Unit 2 - The History of Forest Use and Management

Lesson 5: Conservationism

The forest conservationist movement first came to North America from Europe and Asia — areas of the world that had already experienced the negative consequences of deforestation. Society had started to realize that forests were valuable both as a source of building materials and as a source of public funds. As such, forests needed to be protected — not only from settlers, but also from fire, insects, and disease. By the end of the 1800s, conservation ideals had given birth to a radical new concept — the idea of using science-based management to ensure that the forests could continue to be a source of timber, clean water, fish, wildlife, and recreation for generations to come.

By this time, Canada was no longer a colony of Great Britain, but a sovereign nation. Ownership of Canada's forests had since passed from the British Crown to the Canadian government, who now took necessary steps to ensure that timber on federal lands was preserved and that reforestation be encouraged in settled areas. The role of the forest in enriching quality of life was also beginning to be understood. As result, the first Canadian parks were created, beginning with Banff National Park in 1887.