Eastern Ontario Model Forest

In a nutshell

The fragmented nature of the forests in eastern Ontario represents a key management challenge.  Urban expansion, coupled with agricultural and other development pressures, continue to splinter the landscape, jeopardizing the integrity of existing forest ecosystems.  An additional challenge is reaching the million or so inhabitants in the Model Forest with messages about sustainable forestry -this is where the value of broad-based partnerships becomes important.

The Model Forest offers opportunities for engaging forest stakeholders in efforts toward sustainable forestry. The need for involving stakeholders with a variety of interests is imperative given the nature of the landscape and the many values and uses associated with the forests of eastern Ontario.  Adopting the philosophy of the Haudenosaunee people, the Eastern Ontario Model Forest considers each decision and new technology bearing in mind how it will affect future generations.


Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF) is presently not a woodland in the traditional sense as only 34% of the region is actually forested. The rest is made up of farms, suburbs, wetlands and roads – or was developed for other purposes and is now being reclaimed by the forest. Forestry, lumbering and agriculture have always played an important role in the region, especially in the last two centuries when vast stands of maple, oak, pine and spruce were felled to supply demands at home and abroad. A biosphere reserve and national park also exist within the boundaries of the EOMF.

Today, most of the trees in this mixed forest (36% coniferous, 64% deciduous) are less than 80 years old. The forests are dominated by sugar maple and beech, with red maple, yellow birch, basswood, white ash, largetooth aspen, and red and bur oak. More than one million people live in the EOMF, 8,000 of who are woodlot owners (who, together, own 88% of the forested land).

Local communities rely on the forest for employment, forest products, and educational opportunities – more than 7,000 jobs in eastern Ontario are forest-dependent. The Model Forest area also supports farming, maple syrup production, tourism and recreational activities. Over 50% of farms in eastern Ontario are engaged in some form of agroforestry.  40% of Ontario’s maple syrup production occurs in eastern Ontario.

Many people, including indigenous peoples, look to the forest for food, medicinal plants and materials for traditional crafts. Handmade black ash basket creation is an important livelihood for the Mohawk Community of Akwesasne.


Knowledge, research, approaches, tools, techniques, and resources all become more effective when shared. The Eastern Ontario Model Forest realizes this and works hard to bring together people and organizations with diverse interests, backgrounds and skills who believe in sustainable forests and healthy, vibrant communities.  The partnership speaks to what the Model Forest is and why it exists – stakeholders believe strongly in the power of consensus building.  Comprised of hundreds of organizations (among them, indigenous peoples, governments, industry, conservation organizations, certification organizations and academia) to work on a range of projects, activities and initiatives.

Partnership in the Eastern Ontario Model Forest can take many forms:

  • collaboration in and implementation of projects and activities;
  • participation in special interest groups and forums;
  • membership, committee and Board involvement;
  • active support of the goals and objectives of the Model Forest.


Strategic goals:

  • To work with communities (including industry, government and indigenous peoples) and other stakeholders to develop new – and advance existing – forest-based opportunities;
  • To work with communities to pilot ideas, conduct research and develop integrated, multi-sector approaches – based on science and innovation – that enable them to respond to a forest sector in transition and to build capacity specific to sustainable forest management;
  • To develop and share sustainable forest management knowledge, practices, tools, and experiences with international forest-dependent communities in keeping with Canada’s international forest agenda.

Key actions in place to reach these goals:

  • Development and dissemination of information on sustainable forest management practices and principles;
  • Facilitation of local community events involving a range of audiences (e.g., families, forestry professionals, youth);
  • Transfer of knowledge beyond the boundaries of the Model Forest to accelerate sustainability elsewhere.

Key impacts:

  • The successful use and ongoing application of the Naturalized Knowledge (an extension of Traditional Ecological Knowledge) to all activities, resulting in stronger, more responsible and more empowered communities;
  • Since 2002, consistent achievement of Forest Stewardship Council certification – the first private woodlot certificate in Canada that now covers more than 800,000 ha of private land across Ontario;
  • Branding of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified maple syrup, the first FSC non timber forest product to be certified in the world;
  • Through a program entitled Bog to Bog, worked with landowners to protect and link isolated natural areas with a series of forested corridors, and to help improve the understanding of how landowners and their properties can be a valuable part of a larger natural landscape;
  • Building on FSC certification, the development of a Carbon Offset Program for our community forests partners to assist them with generating carbon offsets using Improved Forest Management Protocols.
  • The development of a 2-part documentary telling the story of forest stewardship in eastern Ontario – the past, present and future. The target audience for this film is youth and general public and the purpose is to educate them about career opportunities and good forestry practices.
  • The establishment of the Regional Forest Health Network that brings together partners from eastern Ontario and beyond to share knowledge around forest health issues.

Learn more about Eastern Ontario Model Forest 

Forestry Documentary:
Trees, Youth Our Future: Episode 1
Trees, Youth, Our Future: Episode 2




Kemptville, Ontario province

Area (ha):


Regional affiliation:

Canadian Model Forest Network

Year joined IMFN:


Number of inhabitants:


Contact information

Email: easternontario@imfn.net

Website: www.eomf.on.ca

Our global network
Explore the map or search the list for locations and further details.

© 2022 International Model Forest Network

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