Canopy helps reclaim caribou’s forest home: 170 million acres

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  Neva Murtha in front of slide showing non-sustainable logging practices


Neva Murtha, printer and magazine campaigner for Canopy, spoke about Canopy’s work educating companies on sustainable alternatives to paper. 100% post consumer recycled paper and paper made from agricultural residue like wheat straw is rated as #1 first source for environmentally superior paper. Straw paper is not produced in North America right now because paper mills that have been designed to use pulp from virgin tree fiber might need to be retrofitted. (This could cost $50-200 million. A new wheat straw paper facility with plans to build in Manitoba is estimating a cost of $600 million.) There is also recycled content paper, non-wood products, and the use of cleaner techniques like chlorine-free paper as other sustainable options.


“The Paper Steps” document in the website,, gives more details on different types of environmentally sustainable paper. A percentage of pulp from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified operations also gets a superior rating. FSC certification for a mill means the mill can track FSC fiber volumes going through the mill and produce FSC certified paper.


Forest Stewardship Council and Ancient Forest Friendly (Canopy’s designation and trademark) paper logos  FSC logo details can be found at this website:


Third party certification like FSC provides a third party guarantee that that mill is making the paper they say they are making. Without third party certification like FSC, there is currently no guarantee that some companies are not deliberately misrepresenting their paper as recycled when it is not. FSC Canada has a list of all FSC certified printing companies in Canada. Murtha has created a database of about 350 best eco-papers available in North America which anyone can send to her/his printing company requesting that particular paper be used for a specific print job.


Now big publishing companies like Maclean’s, owned by Rogers Publishing, are pushing the supply chain to stop sourcing from endangered forests. They are demanding their paper companies and mills get FSC certification. The next 20 years are critical times for reducing our carbon emissions and significant change must be seen in the next five years. Re-planting trees is no longer the solution. In places like British Columbia, governments are not accounting for the huge carbon emissions that result from forest degradation associated with logging.


Rycroft said Canopy has succeeded because it is not always the big guy who wins. How and when influence is used has been a very successful strategy for them. Because mills live and die based on whether or not their contracts are cancelled, the influence of market leverage is what created the conditions for this Agreement. The marketplace is the key. Canopy works through pre-established, long-term relationships with big publishing companies like the Globe and Mail and Random House who were buying from the boreal forests.  Rycroft indicated there has been a huge shift in environmental consciousness of late. Some big company executives are excited they can bring their care and concern about the planet and the forests to their work. Because of their purchasing influence, they have become some of the most powerful advocates for the boreal forest and its creatures. The combination of their concern and Canopy providing a vehicle and structure for systemic change has had an incredible impact. Rycroft said there would be no boreal agreement without companies like Rogers Publishing and Hearst Corporation.


The Canadian Boreal Initiative environmental organization has worked with many First Nations peoples over the last eight years of this campaign while Canopy’s role has been to focus on the marketplace. This is an example of how the nine environmental groups involved worked collaboratively, drawing on and sharing their expertise and strengths to define their respective roles in the process.


Forestry and environmental groups negotiated in private over the last two years until they were ready to announce their agreement in May. Now it is time for the federal, provincial, and First Nations governments to be equally involved as the decision-makers legitimizing the Agreement. It was acknowledged from the beginning that if the two initial groups could come to an agreement, then the next step would be to take it to these three bodies of government for input and approval.


Rycroft said that Canopy’s vision is not pushing the envelope but rather designing the envelope, generating new models of change to create a new world we can all live in.


When asked what is next for Canopy, Rycroft replied, “Sustainability differs around the world and we can’t use a cookie-cutter approach…perhaps the South American or Indonesian rainforest…why not a whole continent next?”


Read more articles by Kathie.

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