Unit 2 - The History of Forest Use and Management

Lesson 9: Leasing and Sharing the Forest

Leasing: In order to create partnerships with industry, the Alberta government instituted "Forest Management Agreements," also known as the FMAs. The first Forest Management Agreement in Alberta was signed in the early 1950s between the Province and the "North Western Pulp and Power Ltd." 

Forest Management Agreements provide companies with the right to harvest trees on crown land. The company is required to develop a forest management plan and specific operating plans. The company is also responsible for building and maintaining their own roads and for paying timber dues and fees to the Province. We will study forest management plans in more detail later in the course.

Sharing: During the 1960s, it became evident that Canada's forests were of great interest to many different users, not just timber companies. These other forest users included mining companies, oil and gas companies, hunters and trappers, recreational users, and Indigenous people. By the late 1970s, resource use conflicts had become more frequent as the forest industry came into greater contact with other forest users. Here are some examples:

  • On the British Columbia coast there were growing conflicts with fishermen who were anxious to protect the spawning grounds of fish.

  • In the northern forest, there were conflicts with Indigenous people who depended on forests for food and furs.

  • There were conflicts with those who used the forests for recreational activities.

In order to better manage these disputes, a forest management principle known as "multiple-use" came into existence. Multiple-use was based on the belief that the forest resource could be shared by all users, both consumptive and nonconsumptive. In practice, however, the concept of "multiple use" did not work and did little to resolve land-use conflicts. Canada's forests were simply not capable of accommodating all of the different demands being placed on them at the same time. In other words, a certain forest could not be all things to all people because some uses were simply not compatible with other uses. For example, timber harvesting and oil and gas exploration negatively affected a forest's ability to provide opportunities for recreation.