Ontario’s forestry sector

Forestry is an important part of Ontario’s economy. With approximately 85 billion trees, the forest sector supports about 147,000 jobs in communities across the province, and generates over $18 billion in revenue.

About forest tenure

Forest tenure is the term commonly used to describe who manages Crown forests and how forest companies get access to Crown fibre. More specifically, it specifies the distribution and licencing of timber from Crown forests.

Tenure is directed by legal arrangements that explain the rights and responsibilities assigned to forestry companies and other resource users.

We’re updating Ontario’s forest tenure system.

Reasons for modernization

The forest tenure system has continued to change for the better but there are opportunities to improve things like:

  • new companies’ access to unused wood supply
  • local and Indigenous community involvement
  • information quality and its accessibility

Forest tenure modernization is our long-term commitment to strengthening the current tenure system, while considering the interests of local communities, the forest industry, Indigenous communities and other stakeholders.

Modernizing the forest tenure system will better support existing relationships as well as help build new ones. Modernization will:

  • create opportunities for new and existing companies to access and use wood supply
  • increase local and Indigenous community involvement
  • enable more sustainable forest management
  • strengthen the economic viability of the forest sector

Goals of modernization

The three goals of forest tenure modernization are:

  1. support a strong, vibrant, and diverse forest industry while maintaining a healthy and productive Crown forest
  2. enhance the social well-being of all Ontarians by:
    • optimizing the values gained from the Crown forest
    • recognizing the heightened interest of those who live in and near the Crown forest
  1. be transparent, flexible, responsive, open and accountable to the people of Ontario

A key objective of forest tenure modernization is also to support the growth of the forest sector and create jobs.

Implementing forest tenure modernization is a key component of the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario.

How Ontario is modernizing forest tenure

The Ontario Forest Tenure Modernization Act, 2011 (OFTMA), is a major milestone in modernizing forest tenure in Ontario. This Act enables the establishment of Local Forest Management Corporations, one of the new models for forest tenure.

We’ve been working with local partners to transition priority forest management units to new tenure models.

New forest tenure models

There are about 40 forest management units in Ontario. Each is managed in one of six different tenure models:

  • single entity Sustainable Forest Licence
  • shareholder Sustainable Forest Licence
  • Algonquin Forest Authority,
  • by the Crown
  • Local Forest Management Corporation
  • Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence

Local Forest Management Corporations and Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence companies are new forest tenure models.

Local Forest Management Corporations

Local Forest Management Corporations are government agencies that manage Crown forests according to the terms and conditions of a Sustainable Forest Licence and oversee the sale of the timber in a designated licenced area.

Local Forest Management Corporations are governed by a board of directors that provide representatives from local and Indigenous communities with opportunities to engage in the management of the licenced area’s Crown forests.

The Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation is the first local forest management corporation in Ontario. It was established in May of 2012.

Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation manages four forests in the Marathon area:

  • Big Pic
  • Pic River
  • Nagagami
  • White River

The Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation board includes members from Marathon area communities:

  • Biigtigong Nishnaabeg (Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation)
  • Pic Mobert First Nation
  • Hornepayne Aboriginal community
  • Marathon
  • Hornepayne
  • Manitouwadge
  • White River

Over time, the management area Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation is responsible for will grow to cover approximately 1.9 million hectares of productive Crown forest. It will have responsibility for an annual harvest volume of over 2.5 million cubic metres of wood.

Enhanced Sustainable Forest License companies

Enhanced Sustainable Forest License companies are private companies created by groups of mills, harvesters, local communities and Indigenous communities. Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence companies manage Crown forests according to the terms and conditions of a Sustainable Forest Licence.

Although many existing Sustainable Forest License companies follow models similar to the Enhanced Sustainable Forest License company model, Enhanced Sustainable Forest License companies are structured to address these key characteristics:

  • Governance
  • Local Indigenous community involvement and local community involvement
  • Wood use
  • New entrants
  • Sustainable forest management delivery
  • Economic viability and competitive wood costs

Enhanced Sustainable Forest License companies are designed to be flexible to address local circumstances and interests.

In April 2018, Ondaadiziwin Forest Management Inc. became the first Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence company. The company holds a Sustainable Forest Licence and is responsible for the Lac Seul Forest in northwestern Ontario. The Lac Seul Forest is about 800,000 ha in size. Ondaadiziwin Forest Management Inc. has a local board of directors with both forest industry and First Nation members. The local community of Sioux Lookout and local independent harvesters are represented in advisory bodies created under the modernization tenure model.

As we transition to Enhanced Sustainable Forest License companies, the ministry will be:

  • working with willing participants
  • focusing forest tenure modernization implementation efforts on forest management units that are currently managed by the Crown and forests that have been identified by stakeholders as priorities
  • responsive to all inquiries from Indigenous people, municipalities and forest industry
  • combining Crown managed forests with nearby Sustainable Forest Licence companies to reduce forest management planning costs and simplify administration
  • supporting existing Sustainable Forest License companies that are ready to transition to an Enhanced Sustainable Forest License company model
  • providing economic development and meaningful involvement opportunities to Indigenous communities

The transition to Enhanced Sustainable Forest License companies is guided by the Principles for Enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence Implementation. The Principles were collaboratively developed by representatives from the forest industry, forestry-based communities and a few First Nations people. The document was endorsed by the ministry in October 2012.

For more Information about the implementation process, please contact the Forest Tenure Section of the ministry.

Review of Forest Tenure Models

A multi-party group, known as the Forest Tenure Modernization Oversight Group, worked collaboratively to provide advice and recommendations to the ministr of Natural Resources and Forestry. The group was comprised of representatives from:

  • First Nations groups
  • Métis
  • Forest-based communities
  • the forest sector
  • independent members at large
  • the ministry

The Oversight Group also provided recommendations to the ministry on existing and new forest tenure models. They submitted a report to the Ministry with recommendations on how to continue modernizing Ontario’s forest tenure system.

Learn more about the review of Forest Tenure Models