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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.
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.
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.
September 2022 progress update
Since we released Ontario’s forest sector strategy, we are implementing actions that focus on:
- increased wood utilization
- burden reduction
- cost competitiveness
- Indigenous partnerships and capacity building
- workforce development
- growing markets
September 2023 progress update
Since our September 2022 update, we:
- Launched a new $19.6 million Forest Biomass Program in June 2023. The program will help develop untapped economic potential and environmental benefits of new and emerging uses of forest biomass, mainly underutilized forest resources and mill by-products.
- Shared almost $60 million in forestry resource revenues with 40 First Nations and Métis communities. We also provided funding for 8 Indigenous community-led projects in 2022-2023 to increase their participation in the forest sector, promote career pathways and build Indigenous business capacity.
- Encouraged the use of wood in construction through:
- direct support for Ontario manufacturers
- developing technical guides
- knowledge transfer and research
- amending Ontario’s Building Code to allow the increased use of wood in midrise buildings
- Collaborated with Forests Ontario and the Ontario Forest Industries Association to develop Bridging the Gap, a research project about the forestry labour shortage.
- Proposed revisions to 3 regulated manuals under the Crown Forest Sustainability Act to modernize and streamline the forest management planning and wood measurement processes. This will enable better use of modern tools and technology and increase access to information.
- Collected about 360,000 km2 of light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data for Ontario’s managed forests. This data will support the production of LiDAR enhanced forest resource inventories, which will help inform the forest management plans that will be implemented between 2028 and 2037.
- Supported the protection of boreal caribou and their habitat through a $29 million investment in habitat restoration, protection and other conservation activities, including monitoring, science and research.
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
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 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
Forest Biomass Program
The Forest Biomass Program focuses on supporting innovative initiatives that secure and increase long-term wood utilization across the province, with a focus on underutilized species and forest biomass.
Application intake for 2023 has closed.
- The Forest Sector Strategy Committee is supporting the development and implementation of Sustainable Growth: Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy. Working collaboratively, the committee provides 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.