The Resource Stewardship Agreement process

The Resource Stewardship Agreement process encourages the forest and resource-based tourism industries — which both rely on Ontario's publicly-owned forests for their businesses — to work closely together in planning forestry operations that could potentially affect tourist operations.

A joint commitment to planning and managing the effective use of our forests is essential to the well being of many northern Ontario communities.

The forest management prescriptions in a Research Stewardship Agreement come into force when the Ministry of Natural Resources approves the Forest Management Plan that includes the agreed-upon prescriptions.

Forest Management Plans are required to be developed for each of Ontario's 44 Forest Management Units. These plans have a 10-year planning cycle: they address operational details (such as road locations, harvest blocks and renewal activities) in two five-year terms.

During development of a Forest Management Plan, each Sustainable Forest Licence holder is required to invite (by registered letter) all eligible resource-based tourism establishments in the Forest Management Unit to participate in the Resource Stewardship Agreement process.

Once tourism operators indicate they wish to participate, they will meet with forest management planning staff to begin discussing their interests in the management unit.

This is an opportunity for the two businesses to discuss their business needs, their values, the licence-holder's plans and potential areas of concern.

Tourism operators can, for instance, identify important values to their business (such as accommodation facilities, recreation trails, shore lunch sites etc.) and raise any concerns they may have about planned operations nearby.

Those potentially affected by forestry operations should meet as early as possible in the Forestry Management Plan planning process to attempt to find workable solutions that address the interests of both parties.

The goal is to negotiate an agreement that satisfies the parties' respective concerns on tourism values, forest management prescriptions, road use management strategies and other matters.

These discussions, and any subsequent agreement, do not replace other forms of public input. They provide an enhanced opportunity for the forestry and tourism industries to address and resolve any concerns before the Forest Management Plan is brought forward for full public discussion. Those portions of the Resource Stewardship Agreement that directly affect the prescriptions and forest management activities proposed in the Forest Management Plan are subject to public review through the planning process.

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The Resource Stewardship Agreement Memorandum of Understanding sets out a broad framework for developing Resource Stewardship Agreements. It also sets the general principles and minimum content for a Resource Stewardship Agreement. The resource-based tourism and forest industries in Ontario agree to respect and adhere to this Memorandum and to negotiate Resource Stewardship Agreements in good faith.

The Guide to Resource Stewardship Agreements (First Edition – June 2001) provides additional background and advice on the steps for negotiating Resource Stewardship Agreements and the roles of industry and government.

The Management Guidelines for Forestry and Resource-Based Tourism (2001) includes many helpful tips based on actual experience in managing tourism values in the forest. These guidelines can help forest management planners and resource-based tourism operators find the appropriate forest management tools and techniques to effectively manage tourism values in Ontario's Crown forests.