Forest File - January 2004

FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANNING MANUAL REVISION UNDERWAY
ROADS AND WATER CROSSING REPORT RELEASED
LCC SNAPSHOT: KAPUSKASING LOCAL CITIZENS' COMMITTEE
FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANS UNDER PREPARATION FOR 2004, 2005 AND 2006
FSC ASSESSMENT UNDERWAY FOR CERTIFICATION OF ROMEO MALETTE AND SMOOTH ROCK FALLS FORESTS
CSA CERTIFICATION BEING SOUGHT FOR IROQUOIS FALLS AND NIGHTHAWK FORESTS
RECOVERY STRATEGY FOR ONTARIO'S WOODLAND CARIBOU




FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANNING MANUAL REVISION UNDERWAY

The 60 day clock started ticking on public comments on a new forest management planning manual when the Ministry of Natural Resources released the draft document and issued a public notice on November 21, 2003. Comments were due on January 20, 2004.

Fundamental changes from the current (1996) version of the planning manual are being proposed in the 480 page draft document, both to the forest management planning system and its associated public consultation programs. A major reorganization of the manual also meant there were few shortcuts available to those interested in comparing the current manual to the new draft.

The Forest Management Planning Manual (FMPM) is one of four manuals required by the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA) to guide various aspects of forest management in Ontario. Forest management plans set out the forest management activities to be carried out including provision of access, timber harvest, forest renewal, tending and protection treatments.

The Ministry of Natural Resources notice of review described the purpose of the revisions to the manual:

Change from Five Year to Ten Year Plans

Indeed, one of the key changes to the forest management planning system, as outlined in the draft manual, is the change from a five year plan to a ten year plan with two operating periods. Management directions, objectives, harvest areas and roads will all be identified for a ten year period, with a review at Year 5 to confirm harvest areas and roads for the second 5 year period. A new decision point has been introduced at Year 3 when the Regional Director will determine whether the long term management direction set during the plan's developmen t is still appropriate for the second 5 year term. Interestingly, the manual does not include any requirement for public input into that decision, or for the decision to include an evaluation of forest sustainability or the achievement of plan objectives

Another area of considerable change is with road planning. Road categories have been redefined, with the old "primary, secondary and tertiary roads" replaced by Primary, Branch and Operational roads, with several changes to the planning requirements, such as corridor width and evaluation of alternatives. Road Management Strategies and "Responsibility assignments" are two concepts which are introduced but not detailed in the draft manual.

LCC Submission Outlines Concerns

MNR received 38 submissions on the draft manual, including a set of consolidated comments by Local Citizens Committee members from 7 LCCs who responded to an invitation extended last fall by Northwatch's Forest Project to contribute to an LCC review of the draft. The LCC submission outlined a number of concerns, including concerns about the review process and its timing, the proposed changes to roads planning, the removal of FMP Table 2 which allows a comparison of forest working groups from one plan to the next, changes to the notice given for the review of minor amendments, concerns about the requirements for socio-economic evaluations and descriptions, changes to the composition and operation of Local Citizen Committees, and with respect to the public consultation process and the issue resolution and bump-up provisions. (Contact the Forest Project for a copy)

The Environmental Assessment Act Declaration Order requires MNR to propose a revised Forest Management Planning Manual by June 24, 2004.The new manual will be in effect for plans being developed for April 1, 2007.
 


ROADS AND WATER CROSSING REPORT RELEASED

A major report on road use and liability, released in early December, has been accepted by MNR and its conclusions assigned to different Ministry branches for implementation.

The Forest Roads and Water Crossings Initiative - Task Team Report (FRWCI) focused on how to assess and assign liability and responsibility for management and planning of forest roads and water crossings on Crown land. Produced by a joint steering committee of the forest industry and the Ministry of Natural Resources, a number of the report's conclusions were incorporated into the draft of the revised Forest Management Planning Manual.

Copies are available online at http://ontariosforests.mnr.gov.on.ca/ publications.cfm#ebrproposals or by calling 1 800 667 1940.
 


LCC SNAPSHOT: KAPUSKASING LOCAL CITIZENS' COMMITTEE

The Kapuskasing LCC had a great headstart as members of the Community 6/70 Forest, a community forest pilot project funded by the provincial government.

Representatives from 6 communities within 70 miles along the Highway 11 corridor gathered on a monthly basis to discuss forest management as well as the enhancement of tourism and wildlife habitat. The Community 6/70 Forest was involved in several projects including annual moose tag allocations, fish population studies and snowmobile trail development. The group dissolved in the fall of 1997, but certain opportunities remained. Since membership duties had included fulfilling the role of the Local Citizen's Committee, it only made sense for the OMNR to invite the Community 6/70 Forest members to continue as members of the Kapuskasing LCC, since the 2000-2020 Gordon Cosens forest management plan was rapidly approaching.

The total area of the Gordon Cosens Forest spans over 2 million hectares of land and water, representing the largest management unit in the province. Spruce Falls Inc. holds the Sustainable Forest License, with an annual harvest allocation of 758, 000 cubic metres of conifer.

The Kapuskasing - Hearst area is about twenty times more dependent on the forest industry, relative to the province's overall average. The area's dependence on the forestry industry became dramatically evident when Kimberly Clark Corp. and the New York Times Company decided to sell their interest in 1991. Mill employees and local residents organized an acquisition group and took advantage of their opportunity to participate in corporate management . The group, along with an industrial partner, successfully bought out the shareholders and LCC chair Jean Simard believes the same community spirit is revealed every month at the Kapuskasing LCC meetings.

Although the Kapuskasing LCC is relatively small, several individuals are long-time members dedicated to a multi-use approach to forest management. The Kapuskasing LCC is especially proud of the recent LCC youth representation. Mr. Simard approached the local high school and discovered that students could receive credit for community involvement. The school agreed that the LCC was a suitable avenue, and a youth representative will be participating in the LCC next autumn.

"It's very important to get the young people involved, to take over for the older members." Mr. Simard is also concerned that the long term members do not feel their dedication is appreciated and that many would like to see their recommendations have more influence on forest management planning decisions. The experience and comprehension of forestry issues among LCC members has been recognized by independent forest auditors and the district MNR, as well as by Spruce Falls Inc.

The Kapuskasing Local Citizens Committee provides advice to MNR on management of the Gordon Cosens Forest. The Committee includes 3 forest industry representatives, members who belong on behalf of the local rod and gun club, the snowmobile association, the trappers' association, and the Town of Kapuskasing, and 2 members of the public.


FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANS UNDER PREPARATION FOR 2004, 2005 AND 2006
 


FSC ASSESSMENT UNDERWAY FOR CERTIFICATION
OF ROMEO MALETTE AND SMOOTH ROCK FALLS FORESTS
 

Tembec is seeking Forest Stewardship Council certification of their forestry practices on the Romeo Malette Forest and Smooth Rock Falls Forests. The assessment is being done using a draft assessment standard for the Canadian boreal.
 

A five person assessment team visited the area in for a week in late January, conducting field visits and community meetings. Comments must be received prior to February 27, 2004 to be taken into consideration in reaching a certification decision, and can be sent by mail, fax or e-mail to Keith Moore, Assessment Team Leader, at Box 1029, Queen Charlotte City, BC, Canada V0T 1S0, Fax - 250-559-8702 or email kmoore@island.net.
 


CSA CERTIFICATION BEING SOUGHT FOR IROQUOIS FALLS AND NIGHTHAWK FORESTS

Abitibi-Consolidated is seeking Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification of their management of the Iroquois Falls and Nighthawk Forests. An MNR approved Forest Management Plan for the Nighthawk Forest is in place for 2003-2023 and a plan is under development for the Iroquois Falls Forest for 2005-2025. According to Abitibi, however, MNR's indicators of sustainability and performance standards don't fully satisfy the requirements of the CSA standard, so a revised Plan was developed to address the gaps. The plan was available for comment until January 9, 2004. The certification audit was done the first week of February. The final plan will be available, including online, on February 20.
 


RECOVERY STRATEGY FOR ONTARIO'S WOODLAND CARIBOU

Many have seen pictures of the massive caribou herds crossing the Arctic tundra, but few have seen the woodland caribou who favour our boreal forests. These cloven-hooved ungulates are medium-sized members of the deer family and are about four feet tall at the shoulder. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has identified the boreal populations of woodland caribou as "threatened", which represents a national concern. These forest-dwelling caribou have been identified as a distinct type of caribou. Barren ground or tundra populations of caribou are considered stable or increasing.

The range of Ontario woodland caribou has retracted northwards, a trend that seems to have started during the early 1900s. Several driving factors have been proposed including forestry practices, human activities (i.e.: recreational road use, hunting, etc.), and predators.

Woodland caribou demonstrate a high level of sensitivity to changes that occur on a landscape scale, and this sensitivity makes it difficult to deliver management strategies. According to historical records, these animals do not tend to form large herds such as the tundra caribou. Sightings of woodland caribou typically report groups ranging in size from three to seven individuals and these individuals may require thousands of square kilometers of mature boreal forest. However, a group of approximately 200 has been located in the Detour Lake area, northeast of Cochrane.

The average home range size of woodland caribou in northeastern Ontario is 4026 km2 (Brown et. al. 2003). Extensive traveling through the forests offers protection from wolves and a greater chance of coming across an important food item; lichen. Woodland caribou depend on lichen, a plant associated with late-successional coniferous forests, for winter survival.

While deer and moose rely on a supply of early successional vegetation associated with young forests, woodland caribou rely on mature forests for lichen.

Recovery teams are currently developing management strategies to maintain the woodland caribou across the Ontario boreal forest, as well as across Canada. Recovery teams facilitate important collaborations between a variety of groups, including the forestry industry. Such efforts are necessary to ensure remaining woodland caribou are not lost or pushed further north.

A Provincial Recovery Team was established in early 2002, with the goals of maintaining self-sustaining caribou populations and ensuring the security of isolated populations where they currently exist, and re-establishing caribou in strategically selected locations. The Ministry of Natural Resources established a multi-stakeholder Provincial Woodland Caribou Recovery Advisory Committee to take part in this initiative, which includes industry, trappers, tourist operators, environmental organizations, hunting groups, academics, and municipalities.

A Northeast Region Woodland Caribou Task Team was initiated in mid-2001 to develop a management strategy for the conservation of forest-dwelling woodland caribou and their habitat. The primary goal of the regional caribou strategy is to stop any further range recession, and maintain occupancy of current woodland caribou range.

Brown, G.S., Mallory, F.F., and Rettie, W.J. 2003. in press. Range size and seasonal movement for female woodland caribou in the boreal forest of northeastern Ontario. Rangefer Spec. Issue No. 14
 


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