About GFWC

What is Global Forest Watch Canada?
What is Global Forest Watch?

What is Global Forest Watch Canada?

Global Forest Watch Canada was formed to provide access to better information about development activities in Canada's forests and their environmental impact. We are convinced that better information about Canada's forests will lead to better decision making about forest management and use, which ultimately will result in forest management regimes that provide a full range of benefits for both present and future generations.

Starting in 1998, a Global Forest Watch Canada informal network convened a series of meetings. At those meetings, partners endorsed a charter and organizational structure, developed a strategy for data collection and analysis, created a funding strategy, and worked out a communication plan. In addition, the partners laid out an initial work plan that included publishing a report on the state of Canada's forests. Canada's Forests at a Crossroads: An Assessment in the Year 2000 is the manifestation of one goal of Global Forest Watch Canada (available at www.globalforestwatch.org). Global Forest Watch Canada was incorporated in 2000 as a not-for-profit organization in Canada to monitor development activities in Canada's forests. This plan was developed over a six-month period in late 2000 and early 2001 by the Board of Directors of and invited advisors to Global Forest Watch Canada. Two key meetings were held to discuss the development and content of a strategic plan:

1. Calgary meeting in September 2000 attended by one representative of most the five Canadian organizations who had existing contracts with the World Resources Institute, and:

2. Vancouver meeting in November 2000 attended by the five-member board of directors, the Global Forest Watch Canada staff member and six invited advisors (i.e., representing Sierra Club of Canada, Natural Resources Defense Council, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Environmental Mining Council, Le Reve, Taiga Rescue Network).

At these meetings:

  • We reviewed the existing international Global Forest Watch Charter
  • We identified emerging Canadian issues;
  • We examined our existing capacity;
  • We identified key principles of operation;
  • We examined our role relative to other organizations, and;
  • We articulated our ambitions.
These meetings resulted in the participants:
  • Emphasizing a pivotal role for Global Forest Watch Canada within its existing incorporation mission and purposes;
  • Affirming the credibility of its major completed and pending products (i.e., the existing report on Canada's forests, and the major two-year project underway, Canada's intact forests mapping project);
  • Brainstorming potential new products, and;
  • Developing and refining a budget.
A draft of this strategic plan was circulated to advisors and partners and comments reviewed for inclusion in this final Global Forest Watch Canada's board-approved plan.

The Issues

Canada is home to over a third of the world’s boreal forest, one quarter of the world’s temperate forests and a tenth of the total global forest cover. Although these forests have escaped large-scale conversion, they are being rapidly opened up for their timber, energy and mineral resources and recreational opportunities.

The following is a list of trends and emerging issues that influence strategic directions for Global Forest Watch Canada. Many Canadian forest issues are becoming critical, including the following:

  • Forest tenures are rapidly expanding into northern areas (i.e., 61% of tenured forest lands face severe productivity limitations or moderate limitations).
  • First Nations are asserting rights over decisions in forests (e.g., submission of the Grand Council of the Crees [Eeyou Istchee] to the Office of the United States Trade Representative regarding the Softwood Lumber Agreement).
  • Over-allocation of timber in some areas (e.g., in British Columbia, current Annual Allowable Cuts exceed long-term sustainable harvest levels by 11 million cubic metres per year, or 18.5%).
  • A vast majority of the cut is still in frontier forests, including old growth forests (i.e., 90% of all logging occurs within primary and old-growth forests).
  • Cumulative impacts with industrial uses are escalating (e.g., most of the forests of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin have been severely fragmented by linear disturbances, usually caused by the oil and gas industry).
  • Many forests in southern Canada are becoming depleted and/or their biodiversity increasingly threatened (i.e., roughly 60% of Canada's endangered forest-dwelling species are found in the Carolinian Forest Region, and; there are over 150 plant communities at risk within the coastal temperate rainforest).
  • The Canadian Forest Service has experienced dramatic reductions in budget and staff in recent years (i.e., from 1995 to 1998, the annual operating budget of the CFS declined from $219 million to $93 million).

There is a rapidly growing international interest in Canada's forests and in all significant global forests. International trade issues are receiving increasing attention. Certification programs and market action campaigns that call for higher standards are increasing and are an important focus of both environmentalist initiative and industry response. There is the potential for substantial increased funding for Canadian environmental and forest-related projects. There is a severe lack of an independent national perspective on forestry issues. There is a severe absence of up-to-date, detailed maps and other monitoring and verification tools to identify what is happening and poised to happen in Canada's forests. Access to information about Canada's forests is difficult. Provincial, national and international environmentalists and environmental organizations are re-positioning in order to address forest issues at all jurisdictional levels. Resolution of these trends and emerging issues is only possible with reliable information about Canada's forests.

What is Global Forest Watch?

Global Forest Watch is an independent network of organizations that monitor and map logging, mining, road-building and other forest development within major forested regions of the world. Approximately half of the forests that initially covered our planet have been cleared, and another 30 percent have been fragmented, degraded, or replaced by secondary forest. Urgent steps must be taken to safeguard the remaining fifth, located mostly in the Amazon Basin, Central Africa, Canada, Southeast Asia and Russia.

As part of this effort, the World Resources Institute in 1997 started Global Forest Watch. Global Forest Watch's principal role is to provide access to better information about development activities in forests and their environmental impact. To this end, GFW:

(i) tracks existing and planned development activities;
(ii) identifies the actors - including companies, individuals, government agencies, and others - engaged in this development;
(iii) monitors the implementation of laws and regulations established in the interest of forest stewardship; and:
(iv) provides data on forest ecosystems to highlight the environmental and economic tradeoffs that development options entail.

Global Forest Watch is an information service, establishing a system for easily accessible information to all. The Global Forest Watch international network provides technical and financial support to affiliates.