Overview

Ontario’s forest sector strategy is the province’s plan to create jobs and encourage economic growth in the forestry industry, supporting the Indigenous, northern and rural communities that depend on the sector while ensuring our forests are managed sustainably for generations to come.

Public engagement

The draft forest sector strategy was developed through discussions at seven roundtable sessions with the forestry industry, municipalities and Indigenous communities throughout Ontario between November 2018 and May 2019.

  • 173 people attended the roundtable sessions.
  • An additional 134 responses were received through emails and an online survey.

What we heard at roundtables

  • The industry needs a guaranteed, affordable, and consistent wood supply.
  • The forest planning process has several areas of duplication and many inefficiencies.
  • Log and operating costs are too high (e.g. energy, transportation, equipment, forest management planning) – a clear need to reduce costs and reduce unnecessary burdens.
  • Uncertainty around trade and markets, and a lack of flexibility for innovation in forestry (planning, supply chain management, manufacturing), are impacting the industry’s ability to recover, modernize, diversify, innovate and invest.
  • Labour and skills shortages are creating challenges.
  • Indigenous representatives emphasized respect for Aboriginal and treaty rights, having greater involvement in managing forests and the forest sector, including economic benefits from forestry.

Comments on the draft forest sector strategy

On December 4, 2019, Ontario released a draft forest sector strategy which was posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario (ERO) for comment until February 5, 2020. We received:

  • 483 direct comments from the public, Indigenous communities and municipalities
  • over 32,000 form letters as a result of a mail-in campaign

Of the 483 direct comments received:

  • 30% were in support
  • 47% were against
  • 23% were neutral

Consultation, dialogue and engagement

Between January 13 and February 12, 2020, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks hosted 10 consultation and engagement sessions with Indigenous peoples, and six sessions with municipalities:

  • 100 participants from 45 communities attended the Indigenous sessions
  • 57 participants attended the municipal sessions

In May 2020, the forestry Ministerial Advisory Council (MAC) was established to support the Ontario Jobs and Recovery committee in response to COVID-19. Four meetings were held with industry to discuss the economic impacts of the outbreak and recommended measures to help the sector recover.

The final forest sector strategy was influenced by:

  • findings from the ERO posting
  • consultation and engagement sessions with Indigenous communities/groups and municipalities
  • supplementary feedback from Indigenous communities
  • MAC meetings

Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy

The final forest sector strategy reflects what we heard during our consultations with multiple stakeholder and partner groups and the wide array of feedback we have received.

Read Sustainable Growth: Ontario's Forest Sector Strategy.

Forest Biomass Action Plan

A key commitment in our forest sector strategy is the development of a Forest Biomass Action Plan. The plan encourages the use of forest biomass resources to:

  • secure jobs
  • support economic development
  • encourage sustainability in the forest sector

Public engagement

To include a range of perspectives in the action plan, we formed and collaborated with the Forest Biomass Action Plan Working Group, which includes representatives from across the forest biomass supply chain.

A draft version of the action plan was posted to the ERO from May 6 to June 21, 2021 to gather broader public input.

We also engaged and consulted with First Nations and Métis communities and organizations from across the province between May 6 and July 5, 2021.

All comments shared through the ERO and Indigenous consultation were considered and used to improve and finalize the draft plan.

Final Forest Biomass Action Plan

A final version of the Forest Biomass Action Plan is now complete and was released by Minister Greg Rickford on March 28, 2022. The plan will be implemented over a five-year period. Progress on implementing the plan will be shared through interim and final reports.

Forest biomass presents many opportunities for Ontarians. We look forward to continued collaboration and partnership as the plan is implemented.

Read the Forest Biomass Action Plan

Next steps

  • A Forest Sector Strategy Committee will support the development and implementation of, Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy. Working collaboratively, the committee will provide input to the ministry as they undertake:
    • the implementation of the strategy
    • monitoring Ontario's progress on the implementation of the strategy including the development of key performance indicators
    • review of annual reports that outline achievements on goals set out in the four pillars of the strategy
    • development of recommendations on matters related to the implementation of the strategy
  • Where possible key performance indicators for the actions identified under each pillar will be developed. These will include direct measures (outputs) that monitored over time will track changes and trends to help assess how effective the various actions have been (outcomes) towards meeting the goals under each pillar.

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