The year 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the announcement of the International Model Forest Network (IMFN).

The IMFN was first brought to the world’s attention at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, where Canada dedicated $10 million to pilot a small number of Model Forests outside of Canada based upon an innovative domestic program that was showing promise across the country.

Today, what started as 10 Model Forests across Canada has grown into a global network of 60 Model Forests in 30 countries on five continents, encompassing 100 million hectares of a wide variety of forest ecosystems and landscapes, and thousands of partners. The Clayoquot Forest Communities Program (CFCP) joined the network in 2007. As a partnership between Ecotrust Canada and the five Nuu-chah-Nulth First Nations in Clayoquot Sound (Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, Toquaht and Yuutu?it?aht), the CFCP has initiated several innovative programs aimed at assisting communities transition their local economies as the forest sector rapidly evolves.

The work being done in the CFCP is mirrored by other Model Forests across the world. Through the IMFN, which operates on a solid foundation of knowledge sharing and networking, Model Forests, stakeholders and international partners successfully work together towards the sustainable management of large landscapes and ecosystems. Over the past 20 years, this collaborative approach has contributed significantly to the knowledge base of natural resource management and demonstrated an on-the-ground application of the principles of sustainable development.

Here’s to another 20 years (and more) of looking after our forests for the future.