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World's Boreal Forests:

Management & Sustainability
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Canadian National Forest Strategy


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 competitive position.

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.

Canadian 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 interested parties.

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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 S&T.

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 forest community:

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 nations.

5.5 By promoting interdisciplinary collaboration in research and facilitating local, national and international liaisons.

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