Many significant forests in Ontario are threatened by clear cutting or high-grading (i.e., the selective removal of the commercially valuable timber species and mature specimens), both of which dramatically reduce the canopy and native biodiversity, as well as destroy habitat for endangered species. Owners of forested lands who are interested in conserving and protecting their forest properties may wish to pursue a Managed Forest Conservation Easement Agreement (MFCEA) with the Ontario Heritage Trust.
A MFCEA can protect forested lands in perpetuity, while ensuring that they are actively managed in accordance with an approved managed forest plan or certification process (e.g., the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program or Forest Stewardship Council Certification).
The Trust’s MFCEAs are based on standard “forever wild” natural heritage conservation easement agreements, but allow activities permitted in Managed Forest Plans that have been approved by a recognized Plan Approver affiliated with sustainable forestry programs through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Forest Stewardship Council Canada, Forests Ontario or the Eastern Ontario Model Forest. In the event that a current or future MFCEA landowner discontinues involvement in such sustainable forestry programs, the MFCEA reverts to the Trust’s “forever wild” conservation easement restrictions, which require that the removal of trees and/or vegetation be approved by the Trust. MFCEAs have the potential to dramatically increase the amount of land in Ontario being protected from forest fragmentation, subdivision and development, while also enhancing biodiversity.
Not every managed forest is a candidate for a Trust MFCEA. Only those with core areas of provincial natural heritage value and whose owners have expressed an interest in long-term conservation can be considered. Decisions to enter into MFCEAs are made on a case-by-case basis, with the final authority resting with the Trust’s Board of Directors. Candidate properties for the Trust’s MFCEA program must already be enrolled in a sustainable forest program.
The Cora Munn Property is an example of a MFCEA held by the Trust. For more information on MFCEAs, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.