Reflections from Ottawa on 30 Years for Landscapes, Partnerships and Sustainability

September 09, 2022 | Written BY : IMFN








June 12, 2022 marked the 30th anniversary of the International Model Forest Network (IMFN). This 30th anniversary milestone anniversary provides a unique opportunity to highlight the successes that have come from within the Network, and look ahead to scaling up these lessons for even greater achievements together.

The year 2022 is shaping up to be exciting and eventful, full of unique activities and events.  These milestone moments are also important times to reflect back on where we came from, the lessons we have learned, and the many challenges that remain.

The trends and conflicts that gave birth to the International Model Forest Network nearly 30 years ago have become increasingly relevant in 2022. Inclusive and shared governance approaches to natural resource management will be even more relevant in building back better for COVID-19 green recovery and accelerating action to fight climate change.

There is no solution to climate change and terrestrial biodiversity loss that does not involve forest ecosystems. Forest ecosystems, and how we sustainably manage forests, are a key nature-based solution to many issues, including climate mitigation, biodiversity loss, and increased efforts in conservation.

As the international community looks for ways to help forests adapt and remain resilient while achieving their domestic commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals and other agreements, the International Model Forest Network’s 30th anniversary provides a unique opportunity to highlight the successes that have come from within the Network, and look ahead to scaling up these lessons for even greater achievements together.

The Model Forest approach was first developed and implemented by the Government of Canada in the early 1990s in 10 sites across the country. It was a response to a period of significant conflict in Canada’s forest sector, when environmentalists, governments, indigenous peoples, communities, and forest workers were struggling over forest resources and how to manage them sustainably. The idea behind the Model Forest concept was to move away from valuing forests for timber alone towards a vision where social, environmental, economic and cultural benefits and trade-offs would be considered equally.

From the beginning, Model Forests promoted the idea of forming partnerships under a neutral forum where a range of values and interests could be represented, and where partners could experiment with new ideas under a common goal of sustainable development. Each site was intended to be a dynamic “model” from which others could learn, and together advance their sustainability goals in the forests and broader landscapes that surround them. The approach showed immediate promise as people came together to find common solutions to the challenges they faced, such as logging practices, biodiversity conservation and economic stability.

Bolstered by this success, the Government of Canada announced the development of an International Model Forest Network at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, with the goal to scale up the lessons learned in from Model Forests in Canada and provide a platform to share its experiences with international partners.

Although we won’t be serving cake to celebrate this important milestone, the IMFN Secretariat will be celebrating your individual and shared successes.  How you might ask?  From June to December 2022, the IMFN Secretariat will run a multi-faceted, trilingual communications campaign to celebrate our individual and shared successes. We hope you will be inspired to engage with us, sending us your stories, video messages, nominees and milestones that will make this campaign shine.  On the IMFN’s recently updated website, you will find a number of ways you can contribute to the campaign… and we REALLY hope you do!

We hope this campaign inspires you to engage with us, to send us your stories, video messages, everyday Leadership nominees and Model Forest Milestones that will help us tell this incredible 30-year story.

The strength of the IMFN is being part of a broader movement. The IMFN Secretariat can amplify your message. We can support your efforts and help them be recognized. This is the spirit of this campaign, and the Network itself.

How do you want to celebrate the IMFN’s 30th anniversary in your area? In your Model Forest? In your country or region? Let the Secretariat know at and I know they will work to profile, engage and make your initiatives a success.

On behalf of the Government of Canada and the IMFN Secretariat, we’re looking forward to collaborating on a compelling campaign that shines a spotlight on the great work we do!

© 2022 International Model Forest Network

This website has been developed with support from the Government of Canada.