As we prepare to mark the 30th anniversary of the International Model Forest Network, 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.
As the international community looks for ways to achieve 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? This will kick off with a virtual event in June, followed by a series of events and campaigns through to December. Want to play a role, celebrate locally or share ideas? Join us at http://www.imfn.net and also look for the June version of this Newsletter for full campaign details.
Head of the International Model Forest Network Secretariat