Forest management has also come under increased examination in international discussions on trade and the environment and in the purchasing decisions of individuals, businesses and governments often thousands of kilometres away.
The Non-legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests (“Guiding Principles on Forests”) was developed by Canada and other nations when it became clear that it would not be possible to develop a binding international forestry convention in time for UNCED. British Columbia supported Canada’s efforts to achieve widespread international agreement on these guiding principles, which were presented and passed at UNCED. As there is considerable overlap between the guiding principles and Canada’s National Forest Strategy (see below), British Columbia expects to achieve substantial compliance with the guiding principles.
The Intergovernmental Working Group on Forests (Malaysia-Canada Initiative) — a multilateral group of 32 countries, 11 environmental organizations and five international agencies initiated and co-chaired by Canada and Malaysia — has met a number of times since 1992. The group discusses overall issues of sustainable forestry and develops recommendations to take to the United Nations Committee on Sustainable Development (UNCSD). British Columbia has participated in this initiative through Canada’s representatives, and has encouraged outcomes which reflect the range of options required to manage the diversity of natural forest ecosystems across the province.
The Working Group on Criteria and Indicators for the Conservation and Management of Temperate and Boreal Forests (Montreal Process) includes representatives of nine countries, including Canada, who have met six times to draft a set of criteria and indicators for sustainable forestry. This set of criteria and indicators will be submitted to the UNCSD. British Columbia has participated in this initiative through Canada’s representatives, and has worked to ensure that the outcomes of this process reflects the full range of options required to manage provincial forests.
The Economic Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management (Helsinki Process) were developed for European temperate and boreal forests, which is more reflective of the European style of forest management. The 42 European countries participating in this process plan to take their results to UNCSD and are beginning to develop reporting mechanisms based on these criteria and indicators.
The World Trade Organization is likely to play a significant role in evaluating the connections between environmental policies (including resource use and pricing) and trade, and has established a Trade and Environment Committee. As resource use and the internalizing of environmental costs and resource management policies are key issues in cross-boundary trade at present, British Columbia has a clear stake in these initiatives.
Canada’s National Forest Strategy (NFS) was signed in 1992 by the federal, provincial and territorial governments. It commits all signatories to establishing models of sustainable forests in Canada’s major forest regions and to a working definition of biodiversity. It specifically commits governments to completing ecological land classifications, and private and public forest management bodies to accommodating soil, climate and wildlife concerns, in the development of silvicultural and management regimes. A 1994 interim NFS progress evaluation found that British Columbia is already addressing most of these commitments.
The Canada Forest Accord of 1992 commits the federal, provincial and territorial governments, along with aboriginal people, non-government organizations and the forest industry, to work together toward sustainable forests.
Canadian Criteria and Indicators of Sustainable Forestry have been developed by a multi sectoral working group. The Canadian approach proposes four criteria concerned with environmental aspects of forest ecosystems, two with socioeconomic aspects and one with aboriginal issues. The first six criteria and their indicators are compatible with those produced for the Helsinki Process (see Section 9.4.1). British Columbia participated in this process and is committed to its implementation.
British Columbia took an active role in the development of international accords on forestry, biodiversity and climate change and in national processes leading up to Canada’s National Forest Strategy and the national Forest Accord. The province continues to participate in international efforts to develop standards, criteria, indicators and certification schemes in order to protect its interests. These interests include ensuring that international standards recognize the range of forest ecosystems and values in British Columbia and the comprehensive program of initiatives the province has put in place to manage and conserve them.
The national and international initiatives described above reflect the increasing internationalization of land use and resource management decision-making that is part of the trend towards sustainability. Sustainable development — as outlined in Section 9.3.1 of this report — is helping to guide today’s forestry, land use and environmental decisions. Inherent in the concept of sustainability is the fading of boundaries between environment and economy, between present and future generations and between one jurisdiction and another.
Forest management and the agencies that regulate it are increasingly under scrutiny from individuals, companies and governments — often thousands of kilometres away. Although the perspective of these international players may be based on forest management models more appropriate to their own countries, they exert an influence in an increasingly interdependent world. Over the next few years, therefore, international opinion will likely increase in importance as one of the many factors shaping provincial decisions about land and resource use.