3.0 The Forest Management Planning Process
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Developing a Forest Management Plan
3.3 The First Five Years: Phase I of the 10-year Forest Management Plan
3.3.1 Organizing for Planning (Stage 0)
3.3.2 Invitation to Participate (Stage 1)
3.3.3 Proposed Long-Term Management Direction (Stage 2)
3.3.4 Planning of Proposed Operations (Stage 3)
3.3.5. Draft Plan (Stage 4)
3.3.6. Final Approval of the Forest Management Plan (Stage 5)
3.4 Another Five Years: Phase II of a Ten-Year Forest Management Plan
3.4.1 Planning of Proposed Operations (Stage 1)
3.4.2 Preparation and Review of the Draft Planned Operations (Stage 2)
3.4.3 Final Approval of Planned Operations (Stage 3)
3.5 Public Involvement
3.5.1 Overview
3.5.2 Issue Resolution
3.5.3 Requests for an Individual Environmental Assessment (Bump-Ups)
3.6 Aboriginal Involvement

3.0 The Forest Management Planning Process

3.1 Introduction

Developing a forest management plan is, from the perspective of all involved, a major undertaking. Average time for development is estimated at 21 months, and it involves a number of stages, lots of background research, and lots of involvement and effort on the part of the Local Citizens Committee, the forest industry, and the Ministry of Natural Resources. The general public also has important roles to play, as do other government agencies and other interests, including the tourism and recreation industries and Aboriginal communities.
The forest management plan is developed in several stages, and each of the stages has a number of tasks that must be done, and deadlines that must be met. The Forest Management Planning Manual describes these in detail, with other MNR training materials and technical notes providing additional direction. 
“The primary goal in every forest management plan is to achieve a healthy, sustainable forest ecosystem, which is vital to the well-being of forest based, as well as non-forest based, Ontario communities.
There were a number of major changes made to the Forest Management Planning Manual in 2004. The first plans to be developed using the new planning system, as described in the 2004 manual, were scheduled for approval on April 1, 2007. In northeastern Ontario, the Hearst and Big Pic forests were the first to be developed under the new manual, and are among those approved April 1, 2007. Two other plans in the northeast - the Nighthawk and White River forests - are scheduled for approval April 1, 2008. Year by year, planning participants in the northeast are gaining experience with the new manual, some of which the Nipissing Local Citizens Committee will be able to draw on as the forest management plan for 2009-2029 is developed for the Nipissing Forest.

3.2 Developing a Forest Management Plan

Forest management plans are developed in a series of stages. The development and implementation of a forest management plan can be likened to planning for a major trip - so think of it as an adventure!

The first step is to decide that, indeed, you are going on a trip! Then, pick a destination, and do some research into the kind of travel options that are available, the kind of travel experience others have had, and the history of the area.  Next, think about the kind of trip you want to go on - luxury cruise, backpacking, group tour, or car camping? How long do you want to go for, and what do you want to do? How are you going to get there? How will you get around in the local area? Then, after you=ve set your objectives for the trip, done some research to compare different alternative ways of doing what you want to do, you make a detailed itinerary, make all your bookings, and send an email out telling your friends about it and asking if they have any other ideas. A couple of good suggestions come back, so you incorporate them into your travel plans, finalize all of your arrangements, and you are issued your tickets and visas, get your final immunizations, and you’re off! For the next five years, you travel the world, sending back updates and any revisions to your plans at least once a year.
At the end of your trip, you invite everyone over for a ten hour slide show, and compare notes with other travelers on all you saw and did.

But, back to the forest management plan! A couple of things to note about the forest management planning process:
· The process involves a number of stages, each stage builds on the stage before it
· In each stage, there are a number of steps; like the different stages, each step builds on the previous step
· This is an “information heavy” process; that means that there is a lot of data, lots of maps, lots of tables, and lots of paper; it is okay to be selective in what you read _ very few of us will read it all
· Everyone is still learning; asking questions can help others learn with you
 
In 2004, there was a significant change in the approach to forest management planning, with the plan term changing from five years to ten years. Under the previous forest management planning manual, plans had been prepared for a five-year period, within a 20-year planning horizon. Some aspects of the plan, most notably primary roads, had to be forecast twenty years out, but the plan was for a five-year period, and was renewed each five years. This meant that the key decisions were remade every five years, and the fundamental approach was rethought. 
What is a forest management plan?
Forest Management Plans describe how forestry activities are to be done on Crown land. This includes road construction and controls on road use, logging  methods, and forest   regeneration. Forest Management  Plans include strategies for protecting special values such as nesting areas, and plans for follow-up from logging operations, such as tree planting, thinning, and any  use of pesticides. 

Under the new planning approach, plans are made for a 10-year term. Several key elements – planning objectives, harvest levels, and management approach – set the long-term direction of the forest management plan. These are approved during the early stages of developing the first of the two five-year phases which make up the 10-year plan.

Phase I and Phase II are both five year plans and both include operational planning (deciding where logging will occur, where regeneration work will be done, etc.) and both produce a draft plan (called “Draft Planned Operation” in the second Phase). The difference between Phase I and Phase II is that in Phase I the strategic directions are set for the entire 10-year plan (consisting of two five year plans or phases) before operational planning is done, while Phase II involves only the operational planning.

Prior to the beginning of the operational planning for the second five-year phase, the Ministry of Natural Resources will make a decision on whether to allow the forest company to continue planning under the strategic and management directions approved for the 10-year plan.  If there are concerns, MNR may require a plan “renewal”, in which case planning would begin again for a new 10-year plan, and a new Long Term Management Direction would be developed, including new plan objectives and indicators and a new management strategy.

3.3 The First Five Years: Phase I of the 10-year Forest Management Plan


The early stages of Phase I planning lay the groundwork for all of the forest operations that will be carried out over the next ten years. During Stages 1 and 2 of the first phase of planning the strategic directions are developed and approved for both of the five year operational plans (i.e. for Phase I and Phase II).

There are five stages in Phase I planning that have requirements for public involvement and public consultation, but in fact there are six stages to forest management planning in Phase I. Because much of the work begins prior to the first formal stage of public consultation, we begin our description of the planning stages in Phase I of the forest management planning process with a description of Stage Zero!

3.3.1  Organizing for Planning (Stage 0)

 
Before planning - organize for planning! While the forest management planning process is described as having five formal stages, a lot of work happens before the first formal stage. This preparatory work is called “Organizing for Planning” and includes work done by the MNR and the forest industry to update planning and background information that will be used in developing the plan (including  resource values and fish and wildlife inventories, the forest resource inventory, and information about roads and road systems) and reviewing the success of forest regeneration efforts. 
Who is the Plan Author?
A registered professional forester who is responsible for the preparation and certification of the forest management plan.  In the Nipissing Forest, the Plan Author is Mark Lockhart. Mark is a Registered Professional Forester and is an employee of Nipissing Resource Forest Management Inc.

What is the Planning Team?
A multi-disciplinary group appointed by the District Manager to assist in preparing the forest management plan. The Planning Team includes MNR and industry staff and an LCC representative. Members include foresters, biologists, planners, and others with specific expertise. 
During this period a Planning Team is appointed, the Plan Author is selected, and Terms of Reference for the production of the forest management plan are developed. The Local Citizens Committee (LCC) membership is confirmed and the LCC Terms of Reference are  reviewed. The LCC also determines who will be the LCC representative on the Planning Team.  During this period, discussions begin with tourist operators to develop or renew Resource Stewardship Agreements, and all of the background information is assembled and/or verified.

3.3.2 Invitation to Participate (Stage 1)

The first notice to the public that a forest management plan is being developed is issued after all of the background information has been assembled, and the preparatory work has been done which sets the stage for the forest management planning process.

There are several requirements for how the notice is to be issued and what information is to be included in the notice, and what information is to be available for the public to review after the notice has been issued.

The purpose of the notice - and of the public consultation at this point in the plan’s development - is to let the public know that a forest management plan is being developed, and ask the public to provide input into what forest is desired for the future and what benefits might be derived from that desired forest. The public is also asked to contribute any additional information that they feel might be useful in the planning process, and to review the information that the Planning Team has assembled and will be relying on for planning purposes.
The notice will be published in local newspapers, and a letter will be sent to all those interested members of the public who are on the Ministry of Natural Resources mailing list. A notice will also be published on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) electronic registry. These notices will include information about the planning process, a small and very general map showing the area for which a forest management plan is being developed for, and contact information. 
What is the EBR Registry?
The Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) electronic registry is a website that has short descriptions of all of the projects, program, policies and activities about which the provincial government will be making decisions and the public is being invited to provide comments on. Notice about the forest management planning process and its current stage is posted on the EBR registry for each stage of the forest management planning process. Visit the site at www.eco.on.ca/english/registry/index.htm
This stage is the ideal time to get more of the public involved in the forest management planning process, either through the groups that are represented on the LCC or through the other public participation avenues that are open to groups and individuals interested in the state of our local forests. For starters, encourage those you know with an interest to get their names added to the MNR mailing list. It is also a good time to make a presentation to the group you represent on the LCC, letting them know more about what the LCC does, how forest management planning works, and how and why they might want to become more involved. Resources to help you do this are available from the Ministry of Natural Resources, from Nipissing Forest Resource Management Inc., and from Northwatch’s Forest Project.

3.3.3 Proposed Long-Term Management Direction (Stage 2)

This may be the most important stage of the forest management planning process. In developing and setting the Long-Term Management Direction for the Nipissing Forest, the Planning Team will work with the LCC and others through a number of steps, with the end product being a “Long-Term Management Direction” which provides direction for the levels of road access, harvest, renewal and tending to take place.

The first set of steps build on the base of information already collected, and provides the foundation for the planning process. These information steps include developing a description of the condition of the forest, including habitat types, forest types, and special items for consideration, such as any major changes in the landbase or other planning initiatives or recent large fires or windstorms.

The next set of steps relate to the use of computer models. The “strategic analysis” includes a series of decisions related to the computer models that are to be used in the development and the review of the Long Term Management Direction initially and the forest management plan more generally. The “scoping analysis” involves a number of computer modeling exercises which evaluate whether the forest is able to meet current wood supply demands.
Local Citizens Committees are very involved in the next several closely related steps: determining the desired forest and benefits, developing objectives and indicators, developing a management strategy, assessing how well the identified objectives have been achieved, and making a preliminary determination about whether the forest will be sustainable if it is managed according to the Long-Term Management Direction that has been developed.
What is a computer model?
A computer model is a mathematical simulation of real life. In forest management planning, computer models are used to create estimates of wood supply, and of how the forest will change and evolve over time, in response to different conditions (such as different levels of cutting, including not cutting at all)
The Local Citizens Committee and Planning Team, with input from the public, work together to describe their future forest: what will the forest be like, and what benefits will it be able to provide? As part of developing this description, a meeting or workshop is to be held, which looks at the background information about the forest and the context in which the plan is being developed, and gives those participating in the workshop an opportunity to share their interests in the forest and identify their “desired” future forest and the benefits it will provide. Based on the workshop notes, the Planning Team, with input from the LCC, will then refine the description of the desired forest and benefits.

There are three primary information sources for the development of objective and indicators for the forest management plan:
· the output of the desired forests and benefits workshop (i.e. the description of the desired forests and related benefits developed by the LCC and planning team with input from the public),
· the Crown Forest Sustainability Act’s objective categories and required indicators, which are found in Figure A-5 on page A-39 of the Forest Management Planning Manual, and
· objectives in the current approved forest management plan.
 
For each objective, one or more indicators must be identified. An indicator is something that can be measured, and will give some information or indication about whether or not the objective is being met or not (for example, if the objective is to increase the percentage of white pine in the forest management unit, the indicator could be the amount of white pine in the next forest resource inventory). A desired level for each indicator must also be set, and a target established for each objective. The target should be consistent with the desired level, but might not be the same (for example, if the desired level for the amount of white pine is 10% and the current level is 2%, the target in the forest management plan might be 5%). Targets should show progress towards the desired level, even if the targets are lower than the desired level.
Example of a Suite of Objective, Indicator and Target
Objective: Increase the percentage of white pine
Indicator: the amount of white pine
Desired Level: 10%
Target: 5%

The forest management plan must also include strategies to achieve the objectives. The Forest Management Planning Manual doesn=t require that the strategy be included in the discussion of the Long-Term Management Direction, but the strategies must be included somewhere in the plan. Most often, they will be found in the silvicultural ground rules or the forest operating prescriptions.

The next step is the development of a management strategy. This is largely - but not wholly - an exercise in computer modeling. The management strategy is a combination of the types and levels of access, harvest and renewal and tending activities that would be undertaken to manage the forest in such a way as to achieve a balance among the objectives that have been set. The exercise starts with what is called the “base model”, which is similar to a numerical picture of the forest (it includes computer based information about what is in the forest and how it is expected to develop or change over time). Then more information is inputted, representing the objectives that have been developed, and different types and levels of forestry activities, such as harvesting, renewal and tending. Generally, the computer model is run a number of times with slight (or sometimes significant!) adjustments in the information that is being inputted. The end result is what is called the “management strategy”. In the forest management plan, the management strategy will be described in the text of the plan, but there are also four tables which summarize information about the projected condition of the forest (age and species over time), predicted amounts of habitat for certain wildlife species, and the amounts of available harvest by area and by volume.

After the management strategy has been developed, the objectives are again reviewed. This assessment of objective achievement uses the result of the computer modeling done for the management strategy, and evaluates whether or not the objectives are going to be met. Each objective will be evaluated in relation to the indicators, the desired level, and the target. The first question posed is whether the objective is going to be met, and at the desired level. If the objective - or the desired level - is not going to be achieved, questions must be asked about how big the gap is between the desired level and the expected outcome of the management strategy, and about why the objective and/or desired level is not being achieved. Is it because of the current forest condition (for example, reduced wood supply)? Is it because of competing objectives? Is there any trend that can be seen in the failure to meet objectives or targets?

Some objectives and indicators - such as those which are specific to locations which might be affected by the proximity of harvesting activities or roads - will be assessed after preferred harvest areas have been identified. Criteria to identify areas that can reasonably be expected to be harvested within the 10-year period of the forest management plan are developed to be consistent with the management strategy and with the Guide on the Emulation of Natural Disturbance Patterns.

After all of these steps, the big question is posed for the first time: based on the Long-Term Management Direction that has been developed, will the forest management plan be sustainable?
 
Called a preliminary determination of sustainability, the package of objectives, indicators, targets and management strategy are reviewed, asking questions that are similar to those asked during the assessment of objective achievement, but from the perspective of forest sustainability. The key question: How does the Long-Term Management Direction provide for the sustainability of the Crown forest? This assessment is done by the Planning Team, and then presented to the Local Citizens Committee
What is forest sustainability?
The Crown Forest Sustainability Act defines sustainability as “long term Crown Forest health”, which it defines as “the condition of a forest ecosystem that sustains the ecosystems complexity while providing for the needs of the people of Ontario”.

Two more steps remain: primary road corridors are identified, and a summary of the Long-Term Management Direction is produced.

The summary of the Long-Term Management Direction is produced at the end of Stage 2. The report is to be written in clear and plain language, and its release is the first opportunity the public has to review and comment on the overall approach and the direction that is being taken in the development of the forest management plan.

At the end of Stage 2, there is a public notice that the summary of the Long-Term Management Direction is available for public review. There is no requirement for an open house or information centre, but of course the option is always there to provide more involvement for the public than the required minimum. Several maps and background reports are made available to the public for the 30-day comment period, including a summary report of the activities of the Local Citizens Committee. The Local Citizens Committee can recommend that there be additional public consultation.

3.3.4 Planning of Proposed Operations (Stage 3)

The first step in Stage 3 is to get the Ministry of Natural Resources’ endorsement of the Long-Term Management Direction that was developed in Stage 2. MNR regional and district staff will review the Long-Term Management Direction package, and any comments received from the public during the 30-day public review. Based on this review, the MNR may require modifications to the Long-Term Management Direction; if so, the MNR must provide a list of the required modifications and the reason for each change they are requiring within 15 days after the deadline for public comment.

The Plan Author - working with the Planning Team - makes the necessary modifications. These may be slight adjustments or it may mean considerable work depending on the changes being required. In most cases any major concerns that the MNR may identify are raised before the public review but the potential is there for the MNR to require further modifications after the public review. This is most likely to be the case if the public review identifies new or additional issues that were not considered by the Ministry prior to the public review period.

After the required modifications are made (if any are required) the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Regional Director gives a preliminary endorsement. This means that planning can proceed based on the assumptions and approaches set out in the Long-Term Management Direction “with some certainty”. It does not mean that no changes can be made in the future to the Long-Term Management Direction, but it does mean that changes are unlikely to be made unless there are major changes in the information being used or in the assumptions that were used in the modeling.

Using the now-endorsed Long-Term Management Direction, planning next focuses on proposed operations: harvesting, renewal and tending, areas of concern planning, and roads. The final step in this stage is called the “determination of sustainability”.

The level of allowable or sustainable harvest has been determined in the previous stage, and areas that are eligible for harvesting (i.e. the areas where harvesting operations may take place) were also identified. In this next stage of the planning process, specific locations for forestry operations are identified for the 10 year period, and detailed operational planning is done for those areas where harvesting is going to take place in the first five year term.

Public comments from Stage 2 are considered in selecting the harvest areas during operational planning. The selected areas are to match the projections done in the previous stage of planning and should be balanced between the two five-year periods (of the 10-year plan).
More detailed planning is done for the first five-year period of operations. Large clearcuts will be identified and a rationale written for any larger than 260 hectares. Silvicultural ground rules will be developed that will match the cutting system and follow-up treatment with each forest type, based on forest unit and eco-site combinations.
What is a forest unit?
A forest unit is a way of classifying the forest, grouping stands of similar tree species.
Areas will also be identified for renewal and tending activities,including site preparation (such as scarifying the ground to expose the soil to seed sources), planting, thinning, and applying herbicides. The types and levels of the renewal and tending activities will be identified for the 10-year planning period, and levels will be proposed for the first five years. However, the more detailed planning will be done later, during plan implementation, in the annual work schedule.
Planning for areas of concern is also done during this stage. Where operations may affect non-timber values, Areas of Concern are identified. Prescriptions are developed for these areas of concern in order to prevent, minimize or mitigate any negative effects.
What is an Area of Concern?
An area of concern is an area that receives special attention or special treatment or protection during a logging operation. Examples include nests, streams, or cabins. (see Section 6.5 for more detail)
All important non-timber values are supposed to be identified and included in an inventory. For every one of these values, an Area of Concern is identified. This is usually a buffer of some width around the value. A prescription or course of action is then developed to protect the value. Several forest management guides provide direction on how the prescriptions are to be developed, and what kind of protection is to be given. Generally, the protection means that there is no cutting for a certain distance from the value, or only modified cutting. These restrictions might be in place all year round or just for part of the year such as during the tourism season.
Planning for roads, road systems and road use management is done in this stage, with the primary road corridors already having been identified in Stage 2 (as part of the Long-Term Management Direction).

More detailed planning for primary roads is done and a use management strategy is developed for each road. A one kilometre wide corridor for each new branch road is also identified (to be built within the next 10 years) including for any extensions to already existing branch roads. A use management strategy must also be developed, either for each road or for a set of roads or road system.

Categories of Forest Access Roads
Primary roads - permanent roads, generally expected to be required beyond the 20-year plan
Branch roads - roads required for use within the 10-year period of the plan
Operational roads - roads within areas of operation that provide short-term access
(See section 6.6 for more detail on access)
A use management strategy identifies who can use a road and when, and prescribes maintenance and monitoring activities. It also describes how the road is to be decommissioned, and identifies any water crossings that might have to be removed.
There are special planning requirements for roads that cross provincial parks or conservation reserves or Areas of Concern. There are also more restrictions on roads and road use in Enhanced Management areas than there are in general use areas.
What is an enhanced management area?
Enhanced Management Areas is a land use designation that permits logging, but places restrictions to accommodate other values and priorities, such as wilderness qualities. (See section 5.4 for details)
The final step in plan development for Stage 3 is called the “determination of sustainability”. Building on the preliminary determination of sustainability made in Stage 2 (Long-Term Management Direction) the preliminary determination is reviewed and updated, based on the results of the operational planning. First, the proposed operations are compared to the Long-Term Management Direction. If there is a big difference between what was projected in the Long-Term Management Direction and what is now being proposed (for example, in the types and levels of operation) then the effects these differences might have on the objectives of the forest management plan and the plan’s sustainability must be reviewed. If significant effects are identified, some changes to the types and levels of operations might be required.

In making the determination of sustainability, the assessment of objective achievement done in Stage 2 will be updated to reflect any changes as a result of planned operations and will consider the collective achievement of the forest management plan objectives and the comparison of proposed operations to the Long-Term Management Direction. At this point, the  Plan Author must be able to come to the conclusion that the forest management plan will provide for the sustainability of the forest that is being managed.

The public consultation at the end of Stage 3 includes the first required information centre or open house. A public notice that there will be an open house is sent out at least 30 days before the open house. The purpose of this consultation is get public input into proposed and preferred areas of harvest, renewal and tending operations, proposed road locations and conditions, and to request any additional contributions to the background information that is being used in the planning process.

Several maps and background reports are made available to the public for the 60-day comment period, including a summary report of the activities of the Local Citizens Committee. The information and maps will remain available for public review for 60 days after the open house or information centre.

MNR staff, the Plan Author, members of the Planning Team, and members of the Local Citizens Committee are all to attend the information centre and to be identified according to their role in the planning process.

3.3.5. Draft Plan (Stage 4)

The next stage of the forest management planning process is the development and review of the draft forest management plan. As in previous stages, the first step in this new stage is to review and respond to comments and feedback received during the public review of the proposed operations at the conclusion of the previous stage. The Planning Team compiles comments received from the public and the MNR compiles comments from each Aboriginal community. The Planning Team then reviews all of the comments and considers whether any changes are necessary.

A draft plan is then prepared. There is a detailed set of requirements included in the Forest Management Planning Manual for the contents of the draft plan, including:
· an introduction
· a description of the forest, including a physical description and descriptions of existing roads, land uses, social and economic conditions, and Aboriginal background report and values maps
· detailed documentation of the Long-Term Management Direction developed in Stage 2
· detailed descriptions of the Planned Operations developed in Stage 3
· a section on the Determination of Sustainability
· supporting information and a summary
· 25 tables summarizing information related to various sections of the forest management plan

The draft (and final) forest management plan must also include the following items related to the work of the Local Citizens Committee:
· a list of Local Citizens Committee members
· a brief statement which reports on the Local Citizens Committee’s agreement or disagreement with the forest management plan
· a Local Citizens Committee report
· the text of the Desired Forests and Benefits section must describe how the Planning Team and the LCC considered background information and the desires of the public and Aboriginal communities in determining the desired forests and benefits
· the text of the section on monitoring and assessment must describe opportunities for LCC involvement in forest operations inspection, in monitoring exceptions, and in assessing regeneration success
 

The Local Citizens Committee’s report is to include a description of the following: their activities during plan preparation; the problems and issues addressed by the Committee; an assessment of the effectiveness of the committee structure; and recommendations for change, if any.

The Local Citizens Committee also has the opportunity to provide advice on the preparation of the plan summary, which will include both a summary of their report and of the LCC statement on the Local Citizens Committee’s agreement or disagreement with the forest management plan, and a list of the LCC members.

When the draft plan is completed, the plan is submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources for a 60-day review period and is presented to the Local Citizens Committee by the Plan Author and the Planning Team. The Local Citizens Committee can request that the plan, or sections of the plan, be made available for their review. After that review, the LCC must prepare a statement about whether they generally agree or disagree with the plan.

During their 60-day review period, the local and regional staff of the Ministry of Natural Resources will review the plan to confirm that the plan is compete, that it meets all of the MNR’s policy and regulatory requirements, and that Planning Team decisions and the consideration of public comments are reflected in the plan. The review by regional staff of the MNR will focus on items that have cross-district or broader regional implications and for consistency with forest management guides. At the end of this review, the Ministry of Natural Resources will produce a preliminary list of the alterations to the plan that are required with reasons for each required alteration.

The public consultation at the end of Stage 4 includes a requirement for an information centre or open house. A public notice that there will be an open house is sent out at least 30 days before the information centre. The purpose of this consultation is get public comment on the draft plan and on the Ministry of Natural Resources’ preliminary list of required alterations. Comments from the public will be considered by MNR in finalizing their list of required alternations.

In addition to the most current version of the maps and reports that were available at previous stages of public consultation - including a draft report of the activities of the Local Citizens Committee - the draft forest management plan and the Ministry of Natural Resources’ preliminary list of required alterations will be available for review. The information and maps will remain available for public review for 60 days after the open house or information centre.

MNR staff, the Plan Author, members of the Planning Team, and members of the Local Citizens Committee are all to attend the information centre and to be identified according to their role in the planning process.

3.3.6. Final Approval of the Forest Management Plan (Stage 5)

After the public review of the draft Forest Management Plan a final list of required alternations is produced. The forest management plan is then revised based on the list of required alterations.
 

The final list of the required alterations will be provided to:
· the LCC
· the Sustainable Forest License holder (Nipissing Forest Resource Management Inc.)
· the Plan Author
· anyone who has requested a change to the plan
· anyone who has been involved in issue resolution during the public review of the draft plan , and
· anyone who might be directly affected by the way a requested change has been addressed (for example, if there was a change in the timing of operations made in response to the request of a tourist operator, others in the immediate area might be informed of the change since it might also affect them.).

After receiving the final list of required alterations, the Plan Author has 30 days to make any revisions and summarize how the required alterations were made.

The Plan Author and the Planning Team will present the final plan to the LCC, and the LCC must then decide whether they want to confirm or make any changes to their statement about whether they generally agree or disagree with the forest management plan. The Plan Author and the Planning Team, including the LCC representative on the Planning Team, will also make a presentation of the forest management plan to the MNR Regional Director.
After all the alterations have been made and the plan summary updated, the plan is submitted to the MNR District Manager. If the District Manager is satisfied that all the requirements have been met, then he or she certifies the plan and recommends its approval to the MNR Regional Director. If the Regional Director agrees with the District Manager’s recommendation, he or she will then approve the plan.
Who is the Regional Director?
The Regional Director is the most senior-ranked MNR staff person in the region. The Regional Director has a broad range of responsibilities, including the final approval of the Long-Term Management Direction for the Forest Management Plan and the Forest Management Plan itself. The Regional office for Northeastern Ontario is in Timmins.
After the plan has been approved, there is a 30-day public review period. A public notice is issued letting the public know where they can review the plan and that there is a 30-day period during which they can make a request to the Minister of the Environment that there be an individual environmental assessment of the forest management plan or of some of the activities included in the plan.

The Forest Management Plan will continue to be available for members of the public to read at the local MNR and forest company offices throughout the 10 year period of the plan’s implementation.

Plans are also available for reading at the regional office of the MNR in Timmins, the provincial office in Sault Ste. Marie, and a government office in Toronto.

3.4 Another Five Years: Phase II of a Ten-Year Forest Management Plan

The ten-year forest management plan consists of a Long Term Management Direction for a ten-year period and two five-year operational plans. There is an assumption that the Long Term Management Directions (including plan objectives and harvest levels) set in the early stages of developing the first five-year operating plan will be appropriate to the second five-year operational plan as well. However, that may not always be the case, and the first step in developing the second five-year operational plan is to examine whether the strategic directions set five years earlier are still appropriate.

Each year during the implementation of a forest management plan an Annual Report is produced. The report is produced by November 15th summarizing the forest operations that were carried out during the year of the report (i.e. from April 1 to March 31) and evaluates progress on the implementation of the approved forest management plan. It also describes any significant events (e.g. fires or windstorms) which have affected the implementation of the approved forest management plan and evaluates progress in meeting the targets and projections set out in the forest management plan including those related to harvest, regeneration, and wood utilization. The Annual Report is to be presented to the Local Citizens Committee and is available to the public on request.

The Year Three Annual Report must meet not only the same requirements as other annual reports but also include a discussion of any implications on the long-term management direction  of the success or challenges in implementing the forest management plan, as summarized in  the Years One, Two and Three Annual reports. The Year Three Annual Report must also include a determination by the Plan Author  as to whether or not the Long-Term Management Direction remains valid.

If the Long-Term Management Direction is determined to no longer be valid, an unscheduled plan renewal is required, meaning that a full planning process commences with all of the steps required for Phase I planning. However, if the Regional Director agrees with a determination by the  Plan Author that the Long-Term Management Direction set at the beginning of Phase I remains valid, then the planning of operations for the second five-year term will be done during the fifth year of the forest management plan. After the operational plans for the second five-year term have been approved, they will be added to the forest management plan, making it a ten-year plan.

3.4.1 Planning of Proposed Operations (Stage 1)

Many of the organizational steps done during Stage 0 and Stage 1 of Phase I are done at the beginning of Stage 1 of Phase II: updating background information, renewing the membership and Terms of Reference for the Planning Team and the Local Citizens Committee. The forest company contacts tourist operators to develop or renew Resource Stewardship Agreements, and all of the background information is reviewed and updated, including values maps, the Aboriginal Background Information Report, and the roads inventory.

The analysis of renewal and tending activities undertaken in the development of the Long-Term Management Direction (in Stage 2 of Phase I) will be reviewed and updated, and the areas selected for harvest and renewal and tending operations (in Stage 3 of Phase I) will be confirmed or changed if necessary.
Prescriptions will be developed for areas of concern and harvest renewal and tending areas. Operational prescriptions will be developed by either confirming operational prescriptions that were developed during Phase I or developing new operational prescriptions where necessary. Similarly, the silvicultural ground rules that were developed during Phase I will be confirmed or changed.
What is a Resource Stewardship Agreement?
An agreement betwen a licenced tourist operator and the forest company that holds the Sustainable Forest License, RSAs are included in the information available for public review at the First Information Centre.
Any access, harvest, renewal, or tending operations that were approved for the first five-year term of the forest management plan that were not completed during the first five-year term remain approved for implementation during the second five-year term, with no further planning or approval requirements

Essentially, all of the steps taken during Stage 3 of Phase I are taken again in Stage 3 of Phase II but for the areas of operation being planned for the second five-year term. However, there is no requirement that a determination of sustainability be made as part of the Phase II planning.

There is a requirement for public consultation at the end of Stage 1 of Phase II planning. The invitation to the first and only required information centre or open house during Phase II is the first notice to the public that forest management planning is under way.

A public notice that there will be an open house is sent out at least 30 days before the open house. The purpose of this consultation is to get public input about proposed areas of harvest, renewal and tending operations, proposed road locations and conditions, and to request any additional contributions to the background information that is being used in the planning process.

Several maps and background reports are made available to the public for the 30-day comment period. The information and maps remain available for public review for 30 days after the information centre.

MNR staff, the Plan Author, members of the Planning Team and members of the Local Citizens Committee are all to attend the information centre and be identified according to their role in the planning process.

3.4.2 Preparation and Review of the Draft Planned Operations (Stage 2)


As in the planning stages in Phase I, the first step in this next stage of Phase II planning is to review and respond to comments and feedback received during the public review of the proposed operations at the conclusion of the previous stage. The Planning Team compiles comments received from the public and the MNR compiles comments from each Aboriginal community; the Planning Team then reviews all of the comments and considers whether any changes are necessary.

The  Plan Author then produces the draft planned operations, which will include the following sections:

· an introduction
· prescriptions for operations
· harvest operations
· roads
· revenues and expenditures
· a description of the monitoring program
· supporting information and a summary
· 25 tables summarizing information related to various sections of the forest management plan

The draft planned operations must also include a report from the Local Citizens Committee, which is to include a description of the following: their activities during plan preparation; the problems and issues addressed by the committee; an assessment of the effectiveness of the committee structure; and recommendations for change, if any.

The draft planned operations will be presented to the Local Citizens Committee. After the presentation, the Local Citizens Committee will prepare a brief statement of the committee=s general agreement or disagreement with the draft planned operations.

The public consultation for the review of draft planned operations consists of a public notice being issued which invites the public to review the draft planned operations for the second five-year term. The notice indicates that the draft planned operations and several maps and background reports are available for a 30-day comment period. The information will be available for public review at the local offices of the Ministry of Natural Resources, the forest company which holds the Sustainable Forest License, and at both the regional office of the MNR and a location in Toronto provided by MNR. A summary of the draft planned operations will also be available on request.

3.4.3 Final Approval of Planned Operations (Stage 3)

During the public review of the planned operations, MNR reviewers will meet with the Plan Author to discuss the draft planned operations and the preliminary request of alterations that has been produced by the Ministry of Natural Resources and to determine how the list of required alterations will be addressed during the revision of the planned operations.

After the public review of the draft planned operations, comments received from the public and Aboriginal communities will be reviewed, and the Plan Author and Planning Team will review the comments and determine if any changes or additions to the preliminary list of required alterations are required. If the Planning Team and Plan Author can’t agree, the District Manger will decide. Then the list of required alterations will be finalized and provided to the sustainable forest license holder, the Plan Author, the Local Citizens Committee, and others who have requested changes to the draft planned operations or are known to be affected in the way a requested change has been addressed.
The planned operations will be revised according to the final list of required alternations, and the planned operations will be presented to the Local Citizens Committee. After the presentation, the Local Citizens Committee will confirm or update the brief statement of the Committee’s general agreement or disagreement with the planned operations which was prepared in Stage 2 (of Phase II).
 

The  Plan Author and the Planning Team, including the LCC representative on the Planning Team, will also make a presentation of the planned operations to the MNR Regional Director.

After all the alterations have been made and the plan summary updated, the plan is submitted to the MNR District Manager. The District Manager then signs the Phase II Planned Operations, and - if he or she is satisfied that all the requirements have been met - recommends the planned operations to the MNR Regional Director. If the Regional Director agrees with the District Manager’s recommendation, he or she will then approve the planned operations, and the approved operations will be added to the approved forest management plan.

After the planned operations have been approved, there is a 30-day public review period. A public notice is issued, letting the public know where they can review the approved planned operations and that there is a thirty-day period during with they can make a request to the Ministry of the Environment that there be an individual environmental assessment of specific proposed forest management activities in the planned operations for the second five-year term.

The Forest Management Plan will continue to be available for members of the public to read at the local MNR and forest company offices at any time during the remainder of the 10 year period of the forest management plan’s implementation.

3.5 Public Involvement

3.5.1 Overview

Public involvement in forest management planning is a legal requirement in Ontario. The key piece of forestry legislation, the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, requires that the Forest Management Planning Manual describe how the public is to be involved in forest management planning and what decision making processes will be used in developing and approving a plan.

The forest management planning process provides every citizen of Ontario the opportunity to give meaningful input to the management of Ontario=s Crown forests.
There are two main avenues for public consultation. One is through the Local Citizens Committee, which is an advisory committee whose membership is to reflect the general public and the range of public interests, concerns and values with respect to the local forest. The LCC’s roles and responsibilities are discussed in more detail in Section 2 of this handbook. Opportunities for LCC involvement are also identified in the description of each of the stages of the forest management planning process earlier in Section 3.
The second avenue is through a series of invitations and opportunities for the public at large to participate in the forest management planning process and in the implementation and auditing of forest management plans. This section (Section 3.5) focuses primarily on the role and opportunities for members of the general public.
The forest management planning process provides every citizen of Ontario the opportunity for meaningful imput to the management of Ontario's Crown forests.
However, these two main avenues actually overlap. A member of the Local Citizens Committee might also participate in the planning process above and beyond his or her contributions at the LCC table, and members of the public who are not part of the LCC might bring their concerns to the LCC as a group or to members of the LCC.

The Forest Management Planning Manual sets out a number of requirements for public consultation, including the kinds of notices that have to be given and the opportunities that must be available for public participation throughout the five stages of the forest management planning process.

Comments and concerns can be communicated to the Planning Team through a variety of means. It’s best to put comments in writing either using a comment sheet at an open house or in a letter or note to the Planning Team or the Ministry of Natural Resources. A member of the public can also provide verbal comments and ask that the Planning Team member they are speaking with to make note of their concerns. All of the public comments received are summarized and are available for review (with all identifying information removed).

The Ministry of Natural Resources, in conjunction with the Plan Author, will respond in writing to all written comments received and to all verbal comments if a written response is requested. The responses are to explain how the comments have been considered in the development of the forest management plan.
 
Summary of Public Consultation in Phase I
Phase I Stage
Timeline for Nipissing FMP
Public Consultation Activity
Stage 1

Invitation to Participate

February 2007
A public notice is issued, inviting the public to identify their interest, provide any background information, and share their views on the desired future forest and benefits.
Stage 2
Long-Term Management Direction
Fall 2007
The public may be invited to participate in a workshop on the future forest and benefits. This stage concludes with a 30-day public review of the Long-Term Management Direction summary report.
Stage 3

Proposed Operations

Winter 2008
The first required information centre is held. A public notice is issued 30 days in advance, and the public has 60 days after the information centre to comment on proposed operations.
Stage 4
Draft Plan
Summer 2008
The second required information centre is held. A public notice is issued 30 days in advance, and the public has 60 days after the information centre to comment on the draft plan.
Stage 5

Final Plan

Approval

Fall/Winter 2008
A notice is published informing the public that they have 30 days to review the approved plan at the office of the MNR or the Sustainable Forest License holder.

The planning process is like a conversation. You can make a comment, receive a response, and then make further comments, and so on throughout the planning process. However, even though the Forest Management Planning Manual says that responses are to be provided in a “timely way”, there have been cases in the past where months have gone by and waiting for a response has taken up valuable time in a period when the forest management planning process is moving ahead. If you provided written comments and are waiting for a response, you may want to follow-up and ask - after a few weeks have passed - when you can expect to receive a letter in reply.

The best time to provide input into the forest management plan’s development is EARLY! The planning process begins very broadly, and then becomes more specific as it moves through each stage. In the early stages, provide information about your concerns, and try to make the connection between what you want to see happen (or not happen) in the forest management plan and the kind of forest you would like to see in the future. Think in terms of what objectives or broad goals for the forest management plan might help address your concern or interest, and make suggestions early in the planning process (Stage 2 is when objectives are developed). Then keep in touch and track your concern throughout the planning process to see how your concern or interest is being considered or responded to.

A member of the public can ask to meet with the Plan Author, a representative of the Ministry of Natural Resources or the Local Citizens Committee representative to the Planning Team at any time during the planning process to discuss their interests and concerns.

In Phase II, the second five-year term of the forest management plan, there are only three stages, because the work of developing the Long-Term Management Direction done in Stages 1 and 2 in the Phase I planning process is carried over into Phase II.
 
 
Summary of Public Consultation in Phase II
Phase II Stage
Timeline for Nipissing FMP
Public Consultation Activity
Stage 1

Planning of Proposed
Operations

Spring 2013
The only required information centre in Phase II is held. A public notice is issued 30 days in advance, and the public has 30 days after the information centre to comment on proposed operations.
Stage 2

Draft Planned Operations

Summer 2013
 
A public notice is issued and the public has 30 days to review and comment on the draft planned operations. The draft planned operations and maps and background information are available for review in the offices of the MNR and the forest company that holds the Sustainable Forest License.
Stage 3

Review of Approved Planned Operations

Fall 2013
A notice is published informing the public that they have 30 days to review the approved planned operations at an MNR or SFL holder’s office.

3.5.2 Issue Resolution

In many cases, issues or differences can be worked out informally between the member of the public who has a concern and the Plan Author on behalf of the Planning Team. This is particularly the case if the issue is raised early, and all involved develop a good understanding of the issue and concerns and are able to identify a variety of possible responses.

In some cases, a difference of view may persist, and an issue will not be resolved through informal discussions. If that becomes the case, there is a formal process of “issue resolution” which is outlined in the Forest Management Planning Manual and must be followed.

In general, the earlier an issue is raised the more likely it is that the issue can be resolved without going through a formal issue resolution process. That said, the earlier an issue is identified as one which requires resolution through the formal issue resolution process, the more likely it is that the issue can be resolved through that process to everyone’s satisfaction.

Depending on how far forest management planning has advanced (i.e. which stage the plan is at in the planning process) when the issue is identified as one needing formal issue resolution, there may be more or fewer steps still available to resolve the issue. Also, special circumstances may sometimes mean that a step is missed along the way. The issue resolution process generally follows a standard pattern, which will vary slightly depending on which stage the plan is at in its development. It includes specific timelines and deadlines, which are outlined in the Forest Management Planning Manual.
 
 
Summary of the Issue Resolution Process in Phase I
Stages 1, 2 & 3
During the first three stages of the development of the 10-year forest management planning, i.e. during Phase I the steps include:
Issue resolution begins with informal discussions between the concerned person and the Plan Author and Planning Team.
If no resolution is found, the Plan Author will advise the concerned person that the formal resolution process is available to address the issue.

The concerned person may then make a written request for issue resolution with the Plan Author, including a description of the issue and, preferably, a proposed solution.

The Plan Author consults with the Planning Team and responds in writing.

If the issue is still not resolved, the process may move to a formal issue resolution process with the District Manager.

If the issue remains unresolved, the process may move to a formal issue resolution process with the Regional Director.

Stage 4
(early)
If a request for formal issue resolution is received during the review of the draft forest management plan (Stage 4), the concerned person will make the request for issue resolution to the District Manager.
Stage 4
(later)
If a request for formal issue resolution is received after the 60-day review of the draft forest management plan (Stage 4), the concerned person will make the request for issue resolution to the Regional Director. The last date to request issue resolution will be 30 days after the end of the 60-day period for public review.

There are opportunities for the Local Citizens Committee to become involved in the formal issue resolution process, particularly when the issue resolution request is to the  District Manager or the Regional Director. The LCC can attend issue resolution meetings and provide advice or ideas that might assist in the resolution of the issue.

Each stage of the issue resolution process is to be documented. This will include a description of the issue and a rationale for the decision that was made and how the issue was addressed and resolved. The documentation of the issue resolution process(es) will be included in the supplementary documentation of the forest management plan.

The issue resolution process for Phase II planning is similar to the process for Phase I for the first stage, but since the planning process itself has fewer stages, the same is true for issue resolution.
 
 
Summary of the Issue Resolution Process in Phase II
Stage 1
The issue resolution process includes the same steps as those described for first three stages of Phase I above.
Stage 2
If a request for formal issue resolution is received during the review of the draft planned operations the concerned person will make the request for issue resolution to the District Manager.
Stage 3
If a request for formal issue resolution is received during the 30 days following the completion of the 30-day review of the draft planned operations the concerned person will make the request for issue resolution to the Regional Director. The last date to request issue resolution will be 30 days after the end of the 30-day period for public review of the draft planned operations.

As in Phase I, the Local Citizens Committee can become involved in the formal issue resolution process.

3.5.3 Requests for an Individual Environmental Assessment  (Bump-Ups)


If an issue persists, and a concern brought into the forest management planning process has not been resolved through either informal discussions or through the formal issue resolution process, there is one last avenue available to a concerned member of the public: a bump-up.

Informally called “bump-ups”, the step is actually called a “request for an individual environmental assessment”. Bump-up requests are part of the forest management planning process because the forest management planning system was the subject of a Class Environmental Assessment. Some groups of activities or projects that can be described as being  carried out routinely and that have environmental effects that can be predicted and mitigated can be approved under the Environmental Assessment Act (EA Act) through a Class Environmental Assessment (Class EA). Each Class EA sets out a planning process to be followed for any project in that class. Once approved, the Class EA planning process applies to each project in that class. Ontario currently has Class EAs for such classes of activities as highway construction and maintenance and conservation authorities works, as well as the Forest Management Class EA for forest management practices and planning.

There may be activities being carried out under a Class EA that members of the public might feel should be examined separately under the EA Act. In these cases, the EA Act includes the right for any member of the public to request the Minister of the Environment require an individual EA for any project in that class. In the case of forest management planning, that means that a member of the public can request that a forest management plan, or some of the activities or area included in the plan, be the subject of an individual environmental assessment.

Normally, these requests are made when a concerned person is not satisfied with the outcome of the issue resolution process. Generally, the Ministry of the Environment has a strong expectation that any concerned member of the public will have first tried to have their concern resolved through the forest management planning process. While there is no absolute legal requirement to do so, all advice says the same thing: try to resolve an issue as early as possible in the process. Do not expect to get satisfaction by making a request for an individual environmental assessment if you have not first made serious and sincere efforts to resolve the issue through the forest management planning process, including through the issue resolution process that is outlined as part of the forest management planning process.

A request for an individual environmental assessment cannot be made until the MNR-approved forest management plan is available for a 30-day final review (Stage 5 in Phase I, Stage 3 in Phase II). During this 30-day period:
· A person can make a written request to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) that an individual environmental assessment be done of specific proposed forest management activities in the plan.
· The Ministry of the Environment then notifies the Plan Author and the Ministry of Natural Resources and they have, normally, 15 days to respond to the MOE on the request.

· The MOE will normally decide within 45 days of receiving all of the “necessary” information from the MNR; the MOE may ask the MNR for additional information if the MOE thinks that there are “critical deficiencies” in the information provided by MNR; this could mean that the MOE takes considerably longer than 45 days.
· If the MOE has not decided on the request within 45 days, the Ministry of the Environment is to provide a reason for the delay and the expected time frame for the decision to the person making the request, MNR, and the Plan Author.
· If the Ministry of the Environment has not made a decision on the request by the time the forest management planning activities are scheduled to start up (typically April 1), partial or conditional approval of the forest management activities might be given by the Regional Director; this would require notice being given to the person who requested the individual environmental assessment and require the agreement of the Ministry of the Environment; the operations to be given conditional approval would be activities and areas unaffected by the outstanding request for an individual environmental assessment.
· The Ministry of the Environment can deny the request for an environmental assessment or can deny the request but impose some conditions that address the concern(s) that motivated the request for an individual environmental assessment.
· If the Ministry of the Environment decides to require that an individual environmental assessment be done, it may be for some or all activities in the forest management plan, and/or for some or all of the areas in the forest management plan.

3.6 Aboriginal Involvement

The forest management planning system in Ontario provides particular opportunities for the involvement of Aboriginal people, both in the planning process and in forest management activities.

There are two key sources of direction for this involvement: Aboriginal and treaty rights, and the 1994 Environmental Assessment decision on Ontario’s forest management planning approach.
Aboriginal rights are a legal right derived from historic occupation and possession of tribal lands. Treaty rights are rights that were established in agreements between the Crown and individual or groups of First Nations. Both Aboriginal and Treaty rights are entrenched in the Canadian Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada’s position is that where there is doubt in interpretation of treaties and statutes the issue should be resolved in favour of the Aboriginal people.

A number of court decisions related to natural resource management have established that the Crown (in this case the Ministry of Natural Resources) has a duty to consult with Aboriginal people in any circumstance where an Aboriginal right may be infringed upon, such as the Aboriginal right to fish or hunt. Court decisions have also confirmed that the Crown has an obligation to protection of Aboriginal sustenance uses of unoccupied Crown lands.
 
The 1994 Environmental Assessment Approval for forest management on Crown Lands in Ontario included numerous terms and conditions related to Aboriginal involvement in forest management, several of which are reflected in the current forest management planning manual.

Condition 77 directed MNR District Managers to negotiate at the local level with Aboriginal peoples to identify and implement ways of achieving a more equal participation by Aboriginal people in the benefits provided through forest management planning. Items identified for negotiation included providing employment and income associated with forestry operations, supplying wood to mills in Aboriginal communities, and providing timber licenses or facilitating negotiations of Aboriginal third-party licenses. The same condition appeared as Condition 34 in the Declaration Order which replaced the Class EA decision in 2003.

The Forest Management Planning Manual provides several specific opportunities for Aboriginal communities to be involved during the development of a forest management plan, including:
· an opportunity is provided for a representative of an Aboriginal community to participate on the planning team.  As a member of the planning team, the representative will be involved with ongoing decisions about how the forest is to be managed.
· an opportunity to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Plan Author to develop a customized consultation approach. This approach is intended to describe how the community wishes to be involved in the planning process and how the community’s interests will be considered in the production and implementation of the forest management plan.
· the planning process also requires the identification and protection of Aboriginal values, involvement of communities in the development of prescriptions to protect those values, and opportunities to participate in the development and review of an Aboriginal Background Information Report and a Report on the Protection of Identified Aboriginal Values.

Many local Aboriginal communities also have representatives on the Local Citizens Committee, either as a participating member or as an observer.