Forest Companies, Conservationists Join to Protect Canada’s Boreal Forest

Forest Companies, Conservationists Join to Protect Canada’s Boreal Forest

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada, May 18, 2010 (ENS) – In a deal that marks the coming together of two traditional adversaries, environmental groups and the member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada today agreed to manage a broad swath of northern boreal forest to the highest environmental standards.

Under the agreement, the 21 FPAC member companies, who manage two-thirds of all certified forest land in Canada, commit to the highest environmental standards of forest management within 72 million hectares (277,993 square miles) of public forests licensed to FPAC members from British Columbia in the west to Newfoundland and Labrador in eastern Canada.

Boreal forest in Manitoba (Photo by Nancy Clark)

Nine conservation groups commit to global recognition and support for FPAC member efforts. “Do Not Buy” campaigns by the groups Canopy, ForestEthics and Greenpeace will be suspended while the agreement is being implemented.

New logging will be suspended on nearly 29 million hectares (111,969 square miles) of boreal forest to develop conservation plans for threatened woodland caribou, while maintaining essential fiber supplies for uninterrupted mill operations.

“This is our best chance to save woodland caribou, permanently protect vast areas of the Boreal Forest and put in place sustainable forestry practices,” said Richard Brooks, spokesperson for participating environmental organizations and Forest Campaign coordinator of Greenpeace Canada.

“Concerns from the public and the marketplace about wilderness conservation and species loss have been critical drivers in arriving at this agreement,” Brooks said. “We have a lot of work to do together to make this agreement successful and we are committed to make it happen.”

“The importance of this agreement cannot be overstated,” said FPAC President and CEO Avrim Lazar. “Together we have identified a more intelligent, productive way to manage economic and environmental challenges in the boreal that will reassure global buyers of our products’ sustainability.”

“It’s gratifying to see nearly a decade of industry transformation and hard work greening our operations is culminating in a process that will set a forestry standard that will be the envy of the world,” Lazar said.

Woodland caribou (Photo by Walter)

The agreement is a three-year roadmap with mechanisms to allow for its extension. To keep the work on track and moving forward, the signatories have created a series of timelines and goals. These touchstones, along with the implementation of the agreement, will be periodically audited by a jointly selected independent auditing firm that will report publicly.

Canada’s boreal forest covers about one third of the circumpolar boreal forest that rings the Northern Hemisphere. Native boreal trees include: black spruce, white spruce, balsam fir, larch, lodgepole pine, jack pine, aspens, cottonwood and white birch, and balsam poplar.

The Canadian boreal forest shelters an estimated five billion landbirds, both resident and migratory species, and contains the largest area of wetlands of any ecosystem of the world.

The agreement covers development and implementation of “world-leading, on-the-ground sustainable forest management practices that best reflect the principles of ecosystem-based management in the Boreal Forest.”

There will be joint proposals for networks of protected areas and for the recovery of species at risk, including woodland caribou.

The agreement provides for action on climate change as it relates to forest conservation and forest product life cycles.

Boreal owl in Ontario (Photo by Larry Scacchetti)

The plan features support for the economic future of forest communities and for the recognition of conservation achievements in the global marketplace.

Work in the early stages will include identifying the areas of climate and energy policy that intersect with forest management and conservation, and creating a work plan for developing joint positions.

Signatory environmental organizations, as well as FPAC and its member companies, have begun meetings with provincial governments, First Nations and local communities across the country to seek their leadership and full participation in advancing the goals of the agreement.

The Pew Environment Group and Ivey Foundation worked to support the two sides coming together and to facilitate the negotiations.

“For years we have helped bring opposing parties together to conserve this global treasure, Canada’s boreal forest,” said Steve Kallick, director of the Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign.

“We’re thrilled that this effort has led to the largest commercial forest conservation plan in history, which could not have happened without both sides looking beyond their differences,” Kallick said. “As important as today’s announcement is, our ultimate success will be measured by how we tackle the work ahead to put this plan into practice.”

Forestry Companies Participating in the Agreement: AbitibiBowater, Alberta Pacific Forest Industries, AV Group, Canfor, Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company, Cascades Inc., DMI, F.F. Soucy, Inc., Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, Kruger Inc., LP Canada, Mercer International, Mill & Timber Products Ltd, NewPage Port Hawkesbury Ltd, Papier Masson Ltee, SFK Pulp, Tembec Inc., Tolko Industries, West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd, Weyerhaeuser Company Limited – all represented by the Forest Products Association of Canada.

Environmental Organizations Participating in the Agreement: Canadian Boreal Initiative, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canopy (formerly Markets Initiative), the David Suzuki Foundation, ForestEthics, Greenpeace, Ivey Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s support for boreal forest conservation has been critical to the collective efforts of these groups.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.

Continue Reading