remove unnecessary regulatory duplication and ensure efficient approval processes for forest operations
  • move to a one-window approvals system for forestry under the CFSA forest management framework, including forest manuals and guides
  • provide more certainty to the forest industry and communities that benefit from it

Activities that are not related to forest operations approved under a forest management plan (e.g., tree clearing for electrical transmission lines) and are unable to avoid impacts to species at risk or their habitat would require an authorization under the ESA.

The existing forest management framework requires consultation on species at risk-related considerations over a long-term planning horizon (e.g., ten-year forest management plan) and annually (e.g., in the development of annual work schedules). These consultation requirements related to operations that could affect species at risk would continue under the proposed new approach.

If this proposal proceeds it could be implemented through legislative and/or regulatory amendments to the CFSA and its regulations.

Other information

Forest operations on Crown land conducted in accordance with a forest management plan approved under the CFSA and conditions set out in Ontario Regulation 242/08 under the ESA are currently exempt from the ESA’s prohibitions, and from requiring authorizations under that Act.

This exemption will cease to apply to forest operations on July 1, 2020.  At that time forest operations on Crown land that would have a prohibited impact to a species listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA, or its habitat, would require authorization under the ESA that overlaps with and in some cases duplicates the requirements under the CFSA.

Public consultation opportunities

To date initial feedback heard through:

  • 10th Year Review of Ontario’s Endangered Species Act: Discussion Paper January to March 2019
  • Forest Sector Strategy round tables November 2018 to May 2019

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 January 20, 2020

Connect with us


Troy Anthony

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

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

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