Canadian Forest Industry, Groups Forge Agreement

Twenty-one member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and nine leading environmental organizations on May 18 unveiled an agreement – the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – that applies to 72 million hectares of public forests licensed to FPAC members. When fully implemented, the agreement will help conserve significant areas of Canada’s vast Boreal Forest, protect threatened woodland caribou and provide a competitive market edge for participating companies.

FPAC members, who manage two-thirds of all certified forest land in Canada, committed to the highest environmental standards of forest management within an area twice the size of Germany. Conservation groups committed 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, FPAC president and chief executive officer. “FPAC member companies and their ENGO counterparts have turned the old paradigm on its head."

Environmental groups, including the three organizations that have been mobilizing large customers toward 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.

Steve Kallick, director of the Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign, 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.” 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.

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