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Canada and the International Model Forest Network

The International Model Forest Network (IMFN) is a voluntary global community of practice whose members and supporters work toward the sustainable management of forest-based landscapes and natural resources.

A stylistic deciduous tree beside a stylistic coniferous tree with a dark green background.
Logo of the International Model Forest Network.

A Model Forest is a:

  • large-scale landscape encompassing many different land uses;
  • partnership-based approach to sustainable forest management (SFM)
  • long-term process that adheres to a broad set of principles to promote sustainability for the Model Forest approach

The IMFN focuses on topics such as climate change, forest landscape restoration, wildland fire management and carbon accounting.

The Model Forest approach

The Model Forest approach shifts forest value from solely being about timber to a vision where social, environmental, economic and cultural benefits, as well as trade-offs are equally considered.

The Government of Canada first developed and implemented the Model Forest approach in the early 1990s at 10 sites across the country. The approach responded to competing priorities in the forest sector and promoted a neutral, consensus-based forum. Many groups helped identify and advance shared interests to manage forests and landscapes sustainably. These groups included environmentalists, governments, Indigenous peoples, academia, communities and industry.

Sustainable management criteria and indicators

Model Forests were pilot sites for the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) to develop local level criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management (SFM). The CFS shares its SFM expertise to help with the development of SFM criteria and indicator processes with other countries that have Model Forests.

Global network structure

Global and domestic forests continue to face pressures from changing land-use and competing priorities. The original 10 initiatives have grown into a global network of more than 60 Model Forests in 35 countries. Model Forests exist on five continents and encompass over 70 million hectares of diverse forest ecosystems and landscapes.

With its network structure and commitment to knowledge exchange and capacity building, the IMFN shares and refines Canadian forest science, standards and expertise. CFS expertise in wildland fire and carbon budget modelling has been shared with countries including Costa Rica and China through Model Forests.

International forest cooperation furthers Canada’s expertise and environmental reputation while also improving our own tools and understanding of forest dynamics.

IMFN Secretariat

The CFS hosts the IMFN Secretariat in Ottawa. Since 1995, the Secretariat has provided the central day-to-day coordination of support and development services to the global network.

The IMFN Secretariat works horizontally across the Government of Canada. Connections with Global Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Natural Resources Canada create synergies to achieve broader priorities. This collaboration includes work in Canada and abroad, such as Inclusive Government, Environment and Climate Action, and International Feminist Policy. Outcomes contribute to several sustainable development goals of our government.

Have questions?

For more information, please contact the IMFN Secretariat.

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