PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: Many Voices
Canada's forest sector
has experienced profound change in recent decades, as Canadians play a larger role in
managing forests. In most provinces, industry has taken on responsibilities for managing
Crown forest lands under licences issued by governments. The Canadian public, who has a
vital interest in the way our forests are managed, has an ever more important voice in
expressing environmental, economic, social and cultural goals for the forests. As public
values change over time, forest planning must be responsive to new perspec-tives -- to
ensure that management activities continue to reflect those values.
The ultimate responsibility for management of public forests
rests with elected governments. Yet all jurisdictions recognize the need for more direct
public input. The key to maintaining effective public participation is the development of
better models for public input, with processes and mechanisms that are clearly defined,
fair and open, with deadlines for decisions and with a review of results that will ensure
the accountability of those responsible for the welfare of forests. Ways must be found to
provide a two-way flow of information and to incorporate traditional and local knowledge
into management planning. Canadians are successfully developing innovative ways to
encourage and incorporate grass-roots
public participation into the planning and implementation of forest management goals and
strategies. They are exploring mechanisms to encourage agencies with overlapping or
similar interests to cooperate in resource management.
In accepting a role in forest management, the public assumes
responsibility and seeks to be knowledgeable and informed. This means accurate and timely
information on forest resources must be made accessible and easy to understand. For their
part, forest managers must not only be responsive to public requests for information to
facilitate more effective participation, but also strive to understand the public's views
and incorporate them into the planning process. Increasing the awareness and knowledge of
everyone with an interest in the forest will encourage informed discussion in an
atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
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Public participation in forest policy and planning processes
is essential, and carries with it obligations and responsibilities for all involved.
Effective public participation in forest management and
planning requires an open, fair and well-defined process, with generally accepted
procedures and timely deadlines for decisions.
Effective public participation requires current information
from a variety of sources, including publicly funded forest resource databases.
Framework for Action
We will heighten public awareness and knowledge of forests:
3.1 By encouraging and supporting
programs or projects aimed at giving students a greater understanding of forests and
forest management during the course of primary, secondary and post-secondary education.
3.2 By increasing opportunities for
outdoor, hands-on, forest education programs for the public, particularly young people, in
each province and territory.
3.3 By increasing forest and mill tours
that give the public a greater exposure to and appreciation of forests, forest management
and forest products.
3.4 By facilitating networking among
education specialists in governments, industry and non-government organizations, to
coordinate efforts and minimize duplication in providing the public with comprehensive and
balanced educational programs on Canada's forests.
3.5 By implementing programs to improve
the general public's understanding of Aboriginal forest management values, issues and
3.6 By cultivating contacts and
developing relationships with the media to provide the public with the latest information
on sustainable forest management.
3.7 By maximizing the profile of National
Forest Week and other national or provincial initiatives, as vehicles to sensitize the
public to the economic, environmental, social and cultural values that forests provide.
We will improve access to and provision of information on forests
that meets the needs of the public:
3.8 By ensuring that timely results of
formal reviews of tenure agreements for timber harvesting on public forest lands are made
available to the public.
3.9 By harmonizing databases on various
forest values to implement the CCFM framework of national criteria and indicators.
3.10 By continuing to develop and refine
the system of national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management, and
reporting on progress by the year 2000. Governments will regularly report on the state of
our forests using valid indicators.
3.11 By increasing public access to
professional expertise, to provide awareness and insight about forests.
We will ensure that the views of the public are considered in
forest management planning and decision-making processes:
3.12 By developing and improving
effective public communication and participation models.
3.13 By using processes for open,
transparent and well-defined public participation which contribute to land use planning
and allocation, developing and reviewing forest policies and strategies, and resolving
conflicts among interested parties.
3.14 By consulting with public and
private agencies to review and, where appropriate, revise strategic forest policies to
ensure they continue to meet the requirements of sustainable forest management.
3.15 By ensuring that publicly funded
forest resource databases provide for fully informed public participation processes.