Canada has become a world leader in many fields of
forest science and technology (S&T). Science is a fundamental part of efforts to
achieve sustainable forest management, which deals with forest resources as well as their
harvesting and processing. Forest management across the country is becoming increasingly
complex, and information demands are multiplying. Concerns traditionally related to timber
yield and economic benefits have expanded to include a host of non-timber objectives, from
preserving natural habitats and recreational values to meeting the distinctive needs of
forest-based communities and cultures. At the same time, forest products markets are
undergoing major changes. New competitors and sources of low-cost timber supply are
placing strong pressures on Canada's wood and paper industries to maintain their
Many commitments in the other
eight strategic directions outline the need for greater scientific knowledge and
technological innovation in the forest sector. In particular, we must increase our
understanding of the impacts of human and natural disturbances on forest ecosystems,
develop appropriate forest management tools and techniques, and enhance the forest
sector's international competitiveness. The present strategic direction deals with
concerns about the management of forest sector science and technology on a national basis.
Within Canada, many organizations and agencies are involved in
forest S&T. The federal government assures research services in forest research,
wildlife, hydrology, fisheries and remote sensing, among others. Several provincial
governments carry out research programs related to operational forest management. Academic
research also plays an important role. There are forestry faculties in seven Canadian
universities, and many other Canadian colleges and universities contribute to
forest-related S&T from such fields as engineering, biology, chemistry, mathematics,
computer sciences, physics and the social sciences.
Canada's industrial forest research institutes conduct research
and development in forest engineering, wood product development, and pulp and paper
technology. Funding is shared by the federal and provincial governments and the
industries. Some of Canada's larger forest companies also conduct applied research and
development, usually in cooperation with federal, provincial and academic institutes. Two
national initiatives of note for their role in forest S&T are the Sustainable Forest
Management Network of Centers of Excellence and the Canadian Model Forest Network. These
networks are pioneering new approaches to partnerships among resource agencies,
researchers, communities, the public and interest groups.
researchers are changing the way in which forest S&T is carried out by placing more
reliance on partnerships and networks. Structuring research in this way enables experts
from diverse disciplines to focus on complex problems and supports the development of more
integrated techniques and approaches to resource management. This process brings in
various disciplines in the natural and social sciences, as well as traditional knowledge.
The importance of collaboration in forest sector S&T is
growing and is increasingly recognized as a future challenge. Canadian research
organizations must combine their expertise and resources to look at a wider spectrum of
issues associated with sustainable development -- those of the forest itself, the
forest-based industries and the communities that depend on the forest. Canada must also
expand its international S&T linkages, both to respond to global forest issues and to
exchange new scientific knowledge and technologies.
Research aimed at meeting these challenges must be coordinated.
Fiscal realities have hampered the ability of individual organizations to meet all their
S&T needs, and the complexity of the issues adds to their difficulties in this
respect. To increase the effectiveness of each group's efforts, Canada must adopt a
national, coordinated approach to forest sector S&T, linking research on ecological
processes, forest management, and new product and processing technology. We must align our
research capacity with identified priorities in these areas, and ensure an appropriate
balance of funding. Success will depend in large part on embracing a philosophy of
partnerships and teamwork.
The forest S&T community came together in June 1997 under the
sponsorship of Canadian Council of Forest Ministers to start crafting a common national
course of action for forest S&T. This course of action will help the Canadian forest
community to meet the challenge of sustainable forest management. It must ultimately
ensure that the S&T community shares the vision and goals of Canadian at large as
expressed in the National Forest Strategy.
The bringing together of the Canadian forest sector S&T
community has made clear the need for a mechanism to foster ongoing cooperation and to
evaluate progress in implementing the course of action. The parties have agreed to work on
establishing such a mechanism to ensure continuing dialogue and collaboration among
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Achievement of the goals stated in Canada's National Forest
Strategy requires a concerted and continuing commitment to forest S&T including
long-term, stable funding by all partners.
Strong linkages between researchers and practitioners are
essential in order to ensure the relevance and application of the results of forest
The results of forest research must be communicated and
applied quickly and effectively.
Canada's progress in sustainable forest management requires integrated approaches and multidisciplinary research partnerships and networks,
incorporating the natural and social sciences and traditional knowledge.
The development of effective forest sector policy and
regulations must be based on the best available scientific knowledge.
Framework for Action
We will respond to the knowledge and S&T needs of Canada's
5.1 By establishing a national forest
S&T course of action to meet the commitments outlined in the National Forest Strategy
and to engage the forest sector S&T community in collaborations to increase the efficiency of science expenditure.
5.2 By establishing and periodically
reviewing Canada's national forest sector S&T priorities.
5.3 By establishing a mechanism to
foster cooperation and facilitate communication among Canadian forest S&T
organizations, to champion investments in forest sector S&T and to evaluate progress
on the national forest S&T course of action.
5.4 By tracking and reporting
periodically on the level and allocation of Canada's investment in forest sector S&T
in relation to forest economic activity, as well as in comparison to other sectors and
5.5 By promoting interdisciplinary
collaboration in research and facilitating local, national and international liaisons.