On Friday November 25, 2022, the Honourable Graydon Smith, Minister for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry recognized the 25th anniversary of Westwind Forest Stewardship Inc by meeting with Chair of the Board Rob Keen and General Manager Barry Davidson.
“It is an honour to recognize Westwind Forest Stewardship’s 25th anniversary,” said Minister Smith. “Westwind’s success in forest management has been vital to continued growth of the local forest sector, leading to good paying jobs and economic prosperity for communities in the region.”
Westwind was established in 1997 to assume the Sustainable Forest Licence for the 363,000 hectares of productive Crown forests lands of the French-Severn Forest. This area is bounded by Algonquin Park to the east, Georgian Bay to the west with the French and Severn Rivers roughly bounding the northern and southern boundaries. Westwind orchestrates forest management in this part of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Forest that requires complex silvicultural systems wherein partial harvesting systems predominate.
The French-Severn Forest has been recognized as a “well-managed forest” by the Forest Stewardship Council since 2002 and Westwind has been identified as an “enhanced” Sustainable Forest Licence company, acknowledging its successes in local and Indigenous community involvement, sustainable forest management and economic viability.
Westwind is unique among the 34 Sustainable Forest Licencees as it is a not-for-profit company with primary responsibilities of preparing forest management plans, gathering Crown forest information, ensuring all forestry activities occur in accordance with approved plans and operational standards.
Rob Keen explained that “Westwind was established 25 years ago by Premier Mike Harris, as a unique way to manage public forests. As the first Forest Stewardship Council certified public forest in North America, Westwind is a leader in socially and environmentally sound forestry while also supporting the region’s economic well-being.”
Forest sector businesses build prosperity and provide good paying jobs, particularly in Northern, rural and Indigenous communities across Ontario. Ontario’s forest sector generated $18 billion in revenue from the sale of manufactured goods and services in 2020 and supported more than 148,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2021.
Barry Davidson said, “The success of Westwind in reaching this 25-year milestone is due to its dedicated staff, forward thinking Board of Directors, committed forest management companies, resourceful silvicultural contractors and community partners as well as having a strong relationship with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.