THUNDER BAY, ON, July 10, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers renewed their commitment to working together on key opportunities and challenges for Canada's forest sector, including innovation, demonstrating sustainable forest management, Aboriginal engagement, and the Softwood Lumber Agreement.
During the one day meeting, forest ministers from across the country agreed to work together to ensure sustainable forest management - based on science, and to support the economic vitality of the country's forest industry. With input from industry, the Council discussed ways to enhance innovation to maintain Canada's competitive advantage, strongly endorsing the principles of the Kenora Declaration on Forest Innovation, and committing to continue to work together on the priorities identified through the July 9th Innovation Summit.
"Canada's leadership in developing innovative technologies and sustainable forest management will help ensure the success of our forest industry," said the Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario. "By continuing to develop and commercialize new products and technologies, we will advance our international competitiveness, create jobs and enhance environmental protection."
Ministers also highlighted Canada's forest industry as an environmental leader, pointing to this country's stringent regulatory frameworks, science-based ecosystem management, robust community engagement and our substantial efforts in conservation and protected areas. This leadership is demonstrated by the 161 million hectares of forest land that are independently recognized as being sustainably managed - more than any other country in the world. They discussed the importance of accurate, scientific evidence to counter inaccuracies in the public discourse and promote public confidence to maintain access to markets. Recognizing the significant economic implications of misinformation, Ministers committed to taking direct action to communicate the industry's foundational environmental excellence and ensure both domestic and international customers recognize Canadian forest products as the environmentally preferable option they have been proven to be. Ministers also remain committed to positioning Canada as a leader in sustainable forest management and environmental stewardship, with a view to protecting and enhancing market access for Canadian forest products.
"We all understand how important the forest industry is for communities throughout Canada and for our broader economy," said the Honourable Bill Mauro, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "These meetings provide us with an important opportunity to work together, and to reaffirm our commitment to the sustainable management of Canada's forests and the economic success of our forest industry."
The Council met with Aboriginal business representatives, and acknowledged the significant role Aboriginal entrepreneurs and community-based businesses play in the forest sector. Ministers recognized the need for continued engagement of Aboriginal Peoples in forestry initiatives, including efforts to connect the next-generation with forest industry opportunities. This was highlighted by the announcement of CCFM sponsorship of the Forest Products Association of Canada's Skills Award for Aboriginal Youth Scholarship Program. This sponsorship will enable a second award to be given in 2015-2016 to a post-secondary student with a strong academic standing and a demonstrated commitment to the forest products industry and the Aboriginal community.
CCFM Ministers also met with a representative of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development to discuss the future of the Softwood Lumber Agreement, signalling the importance of the American market in the trade of lumber products. Provinces and territories have indicated support for a renewal of the SLA to bring continued stability and predictability to the lumber industry.
The Canadian Council of Forest Ministers was established in 1985 to provide a forum for federal, provincial and territorial governments to work cooperatively to address issues of common interest. The CCFM provides leadership on national and international issues and sets direction for the stewardship and sustainable management of Canada's forests.
SOURCE Natural Resources Canada