Industry and environmental groups sign document protecting forest twice the size of Germany
Today 21 member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), and nine leading environmental organizations, unveiled an unprecedented agreement – the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – that applies to 72 million hectares of public forests licensed to FPAC members. The Agreement, when fully implemented, will conserve significant areas of Canada’s vast Boreal Forest, protect threatened woodland caribou and provide a competitive market edge for participating companies.
Under the Agreement FPAC members, who manage two-thirds of all certified forest land in Canada, commit to the highest environmental standards of forest management within an area twice the size of Germany. Conservation groups commit to global recognition and support for FPAC member efforts. The Agreement calls for the suspension of new logging on nearly 29 million hectares of Boreal Forest to develop conservation plans for endangered caribou, while maintaining essential fiber supplies for uninterrupted mill operations. “Do Not Buy” campaigns by Canopy, ForestEthics and Greenpeace will be suspended while the Agreement is being implemented.
“The importance of this Agreement cannot be overstated,” said Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of FPAC. “FPAC member companies and their ENGO counterparts have turned the old paradigm on its head. 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.”
Environmental groups, including the three organizations that have been mobilizing large customers towards green products, say the coming together of two traditional adversaries reflects a new commitment to a common goal.
“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. We have a lot of work to do together to make this agreement successful and we are committed to make it happen.”
Also vital to the agreement have been the efforts of the Pew Environment Group and Ivey Foundation, which 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. 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.”
The Agreement identifies explicit commitments for both sides and sets out a plan, which includes:
- The development and implementation of world-leading forest management and harvesting practices;
- The completion of joint proposals for networks of protected areas and the recovery of species at risk including woodland caribou;
- A full life cycle approach to forest carbon management; and
- Support for the economic future of forest communities and for the recognition of conservation achievements in the global marketplace.
Signatory environmental organizations, FPAC, and the Association’s 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. Participants recognize that governments, including First Nation governments, are decision makers within their jurisdictions. The Agreement recognizes that aboriginal peoples have constitutionally protected aboriginal and treaty rights that must be respected and engaged in order for the Agreement to fulfill its objectives.
The progress made to reach the objectives laid out in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement will be regularly measured and reported on by a jointly agreed-upon independent auditor.
Read other Vancouver Observer articles about Canada's Boreal Forest.