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A Sustainable Forestry Management Network

This initiative will assess novel institutional arrangements for achieving sustainable forest management, and the implications of different policy designs and instrument mixes. Its focus is on the development of Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and will incorporate comparisons with Europe and North America.

ILM is a kind of integrated strategy, an institutional design that is proposed as the solution to complex policy problems. Past and present land use policies suffer from several drawbacks, including:

  • A focus on the impacts of single industries, which fails to account for the problem of cumulative impacts and can lead to unplanned change;
  • An unnecessarily large ‘footprint’ of resource extraction, because conflict between users has traditionally been addressed by spatial segregation; and
  • Gaps, overlaps and ambiguities between land use policies, which are inefficient and fail to resolve conflicts among users and between users and other stakeholders.

ILM attempts to address such problems associated with natural resource management, by taking a whole system approach to the planning, conservation and management of land and water systems. The implementation of this strategy has several objectives, including:

  • To contribute to sustainability by integrating policy and operations across and within government agencies and industries;
  • To reduce the ecological footprint of resource users, which facilitates sustainable resource use and may in turn reduce industry costs;
  • To increase predictability for access to the land base, in order to facilitate long-term planning;
  • To streamline regulatory processes; and
  • To maintain functioning ecosystems.

In addition to the substantive policy objectives that integrated strategy designs pursue, they also aim to create or reconstruct a policy domain with coherent policy goals and a consistent set of policy instruments that support each other in the achievement of the goals. The careful specification of goals and instruments is central to the problem of ILM design, and holds the key to the success or failure of the strategy as a whole.

There is enormous interest in ILM but we know from other policy areas that it is possible for a badly designed integrated strategy “cure” to be worse than the lack of integration “disease”. Identifying the factors that can produce such an unhappy outcome and alerting policy makers to the dangers are the larger practical objectives of this project.

The research will take place over two years, beginning in 2006. The first phase involves intensive work on the Alberta case study, with a focus on the development of voluntary agreements in the FMA held by Alberta Pacific in north-eastern Alberta, the implications of extending these kinds of agreements to other FMAs held by Weyerhaeuser and DMI, and the development of ILM policy on this basis by the Alberta government. Interviews will be taking place with policy makers, analysists, managers, First Nations, and other stakeholders.

The research team has broad interdisciplinary expertise in political science, policy studies and law. Dr. Jeremy Rayner, Dr. Michael Howlett, Professor Chris Tollefson and Dr. Darcy Mitchell have specifically researched and published in the area of forest policy at all levels and in many jurisdictions, including books, edited collections, theses, refereed articles and research papers. Dr. Keith Brownsey has specific policy expertise in the area of oil and gas in Alberta.

Read more about this initiative

Jon Elofson,
Northern Forestry
Centre (Edmonton),
Canadian Forest


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