FSC-Certified Forestlands in Ontario Top 10 Million Acres

FSC-Certified Forestlands in Ontario Top 10 Million Acres

Scientific Certification Systems has certified 2.8 million acres of Nipissing Forest as "well managed," according to Forest Stewardship Council rules.

With this latest addition, over 10 million acres of forestlands, located near North Bay, Ontario, now meet internationally recognized standards for responsible forest management. Across North America and around the world, approximately 24 million acres and 93 million acres, respectively, have been certified by organizations like Scientific Certification Systems on behalf of the FSC.

“As the licensee for the Nipissing Forest, we have a duty and responsibility to the citizens of Ontario and all of Canada to manage these lands in a sustainable manner,” said Peter Street, general manager, Nipissing Forest Resource Management, Inc. “Receiving third-party certification of our forest management operations demonstrates to the community, our employees, and the public at large that we’re providing for a well-managed forest,” said Street.

As part of certification, an interdisciplinary team of natural resource specialists was assembled by SCS to conduct a detailed evaluation. The team collected and analyzed written materials, completed a two-day on-site scoping evaluation, conducted interviews, and completed a seven-day field audit of the subject property. Upon completion of the fact-finding phase of the evaluation, the team assigned performance scores to 47 individual criteria, spanning nine FSC principles, in order to determine whether award of certification was warranted. SCS generally grants certification for a period of five years. Annual onsite audits are required to maintain certified status. SCS may also conduct short-notice inspections of facilities and records anytime throughout the year. The public summary portion of the certification report is available on the SCS Web site.

The certified portions of the Nipissing Forest are managed by NFRM under license from the provincial government. Company responsibilities include all aspects of forest management planning, forest operations, forest renewal activities, monitoring, reporting and self-compliance audits. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources staff conduct spot-checks of NFRM’s management activities to ensure that the company is in compliance with relevant provincial legislation and those regulations and guidelines applying to forest management on Crown lands in Ontario.

“We applaud Nipissing for their hard work and dedication to achieving certification, especially during a time when forest managers are balancing competing demands for people and resources,” said Jim McCarthy, executive director, FSC Canada. “With certified forestlands in Ontario and elsewhere growing at an astonishing rate, the FSC is demonstrating that its forest certification program has entered mainstream thinking. We thank companies like Nipissing for promoting responsible forest management around the world,” said McCarthy.

As part of the evaluation, the interdisciplinary team identified strengths, weaknesses, and areas needing improvement. Key strengths, for example, included demonstrated efforts and a sustained commitment to including First Nations in forest management planning and operations. The company has also been proactive in discussions and negotiations with the public to prevent disputes over conflicting forest uses. Also, the evaluation team found that Nipissing’s highly experienced and knowledgeable staff contributes to conservation of environmental values. As part of certification, Nipissing is required to make certain changes in the management of the forest. One such example is a requirement to develop a formal program to better identify and document native values in areas where forest operations are scheduled to occur.

“Nipissing has shown leadership in the forest management arena by opening its operations to outside review and scrutiny, said Dr. Robert Hrubes, SCS’s senior vice president and a registered professional forester. “By awarding certification, SCS is confirming that Nipissing’s management and employees are responsible stewards of the land that are worthy of the public’s attention,” said Hrubes.