Thick and misty forest crossed, in a clearing in the center, by a pale ray of sunshine.

The NCC is developing its first forest strategy. This strategy will guide how the NCC manages forests and trees on its lands. It will align our efforts, and prepare us to meet current and future challenges.

It will look at trees and forests in urban areas, as well as in natural areas like the Greenbelt and Gatineau Park. The strategy will provide a blueprint to make forests more diverse, connected and resilient.

The development of this strategy is in keeping with commitments made in the Plan for Canada’s Capital, 2017–2067, and the Sustainable Development Strategy, 2018–2023.

The latest on the strategy

We are in the last phase of developing the strategy, which should be finalized in April 2021.

We held a public consultation from February 16 to March 3, 2021, and received 118 responses. Respondents are eager to see the NCC protect existing trees and forests, and expand the canopy cover and ensure public access to these spaces. We are incorporating their feedback into the final version of the strategy.

The public consultation report will be available following the release of the finalized strategy.

About the strategy

Context

Adult and child planting a small tree

The importance of trees and forests

The NCC’s green network and its ecosystems provide essential benefits to people in the Capital Region. Trees and forests in particular provide many environmental, social and economic benefits:

  • helping capture or filter air pollutants through their leaves, and releasing oxygen for us to breathe
  • providing habitat for wildlife
  • protecting us from the sun, and decreasing noise pollution
  • helping to drain away excess rain and snowmelt
  • increasing property values
  • enriching the beauty of our landscapes
  • contributing to the social and psychological well-being of our communities

According to a 2016 study, the estimated value of forest ecosystems on NCC lands is $174 million per year.

The economic value of the NCC's green network

Forests managed by the NCC

A 2019 study mapped and measured the size of the extensive tree canopy in Canada’s Capital Region. It found that 74 percent of NCC-managed lands are forested. Gatineau Park alone contributes over 30,000 hectares of tree canopy, and the Greenbelt contributes about 7,000 hectares. The tree canopy is not evenly distributed, with many areas having far less than the regional average of 46 percent.

The data from this study informed the drafting of the NCC’s Forest Strategy.

2019 tree canopy study

Long-term vision

A vision statement is a declaration of a project’s aspirations. It shapes decision making, and serves as a road map to set up and reach goals.

The Forest Strategy includes the following vision for the next 30 years, which describes the strategy’s desired outcomes:

Trees and forests on federal lands in Canada’s Capital region are diverse, connected and resilient. They provide essential ecosystem services, heritage and cultural landscapes, and promote health and well-being equitably for residents and visitors.

Goals, objectives and actions

The Forest Strategy includes five overarching goals that support the vision:

  • Understand our trees and forests
  • Protect existing canopy cover
  • Plant the right trees in the right place
  • Manage for resilience, safety and efficiency
  • Engage with partners and the community

Under these goals, we have identified nine long-term objectives and 20 short-term actions. The objectives are the long-term tactics that the NCC will pursue to achieve the vision. Actions are the measures we will undertake in the next five years to meet the objectives and the vision.

Full draft

To learn more about the full range of proposals, read the draft Forest Strategy.

Engagement

Indigenous peoples

In the development of the Forest Strategy, the NCC engaged with the Algonquin communities of Pikwakanagan and Kitigan Zibi.

Public and stakeholder

As part of this planning process, we engaged the public and various stakeholder groups in 2019 and in 2021. We also sought feedback throughout the project from the NCC’s Board of Directors. For an overview of what we have heard throughout this process, see the public consultation report.