A major step to increase the similarity between natural and managed forest landscapes has been agreed after collaborative discussions between a group of Canadian forest products companies and leading environmental organizations.
Forestry companies belonging to the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) have committed to using a management approach that comes closer to recreating natural landscapes. This involves using knowledge about the structure and compositions of ecosystems to guide forest management activities – in effect, taking our cues from nature. It includes harvesting in patterns that more closely resemble the impact of fire, winds, insects and other natural disturbances. This is what we call natural range of variation (NRV). “The development of science-based guidelines for implementing natural range of variation principles is a significant step toward realizing an ecosystem-based approach to forest stewardship in the CBFA tenures. These areas are key contributors to the integrity of boreal systems in Canada.” says Dr. Fiona Schmiegelow, Chair of the Science Committee and Senior Science Advisor to the CBFA. A built-in evaluation process has been included so that new knowledge, for example around climate change, as well as social and economic considerations, will be continually incorporated into the approach.
Successful implementation of this blueprint for managing forests to the natural range of variation requires the effective involvement of the public, governments, and indigenous peoples. The forest industry companies involved will submit this approach as technical input to the provincial forest management planning processes that they are already part of, and will also seek further dialogue.
This is a voluntary commitment by the FPAC forest products companies that is on top of their commitment to sustainable forest management certification. This NRV blueprint was initiated under the auspices of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and is considered a major step towards its goal of making Canada a world leader in sustainable forest management. The management approach is already being implemented in some areas of Canada’s boreal forest; this commitment will significantly accelerate and broaden its use by FPAC member companies across 73 million hectares of boreal forest.