Biological Diversity Ecosystem Condition and Productivity Soil and Water Role in Global Ecological Cycles Economic and Social Benefits Society's Responsibility
Economic and Social Benefits Distribution of Benefits Sustainability of Benefits
Indicator 5.2.1 - Forest area by timber tenure Indicator 5.2.2 - Distribution of financial benefits from the timber products industry
5.2 Distribution of Benefits
Sustainable forest management involves economic development and it is important to understand how the management control of this development and the benefits from development are distributed in society. An examination of forest ownership and timber tenures and of the distribution of key financial benefits provides important indicators of social equity.

Ninety-three percent of Canada’s forest land is owned by the Crown, but facilities for harvesting and processing wood are, for the most part, privately owned. Allowing private extraction of the forest resource while ensuring that public resource management and development objectives are achieved has always been one of the key forest policy issues in Canada. Forest tenures are the agreements that have been developed to achieve this goal.

Most forest operations in Canada take place in regions located on or near Aboriginal traditional territories that are subject to Aboriginal rights, title, or treaty considerations. Consideration of traditional and cultural Aboriginal values that are tied to these forests is important to sustainable forest management. Furthermore, providing access to forest tenure to Aboriginal peoples can help them regain a role in forest management and reestablish the importance that forests have played in their economies.

Indicator 5.2.1 describes the distribution of the control of forest-related benefits from provincial and federal crown (public) land. Nearly two thirds of the crown forest land in Canada that is under some form of tenure is under volume-based agreements, while the rest is under long-term area agreements. New tenure types have been introduced since 1990, often to improve access to forest resources for small- and medium-sized enterprises, and communities. The share of timber volumes allocated to Aboriginal peoples through forest tenures varies greatly across the country, ranging from no such allocation in some provinces to a high of 30% in the Northwest Territories.

The distribution of financial benefits from the forest sector to labor, forestry businesses, and governments is an important indicator of the social sustainability of forestry. Indicator 5.2.2, which reports on this distribution, clearly shows that each of the three groups of financial benefit recipients shares significant benefits. Wages and salaries were fairly stable between 1990 and 2002, especially in the paper and allied industries subsector, while corporate profits experienced highly cyclical patterns. Taxes paid by corporations to governments have also typically tracked these business cycles, while stumpage payments have followed forest product prices.

Despite this broad distribution of economic benefits from the forest sector in Canadian society, additional gains will likely be made through the new tenure arrangements mentioned previously that will facilitate the involvement of communities and Aboriginal peoples in forest management. These will help to stabilize forest-dependent communities through the sustainable use of their local and regional resources.