Forest Laws

Legislation refers to a law or “Act” that contains binding, enforceable rules of conduct created by legislation, court decisions and custom. Regulations are provided for under an Act of the Ontario Legislature to give effect to certain details or provisions within the general authority of the legislation.


Ontario relies on a number of progressive laws to administer and regulate the protection and sustained use of Ontario’s forest lands and resources in an environmentally sound manner.

Ontario's key forest law and regulations:

Forest related laws in effect in Ontario

Search and view all of Ontario's laws at: Ontario's E-laws website

Ontario’s key forest law - Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994, S.O. 1994, c. 25


The Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA) defines forest sustainability and provides mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of Ontario’s Crown forests. The Act provides for the administration and regulation of forest management planning, forest resource agreements and licences, information management, forest operations, revenue collection, trust funds, compliance, remedies and enforcement mechanisms; allows for the management of all forest-based values; and, relies on several manuals to guide various aspects of forest management activities. The CFSA is legally binding on provincial government agencies including MNR.


CFSA regulations are:

  • Ontario Regulation 167/95 GENERAL - provides for the regulation of matters identified in CFSA Section 69. These matters include manuals regulated under the CFSA, terms and conditions of forest resource licenses, amendment, cancellation or transfer of forest resources licences; licensing of scalers; terms and conditions of forest processing facilities; and revenues (referred to as Crown charges).
  • Ontario Regulation 160/04 INDEPENDENT FOREST AUDITS - provides for the regulation of independent forest audits required under CFSA Section 69.

Documents required under the CFSA:


In Ontario, MNR ensures that forests in a management unit designated under the CFSA are managed in a sustainable manner consistent with the long-term objectives set out in a forest management plan.  After the sustainable supply of wood is determined for the management unit, forest resource disposition occurs based on demand and access is afforded to forest industry companies primarily through socio-economic based policy instruments including supply agreements and licences for harvesting and processing forest resources. 


Forest Related Laws in Effect in Ontario


Federal forest laws


A number of federal forest-related laws also govern aspects of forest management activities in Ontario. These laws include the Constitution Act, the Fisheries Act and the Pest Control Products Act.


Ministry of Natural Resources forest laws


In addition to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA), the MNR either administers or has responsibility under more than 40 provincial laws. These laws deal with resource management and conservation issues related to forestry, provincial parks, conservation authorities, fisheries, wildlife, water resources, aviation, firefighting, public lands, privately owned lands and aboriginal resource matters.

Other provincial forest laws


A number of other provincial laws also govern aspects of forest management. These laws include Ontario's two key environmental laws, the Environmental Assessment Act and the Environmental Bill of Rights, which affect forestry activities on Crown lands in Ontario as follows:


Environmental Assessment Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.18


Requirements for forest management activities on Crown lands in Ontario are approved under the Environmental Assessment Act and are referred to as MNR’s Forest Management Class Environmental Assessment. The current requirements are set out in the Ministry of the Environment Declaration Order MNR-71 regarding MNR’s Class Environmental Assessment Approval for Forest Management on Crown Lands in Ontario (June 2003) as amended.


The Declaration Order defines broad direction for forest management planning and complements the forest management planning principles in the CFSA and, extends and amends the 1994 Environmental Assessment Act approval to allow MNR to continue forest management planning on Crown lands in Ontario, subject to a number of legally binding conditions pertaining to a wide range of routine or recurring activities related to forest access, harvest, renewal, maintenance and their planning on Crown land.


Detailed technical direction for forest management continues to be applied through the Forest Management Planning Manual.


Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993, S.O. 1993, c. 28 


The Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) for the Ministry of Natural Resources is approved under the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR). MNR’s SEV explains how the purposes of the EBR will be applied when decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the Ministry; and, how consideration of the purposes of the EBR will be integrated with other social, economic and scientific considerations that are part of MNR decision-making. MNR is committed to fulfilling its obligations under the Environmental Bill of Rights and to public involvement.