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Ulf T. Runesson

Faculty of Natural
Resources Management,
Lakehead University

955 Oliver Road,
Thunder Bay, Ontario,
Canada P7B 5E1

     (807) 343-8784

     (807) 346-7769


Legislation governing Ontario's forests, natural resources and public land use has seen huge changes over the last ten years. The law most directly relevant to forests is the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, enacted in 1994. This replaced the seven-decade-old Crown Timber Act, legislation mainly directed at the orderly harvesting of Ontario's forests and updated by a patchwork of revisions.

The Crown Forest Sustainability Act is different in that it has a comprehensive ecosystem approach to the resource. It is based in large part on the 127 recommendations of the Class Environmental Assessment for Timber Management on Crown Lands in Ontario, an exhaustive seven-year review of forest operations that culminated in a 560-page legal document in 1994. The "Class EA", as it was known, involved scores of hearings, countless hours of preparation by bureaucrats, lawyers and citizens and testimony from hundreds of experts and advocates. The Ministry of Natural Resources' own submission took a full two years to produce and review.

The Crown Forest Sustainability Act is also important in that it puts the cost of renewing the forest and ensuring sustainable forestry on the shoulders of industrial licence holders. Fees from harvesting are put into the Forest Renewal Trust, which reimburses silvicultural expenses. Another fund, the Forestry Futures Trust, pays for silvicultural expenses in Crown forests where trees have been killed or damaged by fire or natural causes; where the forest resource license holder becomes insolvent and for intensive stand management and pest control.

Other forest-related laws include the Public Lands Act, which regulates the general use of all government-owned lands; the Game and Fish Act, regulating hunting and fishing; the Endangered Species Act; the Provincial Parks Act, regulating Ontario's parks and protected areas; and the Forestry Act, which regulates forestry activities on private land and permits a degree of municipal regulation of forestry and silviculture.

It should be noted that all these forest-related acts, and many more, are subject to the Environmental Bill of Rights, a 1993 omnibus law for citizen involvement and public protection in all environmental matters.

Ontario Statutes and Regulations

Environmental Review Tribunal

Environmental Registry of Ontario

Environmental Bill of Rights Homepage

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Last Modified: January 20, 2014 20:01:06. 
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