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A portrait of Canadian woodlot owners in 2003

Dansereau, Jean-Pierre, deMarsh, Peter
Forestry chronicle 2003 v.79 no.4 pp. 774-778
disasters, ecosystem services, educational materials, forest industries, forests, funding, income, landscapes, market access, markets, ownership, prices, property tax, silviculture, wood, Canada
Woodlots have been a prominent part of the Canadian rural landscape since the European settlement of Canada. In addition to their social and economic importance, woodlots contribute significantly to the environment. Their importance varies widely among provinces but nearly 10% of Canadian non-reserved productive forests are woodlots. Woodlots belong to over 450 000 families whose reasons for owning them are diverse. The annual average revenue from a woodlot is low but, as a whole, they play a valuable economic role in the forest industry's wood supply. Total woodlot owner annual revenues are estimated at $1.5 billion (Canadian). Managing a private woodlot in a sustainable way is a challenge with economic and environmental dimensions, which is easier met with support from society. Three types of tools have been developed to support the stewardship commitment of woodlot owners: woodlot owner organisations, laws and regulations (including tax legislation) and incentive and support programs. It is difficult to foresee what the future holds for woodlot owners but important issues are identified: expansion of regulations, limits to market access and prices that do not reflect the costs of sustainable practices, growing fragmentation of woodlots and an increase in single-use ownership, decline of the contribution of woodlots to the economy and a less active contribution to environmental services. Potential outcomes are explored. With a complete, widely available set of financial and educational tools, owners will increase the production of a range of goods and services. Provincial government policies that offset market distortions, that provide financial support for silviculture and the costs of environmental services and natural disasters, and income and property tax policies that encourage sustainable practices will be essential tools in supporting the efforts of woodlot owners to realize the full potential of the forest resource they collectively own.