TORONTO, June 28, 2012 /CNW/ - Forest company and conservation group signatories to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) welcome Ontario's support today of their approach and joint recommendations on an action plan for an area of the province's boreal forest almost five times the size of Metro Toronto.
The action plan recommendations aim to secure the future of the 3 million hectares of caribou range in the Abitibi River Forest to conserve Boreal woodland caribou and maintain hundreds of jobs in forestry.
The proposed approach and recommendations are intended to produce over 800,000 hectares of critical habitat for Boreal woodland caribou that would be excluded from harvest. The remaining 2.2 million hectares would remain open to forestry, with high standards of sustainable forest practices in place to safeguard wildlife and ecosystems.
"This proposed breakthrough plan for the Abitibi River Forest underscores that prosperity and conservation go hand-in-hand by recognizing that conservation is not at the expense of economic prosperity, but complementary to it. It is also a testament to the collective efforts of the environmental groups and companies that have been able to find common ground" said Janet Sumner, executive director of CPAWS-Wildlands League, one of Canada's leading conservation groups.
"The CBFA's cooperative, multi-stakeholder approach has produced an action plan which strengthens Canada's position as a progressive forestry leader by preserving jobs and strengthening communities, while protecting forest ecosystems and natural habitat. It is yet another example of our industry's commitment to true sustainable development. Partnering with conservation groups and other stakeholders to reach a common goal is a growing tradition for our industry, so we proudly salute this achievement and look forward to its implementation," said James Lopez, Tembec President and CEO, speaking on behalf of Canadian forestry companies.
"The Ontario government supports the collaborative efforts of the CBFA. We are encouraged by what appears to be a positive path forward and we are pleased to review the details of the recommendations, as we continue to work together to strengthen our Northern communities and create jobs, while ensuring the protection of woodland caribou," said Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle.
The historic CBFA was signed in May 2010 and now includes nine environmental organizations and the Forest Products Association of Canada and its 19 member companies and it now applies to more than 75 million hectares across the country. It is a globally significant precedent that seeks to conserve significant areas of Canada's vast Boreal Forest, protect threatened woodland caribou, and sustain a healthy forestry industry for the communities who rely on it.
This represents the first major proposal to advance under the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement that will result in large-scale conservation of critical woodland caribou habitat and sustainable local forest industry. CBFA signatories continue to work on conservation plans across Canada's Boreal forest.
Chief Linda Job of the Taykwa Tagamou Nation said the Abitibi River Forest action plan recommendations respect Aboriginal rights and is sensitive to the needs and aspirations of her government and local community.
"Our Aboriginal knowledge provided valuable information in developing the part of the woodland caribou plan for conservation, renewal and protection within our traditional territory. We had the opportunity to voice our opinions and provide input on key elements to develop the strategy to balance conservation and resource development that will improve our economic and social conditions," said Chief Job.
Tom Laughren, Mayor of Timmins and President of the Northeastern Ontario Municipal Association (NEOMA), also endorsed the recommended approach. "The NEOMA membership fully supports this approach to managing the Abitibi River Forest," said Laughren.
"We are very pleased with this tangible success achieved in Northeast Ontario. It serves as a good example of the importance of having various stakeholders working together in a truly collaborative spirit. Such an approach yields a result supporting the three pillars of sustainability - environmental, social and economic," stated Richard Garneau, President and CEO of Resolute Forest Products.
The anticipated outcomes of these recommendations are:
- Greater conservation of forested areas that are critical caribou habitat, and increased harvesting emphasis placed on areas where caribou have not been present for some time;
- An increase to over 835,000 hectares of boreal woodland caribou habitat excluded from timber harvesting;
- Approximately 2.2 million hectares that remain open to timber harvest with increased yields of spruce saw logs and pulp, but with greater conservation measures for caribou habitat; and
- An estimated 20% increase in spruce wood supply for the next 30 years from the current direction for the area.
For access to high resolution B-roll footage and photography of Northeastern Ontario Boreal forest please go to the following link and enter in the username and password "media" in lower case: http://canadianborealforestagreement.com/media-gallery
The following are signatories to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement:
Environmental Organizations (ENGOs):
Canadian Boreal Initiative, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), Canopy, David Suzuki Foundation, ForestEthics, Greenpeace, The Nature Conservancy, Pew Environment Group International Boreal Conservation Campaign, and Ivey Foundation.
Ontario Nature is a member of the Ontario Regional Working Group
Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc., AV Group, Canfor Corporation, Canfor Pulp Limited Partnership, Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company, Conifex Timber Inc., Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., Fortress Paper Ltd., Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Limited, Kruger Inc., LP Canada Ltd., Mercer International, Mill & Timber Products Ltd., Millar Western Forest Products Ltd., Resolute Forest Products, Tembec, Tolko Industries Ltd., West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., and Weyerhaeuser Company Limited - all represented by the Forest Products Association of Canada which is also a signatory.