First Nations and Algonquin park sustainable forest management in Ontario, Canada



Algonquin Park is the first national park in Ontario, which located in south side of Ontario. The park is established in 1893, which has a total area of 7,653 km². Essentially, the park is famous for its abundant outdoor activities and biodiversity[1]. As for the governance of this park, the collaborative management has implemented in the sustainable forest management of the park. Therefore stakeholders have participated in different roles of maintaining the sustainability, and protecting the forests from degradation of this park. However, different values of stakeholders caused a lot of conflicts and issues during this process. Especially for affected stakeholder like First Nation group, who live in Ontario for a long time, these people still fight to become more involved in decision making process to advance their rights and dignity in this territory. Because of having different cultural values, First Nations have opposing views against any logging activities, and they want to have rights to hunt and fishing and have economic control in this park to serve their cultural values, rather than just treaties and policies. This essay aims to show how are the forests been managed; and understand that the specific causes of conflicts and provide some solutions to resolve the relative problems, in order to have a sustainable-managed forest for both ecology benefits and economic benefits.

Background information

map of Algonquin Provincial Park

Before the 1900s, the forests in Ontario were under local control, and the forests in northern and southern Ontario had slight differences[2]. As for northern Ontario, industrial use and control of forest resources were concentrated. However, the Algonquin Park in the southern Ontario was focused on urban and agricultural, which was conservation-oriented[2]. Because of the over-exploitation of the forests, the ecological degradation was severe, which not only led to the social conflict between local people and government, but the low production of timber also led to economic disaster at that time. Therefore, First Nations have participated with the government and other interested social groups in community forests to protect the forests from severe degradation.

In 1922, the private land formally owned by the county, and different logging companies came to the Algonquin Park and take the considerable large amount of timber. As a result, forest degradation, poor soil, and increased flooding were happening due to the logging activities in this area[2]. Therefore, the Agreement Forest Program was launched since 1922, it was an 80 years’ experience of local government involvement in public land. Later in 1927, the Forestry Act expended the original Agreement Forest Program to include a variation of actors into the forest management, which led to multiple stakeholders participating in the management as a whole[2]. However, there were some drawbacks for the Forestry Act. Firstly, the profits which were fewer than other provinces, which did not engage the Agreement Forest owners and managers to carry out the Act effectively. Secondly, the First Nations’ participation was not fully engaged, and the conflict between First Nations and logging companies became more serious since they did not want any logging going to disturb their culture lives. However, the logging did not stop in the park, because the park provided a great chance to obtain timber productions.

In 1947, the Algonquin Forest Authority (AFA) was established to manage a sustainable forest. The Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)policy aims to maintaining the park values for future generations, maintaining the long-term health of the forest, as well as producing a sustainable supply of timber products[3]. The first objective of the AFA is to harvest Crown timer and produce logs to sort, sell, supply and deliver logs[2]. The second objective is to perform, undertake and carry out such forestry, land management and other programs and projects as the Minister may authorize and to advise the Minister on forestry and land management programs and projects of general advantage to Ontario. Revised Statutes of Ontario 1990, c.A.17, s.9(1)[2]. By 1960, there were 20 logging license permitted for timber production, when the time the AFA established, the AFA replaced the logging permit and became the solo license[2]. This way, logging is still happening in the park, but the logging is under the authority’s management. The Board of the AFA is appointed, so that he would carry out the authority at the legislation level to make the AFA more powerful. Moreover, the AFA unlike other logging companies, it does not pay full resources rent to the Crown[2]. The ninety per cent of the profit will be directly put into the region for local forest management[2]. However, the non-industrial stakeholders still complain that the logging level is too high, the relationship between First Nations and other interested stakeholders is not eased by the AFASayna[4]

Tenure arrangements and administrative arrangements

Tenure arrangement in Ontario

In Ontario, most of the land is owned by Crown (90%), only a small portion of land is owned by private (10%)[5]. The Great Lakes- St. Lawrence Forest region represents 25 percent of Ontario’s actively managed public forest, and the Algonquin Park is a public forest under management of Crown[5].

There are three classifications of public land, namely MNRF unpatednted Land, Crown Land – MNRF Acquisitions and Crown Land – MNRF Non-Freehold Dispositions[6]. To be more specific, the MNRF unpatednted Land it is under Crown control and managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). These are parcels of land that have not been granted or sold by the Crown to people or organizations for private use. In terms of Crown Land – MNRF Acquisitions, it is privately owned land through a variety of tools or approaches, collectively known as ‘land securement’. Lastly, Patent Land is a permanent disposition that does not revert to unpatented land unless it is forfeited to the Crown or it is acquired by the Crown and then depatented. Moreover, the private land is the Forest management on private land is not heavily regulated by the Government of Ontario[5].

Forest management


There are strict rules to manage Crown forests. First of all, it has to be prepared by a registered professional forester with the input of local citizens, First Nation communities, and the public[7]. Next, it has to be prepared for a ten-year period management. Third, the management plan has to follow the Forest Management Planning Manual[7]. Lastly, the management must ensure sustainability while finding a balance of social, economic and environmental values[7]. The Forest Management Trail in the Algonquin Park is an example of the management of Crown forest. The trail is a 1.5 km self-guided trail through Ontario’s Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest, tourists could view different trees and a diversity of wildlife animals during the trial[8]. The trail area, logging activities do not take place to protect the natural environment and provide the aesthetic valuesl[8]. Moreover, the “Silvicultural Systems” is introduced into the sustainable forest management, so that it could ensure the continued health and diversity of forest ecosystems before and after tree cutting. In order to do so, the system set the guideline for logging activities. Moreover, there are four ways to mitigate the competition taken between trees for maple and oak[7].

1. Cut or “uproot” the competition taken vegetation

2. Use one or more controlled fires to burn off the competition

3. Use chemical herbicides to kill the competition

4. Plant red oak seedlings that are taller than the competition

There is another system that used for forest management is called selection system. The one of advantages of this system is to maintain hardwood tree species that are tolerant of shade like maples, which help to build the ecosystem more stable and diverse[7]. The “no cut option” is not only beneficial for the environment, but it also respects the recreational values of First Nations and other park users at the same time. In order to protect the forest in this particular area, the tree marker who work here are well selected and trained[7]. Besides two management systems that the park is introduced, the AFA published the Sustainable Forest Management policy to obtain a good managed forest in the Algonquin Park. The policy includes: to protect the biological diversity; to maintain the productivity of the forests; to product both water and soil sources, to involve and respect the public values[9]. The SFM significantly shows the importance of involvement of First Nations rights and participation[9]. For instance, the management plan has to respect First Nation’s values and the treaty rights, and provide opportunities for them to be involved in the management with respect.

Affected Stakeholders

There are multiple stakeholders who participate in the Algonquin Park forest management. In this case study, I have list two major affected stakeholders. The first affected stakeholder is local people which are Algonquins First Nation group. They have every low power among these stakeholders since they are the minority group. For instance, they are lack of participation in management and decision making process. As for the AFA, the Board is appointed by the government, instead of having elected Board in the local communities[2]. Therefore, their voices might not be heard as their traditional values are not be understood fully by the appointed agencies for the government. Another affected stakeholder who also has very low power is local park users, as they do not have legal representatives to include their suggestions to the Algonquin Park management. As the logging activities take place regularly in the park, they might be distracted by the logging machines. Moreover, lots of people make a life by offering commendations for tourists in the park, and the noises made by logging and the damaged view will increase the possibility for them to lost tourists. This way, this type of local park users are forest- depended as well, however it is unfortunate that they do not have much power to maintain their lives in the Park. Local loggers of the Algonquin Park are also affected stakeholders, since a lot of them are from adjacent villages and their lives significantly depend on the forests. This way, being employed by a logging company provides them a job opportunity to make money to financially support their families or live independently.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

There are four major interested stakeholders that involved in the forest management, namely the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, The Algonquin Forest Authority and the local Citizen Committee. As for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), it has the responsibility for the sustainable forest management of Crown forest in Ontario[5]. It is the provincial level of authority which has the highest power among these four interested stakeholders. For instance, it holds the overall power to manage the forests and other resources in Ontario. The Algonquin Forest Authority (AFA) has the lower power than MNRF, but the authority is the decision maker who could decision on how the management is implemented in practice. For instance, the authority has the solo logging license which replaced the twenty companies and it has decision- making power to decide what area can be logged and which trees should be planted in specific area of the park[2]. Therefore it is the key actor of forest planning and managing process. Moreover, the authority published the SFM policy, which helps to reconcile the conflict between the First Nations and other interested stakeholders. It also plays an important role to contribute financial support to the local forestry management, as the APA does not pay full rents to the Crown. Besides financial support that the APA could offer to the local community, it also balances the biological environment and the production of timber as the same time, in order to achieve the objectives of this authority. Local Citizen Committee is a local level involvement participant of communities and interested groups. It has limited power to be involved in the management of the forests in the Algonquin Park, since their suggestions and interest may not be taken serious compare to the provincial level interests[2].

Issues and conflicts

Wolf Lake First Nation (WLFN) or Mahingan Sagaigan is one of the Algonquin Nations in Canada, and only one of ten communities located in Ontario[10]. This First Nation has conflicts with the government due to their titles and rights have been refrained. To begin with, the self-determination will allows this First Nation group to be as they truly are to enjoy their traditional values, instead of being re-created by Crown governments by regulating their actions through Canadian Indian Act[10]. To be more specific, the recognition that Algonquins began with both rights to their territory and rights as people governed their own customary[10]. However, the Crown’s rights laid on top of the customary rights, logging companies’ over exploiting action caused the forest become degradation[10]. Therefore, the First Nations had co-operative actions with the government and other interested stakeholders. However, they found themselves alienated from their territory and became criminalized until 1982[11].Customary right should over than State right, but instead, in Ontario, Algonquin rights outside of reserve lands have been affected under a so-called “basket of clause” of the Williams Treaty of 1923[12]. Furthermore, First Nations did not assign the Treaty, however it shows that province has winder governance of their lands, so that the government has the greater power to control the First Nations’ territory and excluded them with major decision making process[10]. Moreover, the government extinguished the pre-existing sovereign by forcing the First Nations negotiate with them, and eventually the First Nations become municipalities not self-determination any more[10]. Besides the provincial level of miss presenting of First Nation’s title and rights, the AFA does not let local communities to have control neither. In the co-collaborative management, the government takes the overall control. For instance, the AFA Board is not appointed based on his achievement, but it is based on his political background[2]. This way, these non-industrial stakeholders’ voices might not be taken seriously, since the AFA is a commercial based authority[2]. Moreover, the Local Community Committee also lacks First Nations’ participation.

Logging activities which take place in the Algonquin Park are the main reason that First Nations have a conflict with the government, since local people do not want any logging activities in the park[4]. Moreover, logging can cause damage to soil properties, and eventually become unusable. Addition to this, the land is significantly important for First Nations, because they acquire happiness by practicing their cultural values and maintain their daily live hood on the land[13]. However, experts show that the logging in diverse forests will be beneficial for maintaining the ecosystem as they are detrimental[4]. The AFA is a commercial orientation to keep the production of timber and the balance of ecosystem at the same time, therefore logging is still taking place in the area[2]. Furthermore, SFM policy lacks the detail of the forest management, although the AFA consulted LCC for opinions from local communities, the participation rate of First Nations is very low[2]. Nevertheless, the AFA fails to provide updated data to the public about the newest management implementation in the park, and the First Nations’ values and rights are excluded by the AFA[2]. All these problems that logging brought to the public have become the main source which led the conflicts happen between First Nations and the government. In order to reconcile the conflicts, the New Forest Practices Model(NFPM) is introduced to the Algonquin Park to help decrease the harmful carbon sources that caused by logging activities, and protect the traditional lands for First Nation group who live in this area[4]. The NFPM mainly focuses on the reuse and recovery of the logging roads, and put the sustainable forests practices in action and minimize the water impacts[4]. To be more specific on reusing the logging road, the plan is to make the roads into biotransformation which includes placing bark and wood chips from the forest floor onto the logging roads with fungus, in order to accelerate the growth of forest flora. As a result, there are two major advantages for doing so. The first is that cleaning the forest floor would benefit the recover the abandoned logging roads[4]. The second advantage is that placing the hog-fuel form the forest floor would be beneficial for preventing forest fire in the future[4]. Besides that, expand the logging area to prevent old growth forests from deforestation is another option to maintain the sustainable forests[4]. Moreover, protect water quality is another task that the management should be considered, since the lake is important for both ecosystem of the forests and the First Nations’ cultural values[4].


  1. Wilson, H. (2014, December 3). Environmental Commissioner Decries Logging in Algonquin. Canadian Geographic. Retrieved
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Bullock, R., & Hanna, K. (2012). Community Forestry: Local Values, Conflict and Forest Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511978678
  3. Sustainable forest management. (2014, 7 17). Retrieved from Aménagement Forestier - CCFM:
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Sayna Sadeghi, Amanda Bulmer, Kiana Bridges, Mengjia Ding. (2015). Logging of Algonquin Provincial Park. Retrieved from Student Research on Environment and Sustainability Issues:
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Province of Ontario. (2017, 11 09). Retrieved from Aménagement Forestier - CCFM. :
  6. Land Tenure Data Maintenance Guide. (2016, 4 7). Retrieved from Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry:
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Silvicultural Systems: Uneven-Aged — Selection. (n.d.). Retrieved from Algonquin Forestry Authority:
  8. 8.0 8.1 Forest Management Trail. (n.d.). Retrieved from Township of Algonquin Highlands:
  9. 9.0 9.1 Sustainable Forest Management Policy. (2016). Retrieved from Algonquin Forestry Authority:
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Hendrickson, B. and R. Van Schie. 2008. WLFN presentation to the Commission on Labour & Economy regarding the Working Document “The Occupation of Forest Land in Québec and the Constitution of Forest Management Corporations” Québec City. HYPERLINK “http:// pdf” tableau.pdf Accessed on June 07, 2013.
  11. Morrison, J. 2004. Algonquin Nation Secretariat. The Algonquin Nation and land settlement in the Ottawa River watershed 1760 to 1867.
  12. Marquis, G. 2008. Review of lament for a First Nation: the Williams Treaties of Southern Ontario (by P.J. Blair). Law and Politics Book Review 18(11): 994-997.
  13. Euler, D. (2009). Algonquin Eco Watch: Algonquin Park. Retrieved from:

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