In Saskatchewan, the government and industry work to engage citizens in the management of publicly-owned forests. The government ensures sustainable forest management through long-term strategic forest management plans for certain types of forest tenures.
What we are doing
The Forest Resources Management Act requires the holder of a forest management agreement (FMA) to develop a forest management plan (FMP) that covers 20 years. FMPs help ensure sustainability and balance social, economic and environmental values. An approved FMP is required for FMA licence holders to operate.
The Forest Management Planning Standard of the Saskatchewan Environmental Code guides development of FMPs. This standard, among other things, outlines comprehensive requirements for industry to demonstrate how it has engaged with other forest users, Indigenous communities and the public.
What constitutes public/stakeholder engagement is largely left to the proponent's discretion and varies by the proponent. Examples of the types of engagement are open houses, public advisory group meetings, FMP public meetings, operating plan consultation meetings, field tours, documented communications, phone calls or individual invitation letters that are evidence of the opportunity to attend such meetings.
From 2009 to 2018, opportunities for public and stakeholder engagement have generally increased. While the overall number of opportunities is trending upwards, this is mainly due to FMP development engagement, it is anticipated that once FMPs are completed the numbers will stabilize. All major licensees have recently concluded development on a 20-Year FMP. FMPs take two years to complete and require public and stakeholder engagement. FMPs are redeveloped every 10 years. Additionally, licensees engage with the public and stakeholders in the development and approval of their (annual) operating plans.
Why it matters
Stakeholders such as outfitters, trappers, recreation users, hunters, gatherers, environmental groups, leaseholders, First Nations and Métis communities, municipalities, resource developers and other governmental departments provide valuable information and perspectives. Stakeholder input can help to mitigate the potential for conflict, improve transparency, provide for greater accountability and ensures the best possible forest management and policy decisions.
Licensees have a wide variety of management areas and diverse numbers of stakeholders. It is unsuitable to compare the number of engagement opportunities between licensees. In their FMP, each licensee is required to establish a target for the number of public and engagement opportunities and to report on their performance annually.