University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Stewards of Our Forests

Forest certification promotes sustainable practices

Haliburton Forest was the first of 10 forests in Canada (which collectively total 304,435 acres) to be “certified” as a sustainable forest by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The concept of certification originated with the late-1980s conservation movement, when environmentalists, frustrated by slow government response to the deteriorating state of forests worldwide, decided that a program of voluntary compliance with sustainable practices would address threats to biodiversity.

The result was the formation of the FSC in 1993, which has more than 500 members in 48 countries and sets criteria to certify environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forests worldwide. Certification criteria cover a wide range of values from compliance with the law to the impact of “cuts” on an ecosystem. FSC standards, which are assessed by independent auditors, also address unique regional needs. Haliburton Forest, for example, is home to one of the few remaining tracts of red spruce in Ontario. As part of the certification process, Schleifenbaum had to include research proposals in his management plan to study and regenerate the species.

In Canada, some 900 communities are primarily economically dependent on forests. Sustainable practices will liberate workers from forestry’s vicious boom-and-bust cycle.

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