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World's Boreal Forests:

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Canadian National Forest Strategy


COMMUNITIES AND THE WORKFORCE: Living with Change

Changes are taking place in our understanding of the complexities of the forest environment, and the forest community must make use of a wide range of skills and knowledge in making forest management decisions. Elected officials of forest-based communities must be involved in national initiatives which may directly affect them. As well, members of the community must participate in consultative processes to further local community involvement in, and understanding of, forest management practices.

The Canadian workforce involved in the forest sector is one of the most experienced and highly skilled in the world. Skills include forest resource management, research, engineering, production and marketing of forest products, and non-timber products and services.

Rapid developments in technology and heightened competition are reducing the demand for some traditional skills. This situation has led to a decline in the need for traditional forest-related jobs, which in turn has affected the stability of some of the workforce and communities. However, opportunities for supplying other forest products and in technology development are increasing. As new technology appears, a gap -- or perceived gap -- is created between the traditional skills and those required for the new applications. There is a need to identify potential gaps in technological knowledge and skills of the workforce, to retrain workers displaced by the new technology and to provide the next generation with the required skills. It is also important to transfer the knowledge, skills and experience of the older workforce, so that they are not lost in the transition.

Young people in the community are particularly important. They carry a unique perspective on our environment, and are the next generation of resource managers. Programs and opportunities to attract the younger generation to remain in and contribute to their community are essential to the community's health and stability.

The workforce consists not only of forest industry workers, but also of members of the community who have a vested interest in sustainable forest management and community stability. A well- educated, skilled, adaptable and injury-free workforce contributes to stable communities that are essential if Canada is to supply high-quality goods and services in a demanding and competitive world market.

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Principles

A prosperous and diversified economy based on sustainable forests contributes significantly to the social, spiritual and cultural well-being of various groups within Canadian society, and enhances our capacity to conserve resources and maintain high standards of environmental quality for the benefit of current and future generations.

Forest-based communities, whether fully or partly dependent on the forest industry, have a vital stake in the continuing flow of economic, environmental and social benefits arising from management of the forest. They must be recognized as key stakeholders and must participate fully in discussions about resource management issues that affect them.

Assessing all socio-economic contributions of Canada's forests requires consideration of the full range of uses, and an understanding of the natural, economic and social impacts of the interrelationships between residents of forest-based communities and their surrounding forest ecosystem.

Sustainable forest management and forest sector competitiveness demand a broad and continually evolving range of skills from diverse disciplines, and depend on a stable workforce that is well-educated, informed, trained and diverse. Training and education are necessary for community stability and depend on long-term funding and resources.

Continuing education, training and the resources to meet these needs are essential to maintaining a skilled workforce and are the shared responsibility of employees, employers, governments, labour and educational institutions.

Health, safety and job satisfaction in the workplace are priorities in Canada's forest sector.

Framework for Action

We will support and improve the capabilities of forest-dependent communities to develop and diversify their economies where economically viable, or undergo orderly transitions if the community is in decline:

6.1 By undertaking socio-economic impact assessments of policy alternatives to understand the long- term needs of forest-based communities, including cultural and subsistence uses, for economic development and sustainable resource management planning.

6.2 By supporting the economic development and diversification of forest-based communities through development of economic development plans and valued-added strategies.

6.3 By developing and implementing mechanisms that empower communities to adapt and adjust to changing socio-economic circumstances.

We will enable the forest and forest-related workforce to contribute fully to and benefit from sustainable forest management and enhanced social, economic and environmental opportunities:

6.4 By preparing forecasts of workforce requirements, and training and retraining needs, in the forest sector. These forecasts should include workforce profiles reflecting new opportunities, research and safety in the forest sector.

6.5 By increasing the number of educators delivering forest programs, by upgrading the information and materials on sustainable forest management provided to educators, and by reviewing ways to retain or enhance resources to support the programs.

6.6 By creating, refocusing and delivering education, training and development programs that meet local needs and opportunities for work.

6.7 By reviewing, and revising as appropriate, university, college, continuing education and training programs and courses to:

  • meet the broader needs of sustainable forest management;
  • adapt to the changing workforce structure;
  • contribute to the leading edge of forestry research, policy thinking and practices;
  • include Aboriginal forest issues; and
  • focus on interdisciplinary work across academic sectors, enabling collaboration between sectors, to increase understanding of economic, social and environmental issues of forestry and forest-based communities.

6.8 By forming a network for advanced continuing education that will upgrade skills of forest workers, technicians, sector professionals and educators in each province and territory, and that will help transfer the knowledge and expertise of the present workforce.

6.9 By reviewing barriers to labour mobility within the workforce and reporting to appropriate agencies on methods to reduce those barriers.

6.10 By developing and delivering basic educational programs to forest workers in areas such as health and safety, equipment operation and maintenance, and sustainable forest management practices.

6.11 By implementing forest worker accreditation to increase mobility, health and safety, and skills.

6.12 By providing opportunities such as co-op and apprenticeship programs, to improve skill sets leading to greater opportunities for employment and business contracting among Aboriginal people, private landowners, local people and youths.

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