For more than 20 years, the International Model Forest Network (IMFN) has been implementing a participatory, landscape-level approach to the sustainable management of natural resources.
The Model Forest approach offers an effective and flexible process that creates broad partnerships and represents the environmental, social and economic forces at play on the landscape.
Within the IMFN, regional Model Forest networks were created to more effectively define, articulate and manage regional programs of work by those who know the area best.
Each site is intended to be a “model” from which others could learn and advance their sustainability goals.
History of the IMFN
The Model Forest approach was first developed and implemented by the Government of Canada in the early 1990's, on 10 sites across the country.
It was a response to a period of intense conflict in Canada’s forest sector at a time when environmentalists, governments, indigenous peoples, communities and forest workers were struggling over forest resources and how to manage them in a sustainable manner.
The approach showed immediate promise as people came to the table to find common solutions to the issues they faced, including logging practices, biodiversity conservation and economic stability among others.
The development of an International Model Forest Network was announced by Canada’s prime minister at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro.
From the beginning, Model Forests promoted the idea of forming partnerships to provide a neutral forum where a range of values and interests could be represented, and where a desire to experiment with new ideas under a common goal of sustainable development could occur.