Only days after a new Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry took office, the Ontario government proposed two measures to address stakeholder concerns about species at risk legislation and its relationship to forest operations.

The government has posted a proposal to extend “the current regulatory approach to Crown forestry” for a two-year timeframe. In effect, the proposal would extend an exemption that currently applies to forest operations in managed Crown forests (which meet certain conditions). The exemption is set to expire on July 1, 2018.

(An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to an extension of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act. In fact, the proposed extension applies to a regulation related to the Endangered Species Act. The Working Forest apologizes for the error.)

The province is also proposing to create an independent, expert panel to provide advice on a long-term solution for species at risk in Ontario’s managed Crown forests. This panel would include representatives from northern municipalities, Indigenous leaders, scientists and forestry practitioners.

The proposal is open for public comment until Mar. 5.

“Our government has listened to the concerns of northern municipalities, Indigenous communities, environmental organizations and the forest industry – and we want to find a solution which strikes the right balance as we deal with the negative effects of climate change. This new proposal, with a two-year regulation extension for forestry, will allow us to continue to uphold Ontario’s high standards of sustainable forest management and protection for species at risk while we find a solution that is right for Ontario,” Nathalie Des Rosiers, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, said in a media statement.

The independent, expert panel will work to identify innovative local approaches and potential pilot projects for consideration as part of the development of the province’s long-term approach to protecting species at risk and their habitat while minimizing impacts to the forest industry.