New Baltic Forest Initiative to Boost Sustainable Regional Development Through Trans-national Forest Sector Cooperation

Participants in the newly launched Baltic Forest Initiative hope to secure forest sector sustainability, and enhance input to regional development and spatial planning, by exploring how the Model Forest concept can be employed to meet Baltic Sea Region goals.  

IMFNS Executive Director Peter Besseau, and Canadian Forest Service Program Director Steve Price, travelled to Sundsvall Sweden in February to participate in the launch of the Baltic Forest Initiative. The goal of the program is to enhance sustainable regional development in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) by establishing cross-sectoral and trans-boundary forest sector coopera tion.  The strategic focus is on small-scale state and private forest units. The context for examining these questions is the Model Forest approach.

“Our objective as a Network Secretariat is to encourage exchange and learning opportunities as a way to accelerate innovation in sustainable forest resource management. There is no doubt that, for the International Model Forest Network, this project is exciting and important,” said Mr. Besseau. “We are very keen to facilitate access of the substantial experience and expertise of our network partners for this initiative.”

Substantial and durable impacts

Project organizers expect that the “Baltic Forest” will have substantial and durable impact on management of the BSR’s natural resources. The goals of the Baltic Forest Initiative include:

  • Providing partners with a clear understanding of the Model Forest approach to sustainable forest management and its applicability to their project
  • Developing a better understanding of the objectives of the Baltic Forest Initiative and the dynamics of the partnership
  • Providing support to existing Model Forests in Sweden

The initiative will run for 24 months ending December 31, 2007.  The lead agency is the County Administrative Board of Vasternorrland, Sweden.  There are 25 project partners from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Germany, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Additionally, opportunities for linking the Circumboreal and Baltic Forest Initiatives have been identified. Initial steps have been taken to enhance collaboration through the Vilhelmina Model Forest in Sweden and are also expected through Sweden’s Bergslagen Model Forest (Central Sweden) and Kovdozersky Model Forest (Murmansk Region, Russia), both of which are Baltic Forest participants.

“A successful project should lead to excellent prospects for collaboration within boreal and temperate forest regions around the globe and in other strategically important ways,” added Mr. Besseau.

For more information, please contact pbesseau@idrc.ca.