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"A sustainable environment is one in which the natural environment, economic development and social life are seen as mutually dependent".
-- Centre for Innovative Education

Coastal Communities Network

NS Public Lands Coalition


The following is an exerpt from a

Working Paper prepared for the World Bank
Forest Policy Implementation Review and Strategy

Stig Hagner
FAO Consultant,
Forestry Policy and Planning Division, Rome

July 1999

Forest management in temperate and boreal forests: current practices and the scope for implementing sustainable forest management

For the complete text, go to the FAO Corporate Document Repository

4.3.1 Forest certification and sustainable forest management in Canada

In Canada, a group comprising many different stakeholders developed national standards for sustainable forest management during the 1990´s. The result of this was the Canadian Standards Association sustainable forest management system (CSA 808 and CSA 809). Any organisation seeking to register a defined forest area under this system must be periodically audited by certified third party auditors, who will assess whether:

  • _ the sustainable forest management system in place in the forest has been established with public participation;
  • _ the sustainable forest management system is being implemented according to the plan and the sustainable forest management objectives agreed for area;
  • _ progress towards achieving the sustainable forest management objectives is being monitored and new knowledge is being used to continually improve the sustainable forest management system; and
  • _ the sustainable forest management system is achieving any performance indicators that have been set for the defined area.

An example of one forest management system following this approach follows.

Extract from a "Forestry Green Balance Sheet" produced by STORA, Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, Canada

This environmental policy states that, in maintaining an environmental management system, the company through its employees shall:

  1. commit itself to a continuos improvement in forestry methods;

  2. sustain the long-term production of valuable wood;

  3. commit itself to pollution prevention, soil conservation and waste reduction;

  4. utilise long-term landscape ecosystem planning, appropriate silviculture systems and operating practices that conserve biodiversity;

  5. provide appropriate training to company employees and contractors in relevant environmental aspects of their work;

  6. encourage private wood suppliers to comply with forest stewardship and the company's environmental standards;

  7. develop and use emergency response plans for environmental emergencies;

  8. meet or surpass the requirements of applicable regulations and legal obligations; and

  9. regularly report on environmental performance and status to the public.

Management activities are based on the principle of landscape ecosystem management, appropriate silvicultural treatments and special conservation measures to protect wildlife habitat, social culture and scenic values. Depending on the different ecosystems present in the managed forest, the wood harvest is carried out in the form of:

  1. partial cutting in birch and balsam fir forest;

  2. clear cutting in fire adapted forests; and

  3. thinning and partial cutting to regenerate red spruce ecosystems.

The management practices also consider nature conservation including forest stand level attributes, such as riparian buffers, wildlife corridors, residual tree clumps, coarse woody debris retention, correct forest road construction and careful stream crossing techniques. The nature conservation goal is to preserve the natural occurring plant and animal species in the forest landscapes. The approach is:

  1. to maintain connectivity of ecosystems with a system of interconnecting corridors and regionally protected areas, at a landscape or eco-district level;

  2. to provide a variety of habitats, forest age class, forest stand shapes and size classes;

  3. to employ silviculture management systems that are appropriate considering the natural ecological development sequence of each site; and

  4. to employ day to day management practices that protect ecosystem functions at the forest stand level.

Ecological landscape planning is carried out to maintain connectivity of ecosystems and provide a variety of landscape elements through:

  1. assessing how the landscape currently functions with regard to matrix patches, corridors and pathways, unique habitats, protected areas and genetic flow;

  2. describing the natural history of the landscape (natural disturbance, human agents, succession);

  3. determining integrated management objectives based on landscape parameters, industrial interests, public interest and other demands from the forest and legislation; and

  4. using discretion in the use of non-native tree species.

Every year a "Green Audit" is completed, which comprises a 5% random inventory of the current year's harvest areas. Department of Natural Resources employees (two forestry personnel and two biologists) conduct this audit.

To better judge the industry's views about the current state of sustainable forest management in Canada, a questionnaire was sent to several large Canadian forest product corporations and forest leaseholders. Their opinions about the present sustainable forest management process in Canada are summarised below:

Opinions about the current policy:

_ Legislation and government policy towards sustainable forest management tends only to be focused on forest management for timber production.

_ It is important to consider the demands of First Nations tribes and local communities, but their demands often lie outside the boundaries of forest operations.

_ It is very difficult to obtain public participation because of the wide range of levels of understanding of the concept of sustainable forest management amongst the different stakeholders.

Impact on operations:

_ Reductions in the area of production forest expected to occur as a result of the impact of sustainable forest management varies between 5 and 16%.

_ A big problem is the demand for extensive documentation, public participation and extensive requirements to measure biodiversity under sustainable forest management systems.

_ Respondents were cautious about the effect of the implementation of sustainable forest management on wood harvest. They suggested that, generally, cutting levels may be reduced by 15% and production costs will be higher but, hopefully, there will then be fewer critics of forest operations.

_ Clearfelling is generally practised, but is sometimes modified to protect the soil and regeneration and more closely emulate natural disturbance patterns.

_ There is however, more and more use of partial cutting systems (e.g. shelterwood, thinning and irregular shelterwood systems) in order to simulate natural forest development processes.

_ The use of reforestation methods needed to maintain stand productivity has been reduced.

_ Managers now tend to leave more structural features in the forest such as: snags; patches of trees burned by wildfire; and woody debris.

_ Topics considered when implementing sustainable forest management systems include: biodiversity, fish and wildlife resources, recreation values, forest health, and landscape ecosystem management.

Challenges for the future:

_ There is an inadequate understanding about the concept of sustainable forest management amongst private woodland owners.

_ There is still a need for a broader discussion about sustainable forest management involving the government, local stakeholders and the general public.

_ There is still a general lack of understanding about forestry amongst the general public, particularly in urban areas (that tend to have the most political influence).

Another source of information about the current implementation of sustainable forest management in Canada is the study on private woodland owners in the Maritime Provinces, recently published by the National Round Table of Environment and Economy (NRTEE). The conclusions of the report can be summarised as follows:

_ the main forest management problems in forests that are privately owned, concern the overharvesting of what is becoming a declining resource and a lack of interest in long-term forest stewardship practices;

_ these problems arise partly due to a lack of understanding about the principles of sustainable forest management and the desire to make "fast money"; and

_ there is a lack of silvicultural programs and government planning to address these problems.

To overcome these problems, the report proposes a number of steps towards achieving sustainability including: increasing co-operation; better education and training for forest contractors and owners; and incentives for sustainable management. In summary, it suggests that tax reform, research and development, greater co-operative efforts, better training, a forest certification system and codes of forest practice, are needed.

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All content,unless otherwise indicated, 2014 Bay of Islands Centre for Sustainable Development, Moser River, Bay of Islands, Nova Scotia, B0J 2K0. The Bay of Islands Center is a not-for-profit educational project registered in the Province of Nova Scotia, Canada.

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