Energy, Mines and Resources

Forestry

Background and frequently asked questions about the 5 year review of the Forest Resources Act

Background

  • Approximately 28 million hectares (or 58%) of Yukon is forested (Yukon covers 47.8 million hectares).
  • Approximately 30,000 cubic metres (13,200 cords) of Yukon timber is harvested annually, primarily for fuelwood, by 86 commercial licensees and 1,300 personal use harvesters.
  • The Yukon’s most productive forest land base is concentrated in the south-east corner of the territory around the community of Watson Lake, in the Liard River basin. Productivity generally decreases west and north of this region. 
  • As with other natural resource-based industries, forests provide economic benefits to Yukon. The harvesting of trees provides local jobs and income for many Yukoners. Local loggers harvest trees for fuelwood, lumber and other wood products.
  • The Yukon’s forests also contribute to the quality of our lives in many ways. They provide ecosystem services such as water and soil cycling. They provide habitat for wildlife. They provide recreational opportunities and provide the landscape that is the basis for our indigenous and local cultures.


Questions & Answers


1. How do the Forest Resources Act and Regulation support the responsible and sustainable management of Yukon’s forests?

2. In what ways does this legislation affect members of the general public?

3. Why is the Forest Resources Act being reviewed now?

4. What areas of the Forest Resources Act is the Government of Yukon looking at changing?

5. Is the review of the Forest Resources Act related to the potential development of biomass energy resources in the Yukon and the new Yukon Biomass Energy Strategy?

6. How does the Forest Resources Act review fit with the regulation amendment process that is happening now?

7. What are the main changes currently proposed to the Forest Resources Regulation?

8. How can the public be involved in the management of forest resources?

9. Does this review of the Forest Resources Act allow for input from First Nations into how Yukon forests are managed?

10. Will First Nations still be able to practice traditional use of forest resources?

11. How is forest use by First Nations without final agreements addressed in Yukon forest legislation regime?

12. Why is it necessary for harvesting by the Tetlit Gwich'in to be addressed in Yukon’s forest legislation?

13. How will an updated Forest Resources Act affect industry?

14. How does the Forest Resources Act affect other forest users such as trappers, outfitters, and wilderness tourism operators?

15. How will the legislation contribute to the Yukon economy?

16. How does the legislation acknowledge environmental concerns?

17. How was the Yukon public involved in the development of the Forest Resources Act and regulation?

18. Will there be more regulations in the future?


1. How do the Forest Resources Act and Regulation support the responsible and sustainable management of Yukon’s forests?

The Forest Resources Act was proclaimed in 2011, establishing a modern forest regime and providing forest managers with the tools they need to manage Yukon’s forest resources for long term health, while providing opportunities for Yukoners to benefit from this valuable resource.

Highlights that support these goals include:

  • planning that considers all forest users and includes requirements for First Nations consultation and opportunities for public input on the management of forest resources;
  • stronger commitments to the forest industry in terms of secure tenure opportunities and a transparent and fair allocation process; and,
  • a suite of compliance tools that forest managers and enforcement staff can use to ensure the continued vitality of Yukon’s forests.


2. In what ways does this legislation affect members of the general public?

The Forest Resources Act and Regulation mostly oversee the commercial use of forest resources, but there are two areas that directly address use by the general public:  

Personal Fuel wood (Firewood)

  • Yukoners have the benefit of harvesting firewood to heat their homes. However, they are required to obtain a free permit prior to harvesting.  This permit is for 25 m3 or approximately 11 cords of wood per year or less. 

Yukoners are able to cut up to two Christmas trees per household, without a permit.


3. Why is the Forest Resources Act being reviewed now?

The Forest Resources Act requires a review process to be initiated after five years. The act was proclaimed on January 31, 2011, so 2016 is the time to start the review process.


4. What areas of the Forest Resources Act is the Government of Yukon looking at changing?

This is a public review. Having worked with the act for five years, we have identified certain areas that we hope we can improve, but don’t want to pre-judge what we will hear from the public, industry and First Nations on this in the upcoming consultation.


5. Is the review of the Forest Resources Act related to the potential development of biomass energy resources in the Yukon and the new Yukon Biomass Energy Strategy?

The review of the Forest Resources Act is mandated in the act itself, so the review was planned well before work on the Yukon Biomass Energy Strategy began. While not directly related, the Biomass Energy Strategy has some linkages to the Forest Resources Act review process and proposed Regulation amendments.

The Forest Resources Act review process will be an opportunity for a review of Yukon’s modern forest resources legislation. The Act includes items which may be related to bioenergy, such as the act’s requirements for sustainable forest management, creation of forest resources management plans, establishing annual allowable cuts and silviculture commitments. 

The Regulation amendments proposed in March 2016 are intended to increase operational flexibility, clarify administrative processes and amend the way reforestation fees are applied to licenses. Changes made to the Regulation as a result of these proposals may relate indirectly to the Biomass Energy Strategy.


6. How does the Forest Resources Act review fit with the regulation amendment process that is happening now?

The fact that the mandated legislation review and the minor regulatory amendment process are overlapping is coincidental. The five regulatory amendments were identified some time ago and are intended to simplify some administrative and operational issues. The act review process may take several years to complete, and we didn’t want to wait to make these minor changes. 
  


7. What are the main changes currently proposed to the Forest Resources Regulation?

We hope we can give the Director some discretion to make minor changes to Timber Harvest Plans; we want to change the fee structure so that fees are collected by type of timber harvested (dead or green) as opposed to license type. Ultimately, reforestation can be better financed; there is at least one discrepancy between the Act and the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act, which can be cleared up. And finally, there are a couple of language edits that will clarify harvest plan requirements and eliminate a loophole with respect to stumpage fees payment.


8. How can the public be involved in the management of forest resources?

The Yukon government encourages the public to contribute to the management of Yukon’s forests through the public review of forest resource plans and participation in the YESAA process for specific applications.

The Yukon government will continue to offer the public an opportunity to provide feedback during the review regarding Yukon’s forests.


9. Does this review of the Forest Resources Act allow for input from First Nations into how Yukon forests are managed?

Yes. The Yukon government is committed to a positive working relationship with all Yukon First Nations in the development of a sustainable local forest industry. Administration of the Forest Resources Act and Regulation will continue to be cooperative and inclusive.

The Yukon government will be working with Yukon First Nations at the strategic and operational planning stages to identify First Nation interests that deserve special consideration, prior to issuing forest activity approvals

The legislation provides for First Nation collaboration during strategic planning as well as increased consultation in areas without an approved Forest Resources Management Plan. First Nations also have the opportunity to comment on Timber Harvest Plans and Woodlot Plans and through the YESAA process for specific applications.


10. Will First Nations still be able to practice traditional use of forest resources?

Yes. Members of Yukon First Nations have an exemption from permitting within the Forest Resources Act, for forest resource harvesting purposes incidental to the exercise of their traditional pursuits and customs, consistent with the rights identified in their Final Agreements.


11. How is forest use by First Nations without final agreements addressed in Yukon forest legislation regime?

The Forest Resources Act and Regulation provides similar assurances to First Nations without a Final Agreement as those provided in the Final Agreements of other Yukon First Nations. Targeted consultation was carried out with Liard First Nation, Ross River Dena Council and White River First Nation in developing this legislation.


12. Why is it necessary for harvesting by the Tetlit Gwich'in to be addressed in Yukon’s forest legislation?

Specific clauses in the Forest Resources Regulation are required to meet Yukon’s commitments to the Tetlit Gwich’in provided within the Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement, through the Yukon Transboundary Agreement.

Similar to the exemption for members of Yukon First Nations, this legislation provides for forest resource harvesting on crown land without a permit, for purposes incidental to the exercise of traditional pursuits and the practice of traditional customs.


13. How will an updated Forest Resources Act affect industry?

The Forest Resources Act and Regulation enables a modern forest sector where all forest users, including commercial operators, are considered. The legislation and regulations established in the past decade have provided a stronger commitment to forest industry in areas of secure tenure and a fair and transparent process for the allocation of timber resources.  

Any changes implemented to Yukon’s forest legislation as a result of the review of the Forest Resources Act and Regulation will be intended to streamline the legislation and position Yukon to best protect and utilize our forest resources into the future.


14. How does the Forest Resources Act affect other forest users such as trappers, outfitters, and wilderness tourism operators?

The legislation recognizes the importance of forests to the Yukon way of life, taking into consideration all forest users and ensuring forest resources are managed for their long term health.

The Yukon government encourages the public to contribute to the management of Yukon’s forests through the public review of forest resource plans and participation in the YESAA process for specific applications.


15. How will the legislation contribute to the Yukon economy?

The legislation facilitates opportunities for Yukoners to benefit from our forest resources through fuel wood and timber harvest.

The Yukon government promotes new investment in Yukon’s forest sector by facilitating industrial development while ensuring public interests are protected by implementing modern forest policy and promoting innovation.


16. How does the legislation acknowledge environmental concerns?

The legislation includes strong commitments to planning and compliance and provides forest managers with the tools they need to manage Yukon’s forest resources sustainably.

The legislation provides for proactively identifying areas of key environmental concern and applying appropriate mitigation (including conservation measures), as well as providing a course of legal redress for situations in which environmental damage occurs. 

In addition, the legislative regime for Yukon’s forests has been developed to be compatible with the YESAA process. The Yukon government encourages the public to contribute to the management of Yukon’s forests through the public review of forest resource plans and participation in the YESAA process for specific applications.


17. How was the Yukon public involved in the development of the Forest Resources Act and regulation?

The development of the act and regulation is the culmination of eight years of work, which began with discussions on a policy framework in 2002. During this eight year period there were several public consultations on the policy, act development and the regulation.

Public consultation on the Forest Resources Regulation was held for three months in 2009. 

The Government of Yukon will continue to offer the public an opportunity to provide feedback during the development of new regulations and encourages contribution to the management of Yukon’s forests through the public review of forest resource plans and participation in the YESAA process for specific applications.

The Government of Yukon is always interested to hear from members of the public who have comments or questions regarding government business. Those interested can contact the Forest Management branch to discuss forest regulation further.


18. Will there be more regulations in the future?

Yes. The current regulation supports the implementation of the Forest Resources Act, but future policy pieces will round out all aspects of responsible and sustainable management of Yukon forests.

Regulations can be developed for processing facilities and administration of community forests.

Public consultation will be included as part of developing all future forest resource regulations.

Contact Us: 

Mile 918 Alaska Highway
Box 2703, Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6
Phone: 867.456.3999 / 1.800.661.0408 ext. 3999
Fax: 867.667.3138
E-mail: forestry@gov.yk.ca