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Forests are incredibly complex ecosystems that are an integral part of our human landscape, culturally, spiritually and economically. They are also home to a vast diversity of wildlife-- of the estimated 140,000 species in Canada; approximately two-thirds are thought to occur in forests.

Although 94% of our forests are publicly owned, the vast majority of commercially viable crown forest land in Canada is licensed to industry. Forestry policy varies from province to province to territory, but industrial forestry traditionally manages forests to maximize the amount of wood coming out of a management unit, and doesn’t pay enough attention to leaving behind old trees, a diversity of species composition, and healthy wildlife populations to ensure that ecosystem functioning is maintained for the long term.

Progressive forestry practices (often motivated by community management policies and/or the processes and guidelines of the Forest Stewardship Council’s certification standards) are moving towards ecosystem-based management, which places maintaining forest structure, composition and function as a management priority, and ensures that resource extraction, through diverse initiatives, operates within these ecological limits.

Traditional industrial forestry has often affected local and Aboriginal communities in detrimental ways, by creating undiversified and volatile economies and by impairing habitat and wildlife populations (which undermines Aboriginal rights to hunt, trap and fish on crown land.) Further, the financial benefits of logging have often been distributed inequitably, benefiting company shareholders and CEOs as opposed to the Aboriginal and local communities who are directly affected by logging practices. Finally, affected local and Aboriginal communities have, to a large extent, been excluded from meaningful participation opportunities in forest management planning processes.

Some of these trends are starting to change. Sierra Club Canada works to promote the meaningful inclusion of local and Aboriginal communities in forest management planning processes, and champions the reallocation of industrial tenure to Aboriginal and local communities, in the form of community forests. We also work to improve forest management practices to better protect biodiversity. We recognize that forest biodiversity is under threat across Canada, and work hard to protect our forests and the wildlife that lives within them while supporting sustainable, community-based economies.

To read more about our forest campaigns, select one of the links below or visit one of our campaign pages listed on the right-hand side of this page.

National Forest Strategy Report Card

Tenure Reform and Community Forests

Forest Caucus Report

Can Intensive Forestry Help Promote Forest Conservation? (pdf file)

SCC Forest Certification Bulletin

The State of Ontario’s Forests – A Cause for Concern


  • Integrated Land-Use Planning and Canada’s New National Forest Strategy

    The National Forest Strategy is a consensus-based document developed by provincial and territorial forest ministers, Aboriginal Peoples, diverse forestry practitioners (from woodlot owners to industrial companies), environmental organizations and university-based researchers. It identifies ecosystem-based management of Canada’s forests as its first objective.

    Unfortunately, in Canada, planning processes have generally operated without regard for ecosystem-based management, often resulting in land-use allocations that have fragmented and impaired forest ecosystems. In contrast, integrated land-use planning processes can help to ensure that development activities fit sustainably within ecological limits and that conservation objectives guide land-use decisions.
    Read the report here

  • Sustainable development for Quebec’s public forests

    SCC’s Quebec group, in cooperation with Sierra Club Canada national office, submitted a report to the Commission d’étude sur la gestion de la forêt publique québécoise. The Commission intends to define an overall vision of sustainable development for Quebec’s public forests. Read the report here (pdf, 160K)

    La section québécoise du Sierra Club, en collaboration avec le bureau national du Sierra Club du Canada, a récemment soumis un rapport à la Commission d'étude sur la gestion de la forêt publique québécoise. La Commission entend définir une vision globale du développement durable des forêts publiques du Québec. (en anglais seulement)

  • Sierra Club Canada and Global Forest Watch Canada make available corporate forest development plan maps

    map-image Forest companies’ plans for future logging and road building are now available for portions of Canada’s commercial forest. In a joint project between Sierra Club Canada and Global Forest Watch Canada, these plans are available for downloading through

  • Ecosystem Based Management: Reality or Rhetoric?

    The first objective of the National Forest Strategy (NFS), 2003-2008, is a commitment to manage Canada’s natural forest using an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach that maintains forest health, structure, functions, composition and biodiversity.

    The NFS does not include indicators or thresholds for EBM implementation. Sierra Club Canada, and the Innu Nation of Labrador, drawing on extensive work that has already been done in this area especially the newly released Forest Stewardship Council’s National Boreal Standard, have developed a set of indicators for EBM policy as an initial step. Read the report here (pdf, 2 MB)

  • Footprints in the forest
    Current practice and future challenges in forest certification

    Footprints in the forest provides information about the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) standard and certification requirements developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). In order to better understand how the CSA SFM performance framework is translated into a management plan Sierra Club Canada reviewed several SFM plans from operations certified to the CSA SFM standard – in particular the objectives and targets that are the key field components subject to audit. The report is intended to provide factual information that will allow for comparison between different certification schemes. Read the report here (pdf, 460K)

  • Logging and wilderness preservation in Newfoundland’s Main River watershed

    Recommendations in a 2003 released industry-SCC report represent a significant step forward towards resolving conflicts between logging and wilderness preservation in a watershed of about 1,000 km2 on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. This is an area of old-growth boreal forest that is ecologically significant, important for wilderness recreation and a source of fiber for Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s newsprint mill in nearby Corner Brook. The report can be read here (PDF format, 185K)

  • Forests, Climate Change and Carbon Reservoirs
    A Sierra Club Canada Discussion Paper

    Forests affect and are affected by climate change in numerous ways. The impacts of climate change on forests and forest health can be expected to be significant, and in some regions severe. Large undisturbed forests will be of increasing importance as refuges and migration routes for species forced into new regions with more suitable climate.

    Forests, Climate Change and Carbon Reservoirs focuses on the potential role of forests in mitigating climate change through enhanced storage of carbon.

  • Response to the Draft Newfoundland and Labrador Sustainable Forest Management Strategy

    The “Response to the Draft Newfoundland and Labrador Sustainable Forest Management Strategy” is a collaborative effort of several ENGOs, an aboriginal group, and concerned individuals from Newfoundland and Labrador. It presents comments, omissions, and recommendations to the Newfoundland and Labrador Sustainable Forest Management Strategy: Draft (SFMS) that was release for a 60-day public consideration process on June 2, 2003.

  • Will the National Forest Strategy Make a Difference? A Sierra Club Canada Assessment

    This is the first time that Sierra Club Canada (or indeed any campaign-based environmental organization) has participated actively in the development of the National Forest Strategy. In the past environmental organizations have for the most part been wary of the National Forest Strategy, viewing it as largely a public relations exercise of relatively little significance in actually leveraging positive changes in policies and practices affecting Canada’s forests. Sierra Club Canada decided to set aside this skepticism in order to participate actively and constructively in the development of the new National Forest Strategy.

  • Kyoto Forests? Fast-Growing Plantations are Not the Answer

    There is increasing interest in meeting some portion of Canada’s Kyoto commitment through “afforestation”, or creating new forests for the purposes of sequestering carbon emissions. In particular, some are pressing for government programs to support the establishment of plantations of fast-growing species. However many experts have expressed strong skepticism about the advisability of such a scheme, citing a number of concerns.


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