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Canadian National Forest Strategy

THE FOREST INDUSTRY: A Global Competitor

Canada is a forest nation; our forest land base supports a broad range of activities, uses and values that directly or indirectly touch the lives of us all. Our heritage, culture, economic prosperity, identity and in some ways spiritual well-being are all closely tied to the vast forest landscape; in fact, with the exception of the far north, it is a feature that all Canada's regions have in common. Assessing the full socio-economic contribution of forests to Canadian society requires consideration of all resource uses and a recognition that we must remain globally competitive if we are to continue enjoying the full benefits of our forest landscape.

The forest land base is a source of raw material for the wood and paper products industry that contributed almost $21 billion to Canada's gross domestic product in 1996, most of which originated from the sale of products into foreign markets. Wood and paper industry jobs, investments, salaries and taxes contribute to our standard of living, as well as supporting social services and community development. By emb-racing the principles of sustainable forest management, industry aims to maintain and even enhance the resource for future use. Canadian industry has responded positively to stringent and costly environmental and forest management guidelines; it has, in addition, participated in the development of Canadian standards for certification of the products of sustainable forest management. A healthy forest industry contributes significantly to our ability to fund conservation measures and maintain high standards of environmental quality.

The competitive environment for Canada's forest-based industry is rapidly changing. Traditionally, an abundant supply of high quality timber has been an advantage for our wood and paper products industry in the global marketplace. However, there are limits to continued expansion into undeveloped forest areas, and efforts are being concentrated on improved management techniques. With the trend to globalization of world markets, the future competitiveness of our industry will depend on how well firms can adapt to changes in the domestic and international markets, and whether governments can provide a fiscal and regulatory environment in which private enterprise can flourish. Success will depend on improving performance, developing new and innovative technology, establishing closer ties with customers, providing strong representation of Canadian interests in trade negotiations and protecting the rights of Canadian exporters in foreign markets. It is also essential to maintain a stable and flexible institutional environment, provide secure land tenure and a stable wood supply, support a positive investment climate, and maintain a skilled and flexible workforce

The importance of forests to some Canadians goes much deeper than simply having access to goods and services or being able to participate in outdoor recreation; their direct economic livelihood, and cultural and spiritual well-being, depend on the availability of forests as an economic resource or as a place where they can maintain their way of life. A large number of Canadians reside in communities where the wood and paper products sector -- mainly timber management activities -- is a dominant source of well-paid jobs, and sometimes the only source of economic wealth. These communities are vulnerable to changes in regional, national and global economies. In addition, the broader forest-based economy, including such activities as trapping, gathering wild foods, fishing, outfitting, running vacation lodges, providing services to recreationists, producing Christmas trees and maple products is also important to residents of many communities. There are many poorly understood social implications of forest dependency and the uncertainty of outlook that can occur as a result of this dependency.

Increasingly, however, residents of forest-based communities are becoming more active in management of the forests that have such an impact on their lives, through the public participation processes established as part of the trend toward sustainable forest management.

Just as the forest products markets are becoming increasingly globalized, so too the environmental, ecological and psychological benefits associated with forest ecosystems are assuming an international dimension. Foreigners, like Canadians, value Canada's forests for more than timber products; they also value the associated plant and wildlife populations, and the role of our forests in maintaining global ecological systems. Foreigners want to know that Canada's forests are managed sustainably; similarly, Canadians value and are concerned about the status of forests in other parts of the world. The Canadian forest-based industry recognizes that foreign and domestic consumers want reassurance that their consumption is not contributing to environmental and ecosystem degradation, and desire trustworthy information about Canadian forest practices. One response to this new consumer demand is the industry's participation in efforts to develop certification standards for wood and paper products of sustainably managed forests.

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The Canadian wood and paper industries must remain globally competitive with the major timber-producing regions in the world.

The future competitiveness of Canadian firms in the timber and other forest products will depend on the ability of industry and government to respond to competitive pressures in the domestic and international markets, changes in wood supply, and implementation of sustainable forest management and on an institutional environment conducive to long-term investment.

A healthy and diversified forest-based economy contributes significantly to the social, spiritual, cultural and environmental well-being of Canadian society.

With trustworthy information about Canadian forest practices and assurances that forests are managed sustainably, consumers will express their environmental preferences through the market place.

Framework for Action

We will maintain and enhance the long-term competitiveness of Canada's wood and paper products sector

4.1 By identifying and putting in place those elements essential to ensure the long-term strategic competitiveness of Canada's wood and paper products industry; for example, certification for products of sustainable forest management, security of wood supply, assurance of market access, improved productivity and valued-added products.

4.2 By identifying and removing barriers to, and creating opportunities for, the development, production and marketing of services and higher value-added as well as existing products.

4.3 By carrying out periodic studies to measure the competitiveness of the Canadian forest-based industries, by province, against key timber-producing regions of the world.

4.4 By developing new products and processing methods for currently less-utilized tree species, and developing technologies that accommodate, accept or utilize the changing properties of fibre in second-growth forests.

4.5 By optimizing -- given technical constraints, regulatory requirements and economic viability -- the capacity to utilize recycled materials, as well as other non-traditional fibre sources, to complement roundwood-based sources of fibre.

4.6 By periodically assessing the sustainable supply of timber from Canada and oppor-tunities to maintain or expand it.

4.7 By evaluating and improving, where necessary, mechanisms for advising the Government of Canada on forest-related trade issues regarding priorities, trade agreements, trade disputes and non-tariff barriers.

4.8 By working with other nations develop and implement multi-country product standards and to gain international recognition of Canadian product and building codes, standards and certification systems.

We will further develop economic opportunities for products other than timber:

4.9 By identifying barriers to, and promoting opportunities for, the development, production and marketing of products other than timber, and related services.

4.10 By promoting tourism, ecological and cultural tours, and outdoor forest-based recreation.

We will promote and increase the demand for Canadian goods, services, technologies and expertise in world markets:

4.11 By promoting Canada's forest-based products, expert services and technologies with foreign customers, customer groups and others in a way that demonstrates and reflects Canadian commitments to sustainable forest management practices and environmentally sound technologies.

We will ensure that processes used in forest products manufacturing and resource management are environmentally sound and economically viable:

4.12 By developing new and innovative technology to reduce production costs, add value, and minimize environmental impacts and community health effects.

4.13 By developing and implementing codes of environmental and resource management practices, self regulated by their proponents and consistent with or more stringent than government regulations, together with processes to enforce, review and refine such codes.

4.14 By adopting energy-efficient technologies and substituting renewable for non-renewable forms of energy where technically feasible and economically viable.

We will ensure a predictable framework of regulations and incentive measures that are conducive to long-term investments in Canada's forests and forest enterprises:

4.15 By evaluating and revising, when necessary, government regulations and programs, tenure systems, taxation regimes, and stumpage and other royalties in terms of their impact both on long-term investments in sustainable forest management and on the long-term competitiveness of forest-based enterprises.

4.16 By encouraging investment mechanisms conducive to long-term investments in forest management.

4.17 By improving our understanding of the social and economic dimensions of forests and the inherent value of Canada's forests to Canadian society for all uses.

We will ensure that Canada's progress in developing sustainable forest management systems is recognized and accepted internationally:

4.18 By examining Canadian-based certification systems, in relation to the CCFM criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management, and publishing the results.

4.19 By reviewing external criticism of the Canadian wood and paper industry and following up such assessments with appropriate action, whether internally relating to the industry or externally in the legal, public or political arena.

4.20 By promoting Canadian forest practices and results in the international arena.

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