Balancing the Relationship Between Protection and Sustainable Management in Canada’s Boreal Forest
Protection and sustainable forest management are related but unique, with protection focusing on minimising risk to ecosystems and sustainable management emphasising economic development. Given these distinct roles, a defining characteristic of the relationship between the two approaches is their relative abundance and distribution. The relationship is currently imbalanced, with only 12% of Canada allocated to protection, indicating that ecological values have historically been traded off in favour of resource production. The intactness of Canada’s boreal forest provides an opportunity for a more holistic approach that conserves its globally significant environmental attributes while also supporting resource production.
The Boreal Forest Conservation Framework proposes a balanced relationship that allocates land approximately equally between protection and sustainable management. It is a framework that has been endorsed by industry, Aboriginal, and conservation organisations, and is supported by conservation science. Recent commitments to comprehensive land-use planning at regional scales are consistent with the collaborative approach promoted by the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, and suggest that conservation objectives are likely to receive increased attention in Canada’s boreal region relative to recent history. Ensuring that land-use planning is proactive and balanced will be essential to forging a cooperative relationship between sustainable management and protection in the region.