Aboriginal Forestry Initiative


A new approach to Aboriginal forestry

The Aboriginal Forestry Initiative (AFI) represents a new Government of Canada approach to foster enhanced Aboriginal participation in the competitive and sustainable transformation of Canada’s forest sector.

Through the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada leads the Aboriginal Forestry Initiative, in partnership with over 15 federal departments and agencies. The AFI supports the Government of Canada’s Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development.

With a focus on economic development, the Aboriginal Forestry Initiative empowers Aboriginal entrepreneurs in the forest sector, by serving as a knowledge centre for Aboriginal forestry and forest sector innovation, and to facilitate knowledge exchange and coordination of federal and other support to opportunity-ready Aboriginal forestry projects and partnerships.

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Emerging trends and opportunities

Aboriginal participation in forestry

Forests already play an important cultural, spiritual and economic role in the lives of many Aboriginal communities across Canada. The importance of these values is growing, however, as more forest land comes under First Nations control and management.

Growth in reserve land, actual and projected* (hectares)

Graph showing the actual and projected growth in reserve area between 1987 and 2022.

* Based on current backlog of Claims/treaty land entitlements; projected one-third settled
Source: Lands Branch, Lands & Trust Services, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Graph data
Table showing the actual growth in reserve area for the years 1982, 1992 and 2010 and projected growth for the years 2012 and 2022.
  1982 1992 2010 2012 2022
Actual 2,625 2,676 3,441    
Projected*       3,846 4,887

Some general trends in Aboriginal forestry in Canada today:

  • Aboriginal people are engaged in every aspect of the forestry sector.
  • Canada’s forest sector is actively seeking Aboriginal co-venture partners and contractors.
  • More than 16,000 Aboriginal workers are currently employed in Canada’s forest sector. That is more than are employed in any other natural resource sector in the country.

Percentage of Aboriginal employees relative to total sector employees, by subsector

Graph showing the participation of Aboriginal workers by subsector based on total subsector employees

Source: Census 2001-2006, Statistics Canada

Graph data
Table showing the percentage of aboriginal workers by subsector based on total subsector employees in 2001 and 2006.
  2001 2006
Logging and forestry 6.6 7.3
Support activities for forestry 9.4 9.7
Wood product manufacturing 4.1 4.5
Paper manufacturing 1.9 2.7
All industries 2.1 2.7
 

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Aboriginal economic development in forestry

The Canadian Forest Service is leading a new federal approach for Aboriginal forestry.

As the lead for the Aboriginal Forestry Initiative (AFI), the Canadian Forest Service is positioned to be a centre of knowledge on Aboriginal forestry and forest sector innovation, and to facilitate knowledge exchange and coordination of federal support to Aboriginal forestry projects and partnerships.

Contact an AFI facilitator at your nearest CFS office to discuss your project idea, and how we might facilitate its development:

  • Bruce Pike, Atlantic Forestry Centre (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I)
  • Bruce Pike, Atlantic Forestry Centre (Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • Gaston Joncas, Laurentian Forestry Centre (Quebec)
  • Maureen McIlwrick, Great Lakes Forestry Centre (Ontario)
  • John Doornbos, Northern Forestry Centre (Manitoba, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan)
  • Nello Cataldo, Pacific Forestry Centre (British Columbia, Yukon)
  • Laura Mackenzie, National Capital Region (national-scale projects)

For general inquiries, please contact the Aboriginal Forestry Initiative.

Priority areas for Aboriginal economic development in forestry

The Canadian Forest Service will focus its knowledge and facilitation resources on what are identified to be current priority areas for Aboriginal economic development in forestry. The identification of priority areas are determined through networking and knowledge exchange with Aboriginal forestry and community economic development practitioners, industry, all levels of government, academia, Aboriginal and forestry associations, and through active monitoring of emerging trends in Aboriginal forestry.

Currently, these priority areas for Aboriginal economic development in forestry include:

  • bioenergy
  • forest-based services to industry and governments
  • value-added wood products

Targeted scope of AFI-supported projects

The Canadian Forest Service will focus its knowledge and facilitation resources on projects that are opportunity-ready, that appeal to multiple partners and funding agencies, and that have the potential for regional economic development (offer the potential for significant economic impacts to multiple communities in a region such as business development, business revenue and employment).

Limited multi-year funding may be made available to AFI-facilitated projects, where critical gaps in the support offered by other partners and funding agencies could otherwise pose a risk to the success of a project. There is no application process to access this funding, it is allocated on the basis of availability, need, and the strategic value or magnitude of the opportunity as identified through CFS’ facilitation of the project and partnerships.

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