Forest Management Planning
Forests, one of Alberta's most important resources, provide many benefits to society. Sustainable Resource Development is
committed to ensuring that Alberta has strong, healthy forests for future generations to enjoy.
Alberta supports the principles of sustainable forest management and responsible stewardship. Forest management planning
is essential to sustainable forest management in Alberta.
Forest management planning does not include protected areas. This planning only provides direction for forest management
activities and does not involve public land and resources for non-forestry uses. All commercial timber dispositions carry
out forest management planning to varying degrees, depending on the type of forest tenure. For more information about forest
tenure and timber dispositions, see:
Does the government regulate forest management planning?
Yes. Under the authority of the Forests Act, Alberta has developed strict standards for forest management planning.
Each type of forest management planning document has specific requirements. There are several standards that provide guidance
for forest management planning, including:
Alberta Forest Management Planning Standard
These standards ensure consistent, thorough plan submissions. The government must approve all plans regarding forest management
in Alberta. For more information about forest management standards and practices, see:
For more information about forest management plans, see:
What happens after a timber disposition is allocated?
Once a timber disposition is allocated, an extensive planning process is used to ensure sustainability before any trees
are harvested. These plans must be approved by the Government of Alberta after consultation with the public, First Nations,
and other stakeholders.
How many types of key forest management planning documents are there in Alberta?
There are four key forest management planning documents:
Annual Operating Plan (AOP)
Annual operating plans describe in detail the harvesting and road building activities proposed for the current year. Annual
operating plans must also include details regarding reforestation and fire control plan.
Final Harvest Plan (FHP)
Final harvest plans describe the finalized harvest and road layouts. The primary components of final harvest plans are a
map and report that clearly show and document harvest area boundaries, roads and water crossings.
Forest Management Plan (FMP)
A forest management plan turns sustainable forest management commitments into action in the field. This plan summarizes
the current state of the forest, as well as the values, objectives, indicators and targets of sustainable forest management
developed through consultation with the public, First Nations and other stakeholders. Forest management plans are prepared
by Forest Management Agreement (FMA) holders and, in non-FMA Forest Management Units, by the provincial government.
For information about approved forest management plans, see:
General Development Plan (GDP)
General development plans project activities for the next five years. These documents include a forecast of the areas scheduled
for harvest. They also provide details regarding road requirements and fish and wildlife issues within the planning area.
General development plans are intended to guide the integration of activities among different operators.
Industry Ground Rules
The Timber Harvest Planning and Operating Ground Rules provide direction to forest companies and government for planning,
implementing and monitoring timber harvesting operations on timber disposition areas in Alberta.
For more information on industry ground rules, see:
Stewardship reports describe the monitoring program and how well the objectives of the forest management plan are met. Stewardship
reports are required every five years.
Is there public and First Nations involvement in planning?
Members of the general public and First Nations communities have opportunities to be involved during forest management planning.
FMA holders are required to consult with the general public and First Nations during the development of the forest management
plans. First Nations are also consulted on the general development plans. As well, the general development plans, final
harvest plans and annual operating plans are made available for public review on an annual basis.
Public consultation can include public advisory committees, town hall meetings, open houses within the community, presentations
and information on the forest tenure holder’s website. For more information, see:
What about strategic land use plans?
From time to time, Alberta prepares strategic land use plans such as Regional Sustainable Development Strategies or the
Land-use Framework, regional plans that address the integration of resource uses. Existing land use plans take precedence
over forest management plans (FMPs) and provide strategic direction that shall be honoured in the FMPs. The direction may
be through zoning, which limits activities in various zones, or by setting values, objectives, indicators or targets to
Where strategic land use plans are approved after a FMP has been approved, Alberta and the organization shall discuss implementation
of the strategic land use plan, and Alberta may require the FMP to be amended.
For more about the Land-Use Framework, see:
What is enhanced forest management?
Enhanced forest management is improvements in forest growth resulting from thinning, fertilizing, tree improvement or drainage.
These enhancements can be considered during the forest management planning process.
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Updated May 14, 2013