A major step to increase the similarity between natural and managed forest landscapes has been agreed after collaborative discussions between a group of Canadian forest products companies and leading environmental organizations.

Forestry companies belonging to the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) have committed to using a management approach that comes closer to recreating natural landscapes. This involves using knowledge about the structure and compositions of ecosystems to guide forest management activities – in effect, taking our cues from nature.  It includes harvesting in patterns that more closely resemble the impact of fire, winds, insects and other natural disturbances. This is what we call natural range of variation (NRV). “The development of science-based guidelines for implementing natural range of variation principles is a significant step toward realizing an ecosystem-based approach to forest stewardship in the CBFA tenures. These areas are key contributors to the integrity of boreal systems in Canada.” says Dr. Fiona Schmiegelow, Chair of the Science Committee and Senior Science Advisor to the CBFA. A built-in evaluation process has been included so that new knowledge, for example around climate change, as well as social and economic considerations, will be continually incorporated into the approach.

Successful implementation of this blueprint for managing forests to the natural range of variation requires the effective involvement of the public, governments, and indigenous peoples.  The forest industry companies involved will submit this approach as technical input to the provincial forest management planning processes that they are already part of, and will also seek further dialogue.

This is a voluntary commitment by the FPAC forest products companies that is on top of their commitment to sustainable forest management certification. This NRV blueprint was initiated under the auspices of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and is considered a major step towards its goal of making Canada a world leader in sustainable forest management. The management approach is already being implemented in some areas of Canada’s boreal forest; this commitment will significantly accelerate and broaden its use by FPAC member companies across 73 million hectares of boreal forest (see map).

Details about the natural range of variation approach committed to can be found in “Forestry Requirements for Natural Range of Variation (NRV) Analysis and Target Setting.  CBFA, 2015.”

Other documents developed to help inform the discussions that lead to this commitment include:

  • Status Report on Ecosystem-based Management (EBM): Policy Barriers and Opportunities for EBM in Canada. KBM Resources Group, 2014“ – an examination of the implementation of ecosystem-based management in Canada’s boreal forest; and
  • “Towards a Natural Range of Variation (NRV) Strategy for the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – Report Summary. CBFA, 2015”– a summary of information provided by an Independent Science Advisory Team on the use of the natural range of variation in forests to guide forestry activities.

The forestry companies who have made this commitment are:

Alberta Pacific Forest Industries Inc.
AV Group
Canfor Pulp Limited Partnership
Canfor Corporation
Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company
DMI (Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.)
Fortress Paper Ltd.
Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Corporation
Kruger Inc.
LP Canada
Mercer International
Millar Western Forest Products Ltd.
Resolute Forest Products
Tembec Inc.
Tolko Industries
West Fraser Timber Co. and
Weyerhaeuser Company Ltd.

Participating environmental organizations include:

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society
Ivey Foundation
The Nature Conservancy
TNC Canada
International Boreal Conservation Campaign
Schad Foundation