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Peace in the woods?

 

“Peace in the woods gets industry and enviros more of what each wants.”

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement was born today, brought to life by a large group of environmental groups and forestry companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada.  Forest campaign groups such as Greenpeace Canada will suspend their campaigns aimed at customers and investors of many forest companies in exchange for deeper commitments to conservation measures, among them more protected areas, stronger caribou conservation, and ecosystem-based management.  Some companies, including Abitibi-Bowater, had been targets of markets campaign groups.

The word “suspend” suggests that the Agreement is more of a cease-fire and truce than permanent peace treaty yet, but hopes are very high that working together will bring greater rewards for all and a new era of co-operation.

Woodland Caribou  © GaryAndJoanieMcGuffin.com / WWF-Canada

The endangered Woodland Caribou stand to benefit from historic deal.

© GaryAndJoanieMcGuffin.com / WWF-Canada

Today’s announcement affects some 72 million hectares of public forests (an area bigger than Alberta), managed by 21 member companies of FPAC from B.C. to Newfoundland.  New logging will be suspended on 40% of this, or 29 million hectares.  Once fully implemented, the deal will help conserve boreal forests and their species, such as woodland caribou, and provide a competitive market edge for participating companies.

Forest companies acknowledged that their primary customers in the U.S. and Europe are demanding greener wood and paper.  For the much-embattled forest sector, access to key overseas markets is a vital step to securing the future of forest companies and forest jobs in Canada.  Suspension by enviros of their “Do Not Buy” campaigns, while the Agreement is being implemented, along with support for greener products in the marketplace, should translate to the bottom line.

It may come as a surprise to many, but the environmental groups involved in the Agreement have a strong history of promoting Forest Stewardship Council certification for better managed forests.  And several companies have considerable FSC-certified woodlands already.  Voices of change were being heard, now greatly amplified across boreal Canada.  Consumers can support the lower-impact harvesting by buying wood and paper with the FSC logo.

The Forest Stewardship Council serves as the reference standard for management practices envisioned, though other competing systems will be examined for contributions to what “ecosystem-based management” should mean in the boreal forests of Canada.  Keeping FSC working, effective and strengthened through this Agreement will be key to watch for, since so much investment has been made in FSC by leading companies and environmental groups, especially by WWF ever since FSC’s founding in Canada in 1993.

The Agreement is a boreal descendant of sorts to the 2009 Great Bear Rainforest solution for coastal B.C.  Elder ancestors include the visionary 2003 Boreal Forest Conservation Framework and the 2001 WWF-Tembec Joint Agreement on Forest Management.  The WWF-Tembec precedent saw the first industrial-scale commitment in Canada to Forest Stewardship Council standards for better woodlands management, leading to FSC certification for all 16 million hectares Tembec manages, an area some three times the size of Nova Scotia.  WWF helped Alberta-Pacific and Domtar take comparable FSC steps, charting a path that winds to today’s historic announcement.

Congrats to all signatories to the truce, including the Ivey Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts.  Much work lies ahead to keep the peace, but it sure beats the warring alternative.


  • Darryl Stec says:

    There are actually loads of details like that to take into consideration. That may be a great level to convey up. I provide the ideas above as general inspiration however clearly there are questions just like the one you convey up the place a very powerful factor shall be working in trustworthy good faith. I don?t know if greatest practices have emerged round issues like that, however I am positive that your job is clearly recognized as a fair game. Both girls and boys really feel the impact of just a second’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  • Robert says:

    I am a big believer in conservation, we have practised it for time in memomorial. We take what we need and leave the rest. We are stewards over our own lands. Not some big companies and thier interests. These are our lands we as native peoples have to have collective aggreements negoiated to protect sensitive areas and species at risk. You do not include us when you nake these agreements, so we read about them in newsletters or annoucements and on TV. WE also need to make a living we have been impoverished for way to long. We live here and these decisions about our land and peoples are made hundreds and often thousands of miles away. Resource extraction and other activities like mining have left our lands polluted and toxic, often with no benefit other than some jobs and with no revenue sharing by big corporations.

  • Sara Falconer, WWF-Canada says:

    Hi Chris, Davia and Marshall. Thanks for your feedback on this.

    As WWF-Canada is not a signatory in the CBFA, we can’t speak for the signatories. Your questions should be addressed to the contacts at http://www.canadianborealforestagreement.com/

  • Chris Spitta says:

    I support the questions by Leslie – very important issues, and I wonder whether WWF ever bothers to answer them, especially since I have the feeling that a number of the answers will actually be quite an “inconvenient truth” for WWF and other NGOs…

    In case WWF doesn’t bother to answer, I encourage all readers to read the agreement in detail and think about the politics involved – and many of the answers will reveal themselves… then, come back and ask WWF further questions!

  • Davia Ezekiel says:

    Congratulations!

    Environmentally, it sounds huge!

    Just a question.

    Can you please tell me what”provide a competitive market edge for participating companies” exactly means? What companies does this statement refer to.

    Thank you
    D. Ezekiel

  • In the light of this historic agreement there are many questions yet to be addressed including:

    1) Is the Coast Forest Conservation Initiative of 1999 the model for the CBFA?
    2) Are only FPAC members signators to CBFA and if so why?
    3) Why did WWF, Sierra Club, EcoJustice and the National Aboriginal Forestry Assoc. not participate?
    4) Why did CSA, FSC and SFI not participate?
    5) Can non-FPAC forest companies, ENGOs, First Nations, provinces and certification programs sign and participate in the CBFA?
    6) Where is the full text of the 90 page agreement? Since this agreement takes place exclusively on public lands will all stakeholders have access to the full agreement in order to understand what has been negotiated on their behalf?
    7) Can the 3 year term of the agreement be extended?
    8) What is the role of the forest owners – provincial governments?
    9) What happens if a province does not participate in the CBFA?
    10) What is the impact on current provincial forest tenure negotiations?
    11) What is the role of First Nations and why were they absent?
    12) What are the provisions for public consultation?
    13) Will representatives of forest communities in the Boreal be allowed to participate in the CBFA?
    14) The FSC Boreal Standard quietly dropped its requirement for “informed consent” by First Nations some time ago. If “on-the-ground” FSC practices are used as a benchmark, then what manner of First Nations’ participation is contemplated?
    15) Will ENGO campaigns in other parts of Canada – BC, Great Lakes and Maritimes – be suspended?
    16) Who will pay for ENGO participation in negotiations?
    17) Who will pay for First Nations participation in negotiations?
    18) Will the implied de facto mutual recognition of CSA, FSC and SFI that is described on page 3 be formalized?
    19) The carefully chosen words in the CBFA describing “on-the-ground” use of the FSC Boreal standard is an acknowledged way of sidestepping the actual standard – so why bother using the FSC at all?
    20) Since an “on-the-ground” FSC Boreal review will inevitably expose shortfalls – does this mean chain-of-custody review?
    21) Is the much elaborated method of auditor selection in the CBFA a deliberate rebuff of the FSC’s (and its subsidiary ACI) method of selecting auditors?
    22) Is the CBFA choice of auditor selection in reality not the CSA and SFI method?
    23) Do CSA, FSC and SFI qualify as “experts” when it comes to Boreal standards?
    24) Who will choose the chair of the new “SFM Practices Experts Panel”?
    25) Who will fund the new SFM Practices Experts Panel?
    26) What is a meant in the CBFA by a “progressive policy framework for bioproducts”?
    27) If this is a markets initiative, then why were tariffs for biomass harvest not discussed?
    28) Who selects the LCA team and method?
    29) The area of withdrawals appears to be equal to the area of current market curtailment caused by the economic downturn – if this is the case then what has been gained overall?
    30) What specific contributions will ENGOs make to marketplace recognition of Boreal forest products?
    31) If the Coast Forest Conservation Initiative is the model, then will its mixed impact on forest communities be measured and applied to the CBFA?
    32) What do the CBFA signators suggest should now happen in the two-thirds of the world’s Boreal forest that lies outside Canada?

  • Lisa - WWF-Canada Online Manager says:

    Thanks Steven for making this much clearer than the news reports I’ve seen!

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