Creating jobs through the responsible management of Alberta forests

Minister Dreeshen, MLAs, Mayor Genung, and staff from Spray Lake Sawmills and Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd. at Spray Lake.

Alberta’s government is entering into a new forest management agreement (FMA) with Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd. Over its 20-year term, the new agreement can mean up to approximately:

  • $32 million in increased payments to the province in the form of timber dues, holding and protection charge payments
  • $225 million to Alberta’s GDP

It also means reliable, well-paying jobs for hundreds of hard-working Albertans. In 2019, direct employment by the companies contributed more than $16 million in salaries and wages, with an average salary of over $80,000.

“I’m honoured to announce Alberta’s first forest management agreement since 2009. Alberta’s foresters are the best in the world and help protect our 87 million acres of forests. Foresters develop 200 year forest plans, replant two trees for every one they harvest, reduce wildfire risk, combat tree pest and disease, and create good paying jobs with long term investments in our province.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

“We applaud the Government of Alberta for the Forest Jobs Action Plan to provide secure access to wood fibre. The conversion of our timber quotas to a forest management agreement is an important step in the long history of the company. It provides the tenure security vital for our continued investment in the company, in our people and in the surrounding communities.”

Barry Mjolsness, Owner and President, Spray Lake Sawmills

Forest Management Agreements

An FMA is the most secure type of forest tenure, providing a company with rights to establish, grow, harvest and remove timber on Crown land in a manner consistent with sustainable forest management principles and practices. FMAs also establish numerous legal obligations for companies, including the development of forest management plans. They provide sustainable forest management for all Albertans, protect biodiversity, increase forest resilience and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and mountain pine beetle outbreaks.

This FMA does not increase the amount of wood the company can harvest. However, it does provide them with secure and sustainable fibre access for the next 20 years. Both companies have long histories of managing Crown forests and attaining a variety of third-party certifications for sustainable forest management. While there is no legal obligation to hold these certifications, they demonstrate a commitment to responsible forest management principles and practices, as well as Indigenous engagement. The FMA commits them to increased environmental stewardship—including water conservation—and indigenous consultation.

Forest Management Planning

The development of forest management plans is an important legal obligation for FMA holders, turning commitments into action in the field on environmental practises. FMAs bolster the reforestation obligations of the harvester, requiring them to plant two trees for every tree felled.

The current forest management plan for the area is in effect until 2026. Future plans will be prepared by Crowsnest Forest Products Ltd. with the objective of ensuring that the long-term objectives, principles and practices of sustainable forest management are maintained and consistent with the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. Indigenous, stakeholder and public consultations take place before a forest management plan is considered for approval by the government. With respect to this FMA, the Government of Alberta consulted with seven First Nations: the Blood Tribe, Stoney (Chiniki) Band, Piikani Nation, Stoney (Wesley) Band, Siksika Nation, Tsuut’ina Nation, and Stoney (Bearpaw) Band.

Forest Jobs Action Plan

The new FMA is in alignment with the Forest Jobs Action Plan initiative to provide companies with secure access to wood fibre.

FMAs help make forestry a key component of Alberta’s recovery by committing sustainable, long-term fibre access for forest companies, while enabling our forests to continue to provide environmental, social and cultural benefits that can be enjoyed by future generations.

Quick Facts

  • This is the first new FMA Alberta has entered into since Weyerhaeuser Company Limited (Pembina Timberland)’s FMA was established in 2009.
  • An FMA is a long-term (20-year), renewable, area-based form of forest tenure and is the most secure tenure type in Alberta.
  • Through an FMA, a company is given certain rights, including the right to establish, grow, harvest and remove Crown timber, in exchange for various responsibilities such as forest management planning and creation, and maintenance of the forest inventory within the boundary of the FMA.
  • Alberta retains all of its roles and responsibilities as regulator and Crowsnest Forest Products will continue to have the legal obligation to comply with Alberta’s strict legislation, regulations and policies to ensure sustainable forest management. This includes ensuring that:
    • Appropriate environmental practices are followed, such as approved watercourse crossings and reclamation.
    • Areas are promptly reforested following harvesting activities.
    • Companies operate within their approved annual allowable cut and minimize wood waste.
  • The area in the new agreement is Forest Management Unit (FMU) C5, and is located west of Lethbridge.
  • *The new FMA excludes the Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park.
  • FMU C5 encompasses approximately 3,511 square kilometres of public land.

*Editor's note: This version was updated from the original version on July 22, 2021.