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Policy and legislation

International agreements

In 1992, Canada adopted five international agreements that are directly or indirectly related to biodiversity conservation:

  • Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
  • Agenda 21 is a plan adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. It addresses conservation of forest biodiversity. For example, in Chapter 11 it calls for combating deforestation by ensuring that the multiple roles and functions of all types of forests, forest lands and woodlands are sustained
  • Convention on Biological Diversity has three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has as its main objective “to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.” Links between Earth’s climate and the fundamental role biodiversity plays in the carbon cycle make the UNFCCC an important tool for conserving forest biodiversity
    One UNFCCC implementation mechanism is the framework for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in Developing Countries. REDD provides incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks
  • Forests Principles

National commitments

Canada first committed to sustainable forest management in its 1992 National Forest Strategy. Renewed every five years, the strategy identifies priorities such as forest ecosystem classification, protection of representative forested areas, and the development of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers’ Criteria and Indicator framework to measure success in sustainable forest management.

To support the Convention on Biological Diversity, federal, provincial and territorial governments collaborated to establish the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy in 1995. Key objectives include establishing protected areas and improved forest management.


Provinces and territories manage their own natural resources, including forests, except on federal lands, such as First Nations lands and national parks. Each province and territory sets the policies, legislation and other regulatory matters for its own resources.

The forest mandate of the federal government includes:

  • managing the forests on its own lands
  • managing international trade and relations, enforcing environmental regulation (e.g., Species at Risk Act)
  • coordinating responsibility for healthy forests
  • increasing Aboriginal participation
  • reporting under national and international obligations

The federal government is also responsible for several forest-related laws:

Industry obligations

Forest industries are also important contributors to sustainable forest management.

Companies with long-term licences to provincial or territorial forest land must submit sustainable forest management plans, demonstrating that their future activities respect all legislation and regulations.

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