Sustainable Management of Québec’s Forests

Natural Regeneration: A Core Aspect of Québec’s Approach

Québec has been able to benefit from the advantages of its forests by introducing practices designed to protect the abundant natural regeneration usually present on logging sites. This approach is unique among wood-producing countries. During forestry work, trails used by machinery are spaced out to protect existing regeneration and soils. In addition, silvicultural practices and equipment have been refined over the years to provide better protection for established regeneration. Québec has developed invaluable expertise in this area. As a result, 80% of all harvested areas regenerate naturally. Reforestation techniques are used in the remaining 20% of areas where natural regeneration is insufficient.

Ecosystem-Based Management: A Fundamental Element of the Forest Regime

Québec has selected ecosystem-based management as a means of ensuring that forest biodiversity and ecological processes receive the attention they deserve. Under this approach, the entire forest is considered, as an ecosystem, and natural forests serve as an inspiration for forest management choices. The survival of most species is best ensured by maintaining managed forests in a state that is as close as possible to the natural forest.
Eighty percent of all haversted areas regenerate naturally.
Forest management work therefore focuses, as far as possible, on reproducing the diverse and irregular structures seen in natural forests. This ensures that managed forests provide a variety of habitats. In the boreal forest, this can be done by localizing harvesting areas in a pattern that mimics the action of forest fires, or by maintaining residual forest blocks in harvesting areas and large tracts of forest close by.

Special Attention for Threatened and Vulnerable Species

Although ecosystem-based management usually helps avoid loss of biodiversity, it cannot systematically meet the needs of all species. Some of the more vulnerable species need special attention, and this must be taken into account in sustainable forest management. For threatened or vulnerable species (those that have obtained or are likely to obtain legal status), protection measures are established on a case-by-case basis, according to their specific features and requirements.
Québec has selected ecosystem-based management: an approach in wich the entire forest is considered, as an ecosystem, and natural forests serve as an inspiration for forest management choices.
The protection measures are incorporated into forest management plans and must be applied by the stakeholders responsible for forestry work. In some situations, for species like the woodland caribou, which have very large ranges, habitats are protected by means of special management plans.

Responsible, Participatory Management

The State is responsible for planning forest management activities in the public forests. In doing so, it works closely with land users. Various actors are invited to join in the process, including the Aboriginal communities, regional county municipalities, supply guarantee holders, wildlife and tourism managers, outfitters and maple syrup producers. All these stakeholders come together in panels to express their needs, influence resource development decisions affecting their territory, and discuss the best available solutions. Nearly 40 panels have been set up to work on the plans for Québec’s 71 forest management units.
The State encourages the Aboriginal communities to become involved in forest management and development.
The State encourages the Aboriginal communities to become involved in forest management and development. It has a duty to consult the communities and, where applicable, to accommodate them in cases where forestry work is likely to have a prejudicial impact on their rights. It must create conditions favourable to their participation in the economic life of Québec, through programs adjusted to their particular situation. Management plans must not only reflect the interests of the area’s many users, but must also comply with the environmental standards set out in the Regulation respecting standards of forest management for forests in the domain of the State (RSFM). These standards are designed to protect the many attributes of the forests, including wildlife habitats, aquatic habitats, wetlands, water quality, landscape beauty, areas of interest to the Aboriginal people, and so on. Forestry stakeholders must comply at all times with all the Regulation’s provisions when working in the forest. To ensure that all these considerations are included in the forest management plans, the State’s planners follow a specific planning process and have access to a variety of decision support tools (compilers, simulators and optimizers).