Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial forest ministers gathered this week at Elk Ridge, in the heart of Saskatchewan’s boreal forest, for their annual meeting to discuss challenges and opportunities facing Canada’s forest sector. The August 12-14 meeting was hosted by Saskatchewan Environment Minister Dustin Duncan, current Chair of Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM).
“The CCFM provides an important forum to discuss shared priorities and emerging trends in the forest sector across Canada,” Minister Duncan said. “Although each jurisdiction has unique circumstances, there is tremendous value in identifying opportunities to work together on shared issues, and to hear about the many achievements that support a vision for a strong and sustainable forest sector.”
In addition to the Ministers’ discussions on forest sector competitiveness, job creation, trade and innovation, and a field tour of a nearby wildfire risk reduction project, the meeting also included the Forum on the Forests. During the Forum, the Ministers invited a variety of experts and stakeholders to discuss a range of advancements and opportunities, including Indigenous engagement in the forest sector, new approaches to wildland fires, and strengthening Canada’s environmental reputation.
The Council discussed several key forest sector priorities at this year’s meeting:
• Ministers agreed to further collaborate to promote the environmental reputation of the forest sector and further position Canada as a world leader in sustainable forest management and environmental stewardship.
• The Council agreed to advance a whole-of-government approach to wildland fire management.
• Ministers will continue to implement the Council’s Forest Bioeconomy Framework for Canada, with a report expected at their next meeting.
• Ministers discussed softwood lumber, reaffirming the importance of a coordinated approach to support and defend the forest sector.
• Innovation across the forest sector remains at the core of Council discussions.
As the meeting’s last order of business, Minister Duncan turned the CCFM Chair over to the Northwest Territories, who will host the group’s 2020 gathering.
“The Northwest Territories is proud to take on the CCFM Chair role,” Northwest Territories Environment and Natural Resources Deputy Minister Dr. Joe Dragon said. “We look forward to maintaining the momentum gained this past year on issues such as collaboration with Indigenous communities and increasing wildland fire resiliency.”
The CCFM was established in 1985 to help federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together on common concerns relating to the forest sector. The CCFM provides leadership on national and international issues, and sets direction for the stewardship and sustainable management of forests in Canada.