A Global Future for the IMFN

I am sure you have been wondering what has happened since the meeting of the IMFN Consultative Committee in Halifax, Canada, September 13, 1999. The discussions, chaired by Dr. Dan Welsh, Canadian Forest Service, led to a consensus on a vision for the future IMFN. The IMFN was seen to have a larger global potential; therefore, a new governance structure, a program of activities, and a funding strategy would need to be created. This process would be led internationally and would probably take until 2002 to complete. 

To achieve this vision, an IMFN Task Force was created. The Consultative Committee elected Juan Carlos Collarte of Chile to chair the Task Force. Membership in the Consultative Committee would evolve into membership in the Task Force. The Committee also proposed that Canada support the IMFNS and the work of the Task Force for two years beyond March 2000. This work, with international partners, would define the program, structure and base of support for the IMFN as it moves from a Canadian initiative to an international one. 

Subsequent steps were delayed partly because of my absence from the office due to illness. Considerable review and discussion were held with the Canadian sponsors regarding the Committee's proposal that Canada provide a base of support for an additional two years. This support would cover the activities of the Secretariat in model forest and network development, and the work of the IMFN Task Force. We were fortunate that Mr. Collarte could come to Ottawa in February to meet with Canadian sponsors. He superbly presented a compelling argument to continue the work of the IMFNS and to support the IMFN Task Force. Since those meetings in February, there was further consideration by the Canadian sponsors. I am happy to report that a favourable decision has been reached. 

A consultant, Dr. Jim Armstrong of The Governance Network, has given us a synopsis of the background and issues in his report: Toward a Framework for the New International Model Forest Network. Based on interviews with international experts and IMFN partners, and discussions with the IMFN Consultative Committee, this report discusses the lessons learned from other international networks, looks at challenges and opportunities, and examines future options. Central to the discussion is the vision for the IMFN shared by its international partners. The report is available on our Web site or copies can be obtained by contacting Pauline Dole at the IMFNS

The IMFN has undergone a very significant evolution. As we move into this next phase, I am sure that it will continue to undergo even more positive development and expansion. These are exciting times. I personally look forward to working with the Task Force and Model Forest partners on this important initiative. 

Frederick Johnson 
Executive Director
IMFN Secretariat