Forest issues are
high on the international agenda, and their resolution remains a major challenge because
of their magnitude and complexity. The size and ecological importance of Canada's forests
have led us to recognize that they must be managed to reflect the range of local, national
and global values -- a task requiring much effort on the part of Canada's forest community
as it seeks to balance sometimes conflicting priorities. At the same time, sound forest
management in other countries means that Canadians accrue benefits through the
conservation of genetic resources, enriched biological diversity, carbon sequestration,
improved environmental stability and enhanced national security and well-being.
The importance to Canada of its forests from environmental,
economic, social, cultural and international perspectives places sustainable forest
management high on Canada's foreign policy agenda. It also affirms the need to ensure
there is a clear understanding of the Canadian context when issues are discussed in the
Since forests are essential for human life and well-being, the
continuation of unsustainable forest practices worldwide has implications, among other
things, for traditional lifestyles of those who depend on forests for their survival; the
habitat of migratory birds; the protection of species against extinction; the conservation
and sustainable use of biological diversity; and climate change.
The forest industry is important in every region of Canada and is
a mainstay in 337 communities. One of every 17 jobs in Canada is tied to the forest
sector. Among exports, forest products represent the largest net proportion of the
country's merchandise trade and account for 19 percent of the world's forest products
exports. In addition, Canada's forests are increasingly managed for values other than
timber. With this as a backdrop, improving sustainable forest management, both
domestically and internationally, is fundamental to promoting Canada's interests.
International solutions that fail to take these factors into account will impose
unnecessary costs on Canadians and the world.
Much has been accomplished internationally, as illustrated in the
- One of the main outcomes of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was the
non-legally- binding forest principles which Canada was instrumental in negotiating. Other
outcomes included the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Framework
Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The latter was the object in 1997 of the Kyoto
Protocol to the FCCC.
- Canada is a participant in the Timber Working Group of the Convention
on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- Canada also led the way to an international process to develop and
implement national-level criteria and indicators (C&I) for sustainable forest
management, introduced C&I at the 1992 Earth Summit and elaborated the concept
resulting in the Montreal Process on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and
Sustainable Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests (the Montreal Process).
- In 1997, the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) within the
United Nations submitted a final report to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)
that contained more than 140 proposals for action. World leaders attending the Special
Session of the United Nations General Assembly launched the Intergovernmental Forum on
Forests (IFF) as follow-up mechanism. The IFF will report to the CSD in the year 2000.
Although progress is being made both on global forest policy and on actual forest management practices, many matters critical to Canada are not yet resolved. Perhaps most important
is the development of a common definition of sustainable forest management for all types
of forests and all forest values. As Canada is the world's largest exporter of forest
products, customers, retailers and other countries scrutinize our forest policies and
practices. Therefore, we will strive to help foreign consumers of Canadian forest products
make informed assessments of them. Canada will also continue to pursue a common
inter-national understanding of what constitutes sustainable forest management, through
the various frameworks of criteria and indicator frameworks being implemented at national
and sub-national levels.
Despite efforts to improve sustainable forest management
worldwide, deforestation continues at an alarming rate in the absence of international
agreements or coordination, or a common global agenda for action. A growing number of
developed and developing countries are joining Canada in recognizing the need for a
coherent framework for establishing and coordinating international obligations that affect
the management of all types of forests. In Canada's view, a dedicated international
convention or agreement on forests would provide a comprehensive and coherent framework of
forest-related commitments, sanctioned at the highest political levels.
Many of the most pressing and complex forest problems occur in
developing countries and are not related to trade. Globally, the bulk of wood products is
produced and consumed domestically. The use of forests for fuelwood accounts for more than
half the world's annual harvest and 80 percent of the timber production of developing
nations. In tropical countries, deforestation is mainly caused by factors such as large
economic development programs and the conversion of forests to agriculture. An important
obstacle to progress is a lack of capacity to deal with these issues. For more than 30
years, Canada has helped enhance forest management in developing countries and continues
to provide significant international assistance for forestry projects. Many
non-governmental organizations in Canada make substantial contributions.
Canada's daunting but essential task before the year 2000 is to
work with other nations through the IFF to implement the recommendations of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. Canada will also continue to build global consensus on
further actions that are necessary to improve sustainable forest management worldwide,
notably on launching negotiations for an international legally binding agreement on
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Maintaining the health of Canada's forest ecosystems will
ensure their continued contributions to the health of the earth's environment.
Maintaining a prosperous and diversified forest-based economy
contributes to Canada's capacity to conserve its forest ecosystems and maintain high
Progress toward sustainable forest management in Canada
requires the continued integration of forest ecosystem needs with the interests of
forest-based communities, as well as with the concerns of domestic and international
forest product markets.
Cooperation among nations is essential to enhance the capacity
of countries to maintain, improve and rehabilitate the health of the world's forests.
Canada has a responsibility to assist and work cooperatively
with other nations in the sustainable management of forests.
Respect for international obligations is necessary for
achieving sustainable forest management.
Framework for Action
We will maintain, enhance and demonstrate the contribution that
forest ecosystems make to the health of the planet:
9.1 By continuing to inform the
international forest community of actions taken to maintain and enhance the contribution
that Canada's forest ecosystems make to the health of the planet, through, for example,
the circulation of reports and participation in international meetings and missions, both
to and from Canada.
9.2 By increasing Canadian understanding
of and support for the contribution that Canada's forest ecosystems make to the health of
the global environment, through timely dissemination of information and analysis reports.
9.3 By cooperating with countries and
with regional and international organizations on research and forest policy development
through initiatives such as the International Model Forest Network and bilateral memoranda
We will work toward meeting Canada's commitments arising from the
Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Convention on Climate Change:
9.4 By fulfilling Canada's forest carbon
9.5 By ensuring that the unique
characteristics and contributions of Canada's forests are taken into account during
international negotiations on climate change.
9.6 By identifying and implementing
cost-effective options for forest sector carbon sequestering and emission reductions to
help meet Canada's targets.
We will seek concrete, effective results in international efforts
to improve the management of world's forest ecosystems, through cooperation among nations
and enhancement of the international legal regime for forests:
9.7 By adhering to relevant international
intergovernmental agreements, notably the conventions on climate change, biodiversity,
desertification and trade in endangered species.
9.8 By implementing the proposals for
action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and by reporting progress made to
the U.N. Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF).
9.9 By pursuing the initiation of
negotiations of an international forest convention.
9.10 By pursuing an international
consensus on a definition of sustainable forest management through such means as the
various national frameworks of criteria and indicators.
9.11 By creating awareness in relevant
international organizations and fora of the potentially mutually supportive relationships
among sustainable forest management, trade and voluntary certification schemes.
We will assist other nations to improve their capacity to
sustainably manage their forests:
9.12 By building partnerships with other
countries and international organizations to share experiences and knowledge.
By working with other nations and international organizations to respond to
requests for international aid and by improving the flow of financial, policy, scientific,
technical, technological and information support to developing countries and countries
with economies in transition.
9.14 By supporting innovative approaches
to achieve sustainable forest management worldwide, as well as by sharing and applying the
knowledge and experience gained.
9.15 By supporting groups that value
forests and activities that strengthen the capacity of communities to participate in
decision-making related to sustainable forest management.