From September 30 – October 6, immediately following the XII World Forestry Congress in Quebec City, Canada, IMFN partners, members and staff from around the world traded their dress shoes for hiking boots and set out on a tour of four Canadian model forests.
[The trip] provided a concrete example and further understanding of what a network can do,” said Richard Verbisky, IMFNS Senior Project Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and the tour’s organizer. “And how all model forest participants can benefit from working in a network.
The first stop for the group, comprised of 34 participants from Chile, Argentina, Japan, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Cuba, Costa Rica, Honduras, China, and Canada, was the Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF) where they attended the annual Forestry Fair in Kemptville. Among other things, they learned about various innovative community projects and were given a demonstration of a locally owned and managed tree nursery
Many of the model forest representatives were impressed by the Lumber Auction that took place in a relatively reduced area where all types of wood were auctioned, including different sizes of boards of valuable native species as well as good-quality logs—all of them well-identified by the organizers of the event.
“Events like this one could be replicated on our island, allowing us to sell good-quality native lumber, dried naturally after being stored for long periods of time,” said Santiago Elmúdesi, General Manager of the Chiloé Model Forest in Chile.
Following the EOMF event, 15 IMFN partners from Chile, Argentina and the Dominican Republic, boarded a westbound flight and continued on to visit the Manitoba Model Forest based in Pine Falls, Manitoba and Foothills Model Forest near Jasper, Alberta. The tour concluded with a visit to the massive 7.7 million hectare McGregor Model Forest based in Prince George, British Columbia.
Participants noted several themes that emerged from interaction with the Canadian Network that can be applied to the LAC region. In particular, how model forests such as Manitoba, McGregor, and Eastern Ontario are structured or changing to include Indigenous participation in Model Forest activities and governance, a major issue in Chile and Argentina. The strong fire protection program, and partnership involvement of national parks and the private sector in the Foothills Model Forest, were also seen as relevant.
“There is a tremendous amount of work still to do, so it is necessary to be strategic and communicate these realities to the Network,” said Verbisky.
Over the short-term, the IMFNS/Regional Model Forest Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean are planning several regional activities and programming initiatives in the areas of Indigenous partnerships and monitoring and evaluation.
IMFNS would like to thank in particular the staff and partners of Eastern Ontario Model Forest, Manitoba Model Forest, McGregor Model Forest and Foothills Model Forest for their organization of the Model Forest site visits, their hospitality, in addition to their commitment to working locally and sharing their experiences with the Latin American and Caribbean Network.