Technical Bulletins & Special Reports

Technical Bulletin No. 1075: Potential Contributions of Forest Management Areas as Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs)

Over the past few decades, several international treaties have been developed to implement coordinated efforts to minimize the loss of biodiversity worldwide, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international treaty with 193 member countries. In 2010, the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 included 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which address each of the five strategic goals defined in the plan.

A new conservation designation, Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs), was introduced within the CBD’s Aichi Target 11 and aims to protect at least 17% of the world’s terrestrial and inland water and 10% of the coastal and marine areas by 2020. As a signatory under the CBD, Canada is obligated to develop a national strategy to conserve biological diversity, which it did in 2015 with the release of its 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada.

This strategy includes four goals and nineteen targets, including Target 1, whereby Canada has committed to conserve the same proportions of terrestrial and inland water and coastal and marine areas identified in Aichi Target 11. At the end of 2020, Canada achieved its coastal and marine conservation target (13.8%), mainly through marine OECMs, but failed to meet its conservation target for terrestrial land and inland waters (12.1%).

Because Canada is rich in natural capital, it is uniquely positioned to achieve its terrestrial conservation goals for several reasons: (1) it is the second largest country in the world; (2) it includes an engaged forest sector that manages large proportions of land that are set aside from active forest management and thus could contribute to additional OECMs in the future; and, (3) it is currently a world leader in OECM application.

Canada’s forest sector has long been interested in effective conservation of biodiversity over the long term within the lands it manages, and there may be related opportunities to contribute to OECMs. Further, a significant portion of the Canadian landmass is under long-term forest management agreements, through which areas are also managed for non-timber goals and values such as biodiversity and habitat conservation.

Canada remains committed to conserving even more of its lands for biodiversity in the future, but significant hurdles must be overcome before fully embracing OECMs as a conservation option towards meeting its national and international commitments. These include a lack of clear mechanisms, limited information and knowledge exchange, a disconnect between government and non-government organizations and industry, and limited resources (staff and financial) to evaluate areas for suitability as OECMs.

In this report, NCASI outlines Canada’s commitments to the CBD and its national strategy for conserving biodiversity, provides an overview of OECMs, and outlines their possible application within Canada’s managed forests.