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Canada’s Forest Trust (CFT), an environment-focused social enterprise, launched a new program on Thursday offering support to private landowners and stewards wanting to restore, preserve or care for sustainable forests on their lots.

By partnering through its Canada’s Land Trust (CLT) program, owners of woodlots, forests, agricultural and marginal land can access the funding, planting management and post-planting maintenance they need to continue caring for their carbon-sequestering, eco-diverse forests.

Six per cent of the country’s forest lands are privately owned, and it is critical to reduce the financial, material and labour-related barriers these “forest families” face continuing their work as environmental stewards, said CFT founder and CEO Gary Zed in an interview with Canada’s National Observer.

“The vast majority [of private forest landowners] are forest families that don’t have a legacy or succession plan. They’re generally at the later stages of their careers or lives, and now they’re in a situation where, frankly, they’re struggling, because they’ve got this land, but it needs to be managed or it needs intervention to enhance it or to reforest it … and they just don’t have the resources or, sometimes, the physical capabilities to do that,” said Zed.

Landowners can receive partial or full support to restore or preserve the forest on their land through the CLT program, following registration and goal-setting with the social enterprise.

This could mean leasing or selling CFT the land so they can prepare, plant, preserve and protect it, or developing a planning and maintenance partnership, which would still involve the landowner helping to take care of the forest.

There are many different approaches to take, depending on what the landowner is interested in.

“There’s an innovative future in harnessing the power of a forest, as opposed to harvesting a forest. And you can do it in a way that still allows for the economy to thrive, for the forest family to thrive and for nature to thrive,” said Zed.

“Harvesting is not a bad word, but the challenge is that a lot of forest families are forced to prematurely harvest their land when it’s not time because they need the income, or they’re faced with degradation, infestation or fire. What we want to do is accelerate reforestation.”

Canada’s Land Trust program will provide funding and resources to private landowners wanting to grow and preserve sustainable forests on their lots.

The CLT program falls under CFT’s greater mission to grow, preserve and protect forests worldwide by collaborating and partnering with Indigenous communities, businesses, schools, non-profits, charities and individuals. The organization’s “Smart Forests,” a nature-based solution, aims to capture carbon, rehabilitate ecosystems, collaborate with Indigenous communities and boost the green economy.

“There’s significant power in forests, and it’s our first line of defence in the climate crisis we’re facing. Anything that we can do as a country, or as individuals, to work with forest families [to preserve, restore and grow their forests] is amazing, positive news for dealing with this crisis,” said Zed.

Updates and corrections

| Corrections policy
December 2, 2022, 07:46 am

This story has been corrected to reflect that Canada’s Forest Trust is a social enterprise, not a not-for-profit organization.

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