The law

Ontario’s forest laws and policies provide direction for the sustainable management and use of Crown forests.

They ensure that our forests remain healthy and provide benefits to present and future generations.

The Crown Forest Sustainability Act outlines:

  • how forest management planning, forest resource agreements, licences, revenue collection and trust funds are regulated
  • information management
  • forest operations, compliance, remedies and enforcement mechanisms
  • licensing of scalers (people who measure wood harvested)
  • regulation of independent forest audits

Forest management manuals

Forest Management Planning Manual

The Forest Management Planning Manual provides direction for all aspects of forest management planning on designated management units in Ontario’s Crown forests under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.

The forest management planning cycle is set out by the manual and consists of:

  • planning
  • implementation
  • monitoring
  • reporting

The reporting component of this planning system includes evaluation of results and recommendations to be incorporated into a subsequent planning process to complete the cycle.

The Forest Management Planning Manual focuses on the delivery of the forest management component of provincial and regional land use and resource management policies and strategies, along with other local strategies, to provide the overall context for the preparation of Forest Management Plans, including the determination of forest sustainability.

Forest Information Manual

The Forest Information Manual sets out the:

  • mandatory requirements
  • standards
  • roles and responsibilities
  • timelines
  • conditions

for providing information in respect of Crown forests.

The Forest Information Manual also sets out the requirements for providing information required for forest management planning. This includes:

  • forest resources inventories
  • maps
  • geospatial data layers
  • forest operations inspections
  • forest values
  • base data
  • reports
  • other information needed to be compliant with the Crown Forest Sustainability Act and its regulations

The requirements for information in the Forest Information Manual complement the planning and operational requirements of the Forest Management Planning Manual.

Forest Operations and Silviculture Manual

The Forest Operations and Silviculture Manual sets out the:

  • principles and accepted approaches for forest management
  • standards for forest operations and silvicultural  practices
  • minimum qualifications forestry workers need to have
  • procedures for the evaluation of forest management in Ontario
  • measures to assess performance of forest operations

Scaling manual

Scalers measure wood products to determine the scale (volume) and the quality (grade) of the wood to produce the "net volume" of saleable wood.

The Scaling Manual sets out the standards for the training, licensing and approval of scalers and scaling auditors in the province.

Other Ontario forest related laws

The following laws also govern forest management in the province:

Forest laws on private land

The provincial legislation above does not directly apply to private land in Ontario.

The Forestry Act and the Municipal Act may apply on some private land.

There are also a number of other provincial and federal laws that apply to forest management on both Crown and private lands.

Forest policy

Ontario’s forest policies support provincial and national commitments to sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.

Policy framework for sustainable forests

The policy framework for creating sustainable forests in the province.

Old growth policy for Crown forests

Provides provincial directions for the identification and conservation of old growth conditions for the tree species in Crown forests.

Forest compliance handbook

A handbook to assist ministry (and forest industry) staff to understand and implement forest operations compliance policy. The handbook includes the Forest Compliance Strategy.

Ontario tree seed transfer policy

The Ontario tree seed transfer policy replaces the Seed Zones of Ontariofootnote 1.

Learn where seed can be collected and used in Ontario. This policy ensures that seed used to regenerate forests has a good chance of producing trees that are adapted to their growing environment. The Ontario tree seed transfer policy replaces the Seed Zones of Ontario.

Forest management guides

Information for Crown forest managers developing plans for sustainable forests. The guides include silvicultural practices and methods on conserving biodiversity and protecting wildlife habitat, watersheds, cultural heritage and recreation.

How you can contribute to forest policy

You are encouraged to participate in the development and review of government forest policy.

Most forest policy proposals and decisions are posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario.

The Provincial Forest Technical Committee provides advice on forest management guides. Its members have expertise in forest management and forest sciences and includes representatives from:

  • the forest industry
  • environmental organizations
  • Indigenous groups
  • academia
  • research organizations


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