UBC Reports
October 16, 1997

Forests earn passing grade, says report

A panel of experts led by Forestry Prof. Gordon Baskerville gave Canada's National Forest Strategy Coalition a passing grade after its first five years of operation.

Baskerville, head of the Forest Resources Management Dept., says Canada is making reasonable progress towards the coalition's goal of sustainable forest management.

"In 1992 it was clear that we were not making the most of forest resources. Now there are areas of tremendous progress, but there are still some big holes," he says.

While the panel is pleased that the total area of protected forests has expanded, they express some doubt as to whether the protected areas truly represent the full diversity of forest ecosystems.

The panel also lauds the development of a national framework of indicators and criteria for the sustainability of forest management. According to the panel, the framework helps address the urgent need for objective measures for testing and demonstrating sustainability.

Among the coalition's commitments that remain unfulfilled is the need for a complete ecological classification of forest lands to deal with the many different forest ecosystems in Canada. The panel notes progress in this area, but only in certain parts of the country.

Another of the coalition's unfinished tasks is the completion of forest inventories that include information about values other than timber, such as water resources, and wildlife and their habitats.The panel warns that without regular inventories, there is no way to quantify problems or to measure the progress of solutions.

The coalition, comprising more than 90 organizations across Canada representing industry, governments, environmentalists, aboriginal groups and academics, formed in 1992.

At that time, they made some 100 commitments to form the five-year plan know as the Canada Forest Accord.

The four-member panel included: Al Davidson, assistant deputy minister, Parks Canada; Daniel Lamarre, former president of the National Forest Capital of Canada; and Hollis Murray, former assistant director general for the Forestry Dept. of the United Nations.

When the coalition presents its new five-year accord in February, Baskerville hopes several issues will draw special attention. He cites: creating ways to allow First Nations people to contribute more to sustainable forest management; finding effective ways to measure sustainable levels of valued forest components other than timber, such as wildlife populations; training foresters in the rapidly evolving knowledge base needed to attain sustainable forest management; and encouraging private woodlot owners to embrace sustainable forest management practices.