Forest Tenure Modernization in Ontario

Posted by on Jan 4, 2017 in Articles | 0 comments

Forest Tenure Modernization in Ontario

With approximately 85 billion trees, our forest asset is the envy of the world. It sustains a $12-billion industry and delivers hundreds of thousands of jobs to hundreds of communities across Ontario.

Why change the current system?

This modernization process, which was initiated in 2009, will make the system more flexible, and responsive to today’s fast-changing economic environment. It will help put Ontario’s Crown forests to work for all Ontarians.

Today’s forest tenure system originated about 100 years ago. It is based on a model that essentially gives many primary wood-using mills responsibility to manage Ontario’s forests while they also receive their long-term wood supply from Ontario.

In many areas of the province, this system limits opportunities for entrepreneurs, access to timber, and, in some cases, jobs and investment. The most recent economic crisis magnified these problems. Facing a rising dollar, global competition, and a crash in the U.S. housing market, mills idled and some shut permanently. People lost their jobs, leaving an indelible scar on some northern and rural communities.

And while this happened, timber was left unused. In many instances, government had to intervene to ensure new entrants and other operating companies could access this unused wood. One lesson is clear: Settling for status quo costs us all.

What’s changing?

As a first step, the Government of Ontario passed the Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act, 2011. This legislation enables the first changes required to implement tenure modernization. Next, Ontario is transitioning to new tenure models: Local Forest Management Corporations (LFMCs) and Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence holders (Enhanced SFLs). These models will help make the allocation and prices of Ontario’s wood more responsive to market demand, create new opportunities for entrepreneurs, and facilitate greater Aboriginal and local involvement in the forest sector.

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