The Canadian Model Forest Network had up to fourteen member organizations nationally. When government partners ceased funding the Network, it was dissolved in the spring of 2017. The Network was created as a place where diverse forest interests could meet. At its peak, across Canada, the Canadian Model Forest Network involved hundreds of organizations and communities. The partners consisted of: aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities, industry (forestry and other land uses), government (municipal, provincial, and federal), non-government organizations, schools (elementary to university), and researchers. The Network fostered open discussion about a range of issues important to the forest and the communities that depend upon them.
With input from a range of interests, the Canadian Model Forest Network collected information and knowledge, created tools that forest communities could use to overcome their challenges.
There are now approximately 50 Model Forests world wide sharing knowledge through the International Model Forest Network.
How A Model Forest Works
In a Model Forest, a variety of people with differing interests and perspectives come together to form a neutral partnership based on the following goal:
• to manage their own natural resources in a way that makes the most sense to them given their history, economic and cultural identities and in a way that does not jeopardize future generations.
The partnership defines what sustainability means in its own context, develops a common goal, governance structure and strategic plan, then works collaboratively to achieve the goals set out in that plan. These goals typically strive to harmonize economic and non-economic priorities and to focus on education and research. Model Forest partnerships are very effective in identifying economic opportunities that are not based on timber alone. A Model Forest is best thought of as a long-term process.
Model Forests are unique in several ways:
• the comprehensiveness of their approach
• the scale of operation
• the breadth of their partnerships
• the level of policy they aim to affect
• the importance placed on networking
Geographically, the Model Forest must represent wide variety of uses and values at play within a particular landscape, such as a watershed.