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Canadian National Forest Strategy


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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Principles

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 progress.

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.

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