On August 20, 2020 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry released Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy, the province’s plan “to create jobs and encourage economic growth in the forest industry”. According to the related press release, “The strategy will support the Indigenous, northern and rural communities that depend on the sector, while ensuring the province’s forests stay healthy for generations to come. ”
July 2020: Changes to Provincial Environmental Legislation – FOCA has noted that major changes to environmental oversight are underway, with the July 8th introduction of the omnibus Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020. This Bill affects 43 different pieces of Provincial Legislation. Notable throughout the Bill is an increase in the discretion of the provincial Cabinet to, for instance, prescribe which projects are subject to the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA). FOCA believes that all environmentally significant undertakings should be reviewed through an appropriate and efficient EA process that is open, fair, and evidence-based. Further proposals to change the Planning Act would give Ministerial discretion to issue zoning orders, and to overrule decisions by municipal council and planning staff, even to the extent of a specific project and site details. At July 15, Bill 197 is at Second Reading in the Legislature.
This latest Bill follows the July 1 exemption of forestry from the EAA. The list of “duplicative” activities that the July 1 changes affect include:
- public consultation in the preparation of a Forest Management Plan
- planning of forestry access roads
- review and approval of Forest Management Planning documents
- amending Forest Management Plans
- requirements for annual operations
FOCA notes that the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (“CFSA”) already doesn’t address, for example, the human health effects of clear-cut logging practices, which has been shown to release mercury to timber area watersheds, contaminate fish, and harm humans eating the fish.
Forestry: What FOCA sees…
44% of Ontario’s Crown forests are managed forests, and subject to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994. The purposes of this Act are “to provide for the sustainability of Crown forests and, in accordance with that objective, to manage Crown forests to meet social, economic and environmental needs of present and future generations.”
For your local area, you are encouraged to visit the Find a Forest Plan website, which includes all the approved and draft forest management plans (FMPs), approved annual work schedules in the province, and high resolution maps of operational areas.
Useful tips on navigating the eFMP (electronic forest management plan website) – courtesy of FOCA member LOWDSA and MNRF (Kenora District) – are available here: https://www.lowdsa.com/articles/forest-management-planning-process.
Interested in more information about forest management planning, and how to get involved? Download this brochure: Help Shape the Future of our Forests (PDF, 12 pages).
Why are forests important to waterfront property owners, and all Ontarians? Find out more on the ItTakesAForest website, an initiative of Forests Ontario.
Forest management plans
Forestry activities include harvesting trees, building access roads and bridges, and replanting. Before any forestry activities can take place, a forest management plan must be in place. Ontario’s Crown forests are divided into 41 management units and cover many cottage communities.
See a current list of forest management units, including a map (on page 3)
As important stakeholders, waterfront residents and lake associations should understand the scope and context and timing for the forestry work that is planned for your cottage area. By providing your considerable local knowledge and perspective, associations and interested individuals can help make these plans better, and ensure that considerations important to local residents get reflected in these plans.
Forest Management Planning also has a formal role for a “Local Citizens Committee” (or LCC). The core responsibility of an LCC is to provide advice during the development and implementation of the local forest management plan.
See this backgrounder on LCC’s, from the Nipissing Forest Local Citizens Committee.
Lake Associations in Action!
The Jack Lake Association, a FOCA member group located near Apsley, contributed significantly towards improving their local forestry plan.
Learn more from their web posting: Logging Update 2015. (PDF 2 pages)
Congratulations JLA, for your diligent and meaningful input to the plans being developed by the Bancroft Minden Forest Company!