The Model Forest program began in 1992 and was a Canadian response to address the issue of sustainable forest management. The program encouraged submissions from industrial partners working with a cross-section of partners such as community groups, first nations, government and non-governmental organizations to outline collaborative work in the area. Ten were selected, and thus the Foothills Model Forest was established. Through a small, but committed partnership that formulated ideas and put them into action, it is the partnership today that sustains this initiative, now known as the Foothills Research Institute.
The Foothills Research Institute embraces ten research programs and five associations. Each program contributes to the success of Foothills Research Institute as an entity. However, there are a number of prominent programs that have received considerable attention, such as the Grizzly Bear Program in its effort to sustain Alberta’s grizzly bear populations; the Healthy Landscapes program and its promotion of the concept of looking at management from a natural disturbance basis; and the Mountain Pine Beetle Ecology Program as it continues to support efforts to curtail the spread of mountain pine beetle. The newly established Caribou research program has been welcomed by government, industry and conservationists alike.
Synergy is undoubtedly the greatest benefit of the Foothills Research Institute, partnering with industry, governments, national and international universities, an array of environmental groups, agencies, and other like-minded groups. Managing resources is too important and too big a job for any one agency to do alone. In partnership, questions get asked and information is shared for best use. The success of the Foothills Model Forest and now the Foothills Research Institute, attests to the benefit of collaboration amongst those parties that possess the mutual desire to see Alberta’s natural resources managed sustainably.
Dr. Rick Bonar, President, Foothills Research Institute, accepted the ACR Environmental Award on behalf of his organization and emphasized the importance of partnerships in fueling its long-term and continuing success.
Pictured: Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Hon. Robin Campbell and Dr. Rick Bonar.