Alberta-Pacific awarded FSC Certification
By Pulp & Paper Canada
By Pulp & Paper Canada
BOYLE, AB — Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited certifier, SmartWood, in recognition of its forest management practices….
BOYLE, AB — Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited certifier, SmartWood, in recognition of its forest management practices.
The certification of 5.5 million hectares of Al-Pac’s forest management area in northeastern Alberta represents the largest FSC-certified forest in the world. FSC is recognized internationally as one of the most independent, rigorous and credible forest certification systems.
It took a total of five years of planning, including a 12-day intensive field audit and a comprehensive 10-month assessment according to FSC Canada’s National Boreal Standard, which conforms to FSC’s 10 international principles and 56 criteria that reflect regional conditions and practices to be applied in a well-managed Canadian Boreal Forest.
“This FSC certification independently validates the direction we have taken as a company since we started operations in 1993,” said Andy Niegel, the company’s general manager and vice president of operations. “The achievement also exemplifies our team members’ commitment to continuous improvement and to ensuring the forest is well managed and forest values are protected.”
Niegel confirmed that Al-Pac chose to pursue FSC certification because of its credibility in the global marketplace, track record as a results-oriented independent organization, its endorsement by Aboriginal people, conservation groups and business and its focus on achieving social, economic and environmental standards.
“FSC certification is a good fit for our company, our customers and our position in the global market,” Niegel explained. The certification has also come at a time when the company has experienced an increase in demand for FSC-certified products, and feels the accreditation will now facilitate its attempt to meet customer requests. “We are now able to satisfy requests we are receiving from customers worldwide who are introducing FSC-certified paper and seeking suppliers of FSC-certified Kraft pulp,” he added.
Alberta-Pacific’s Forest Management Agreement Area (FMA) is within publicly owned land that is awarded by the Province of Alberta’s Department of Sustainable Resource Development.
“The Alberta Government supports any initiative that enhances forest practices and the sustainable management of Alberta forests,” noted Sustainable Resource Development Minister David Coutts. “We congratulate Alberta-Pacific on the company’s significant achievement.”
FSC’s Executive Director International Heiko Liedeker says the size and location of Alberta-Pacific’s forest area will have a ripple effect on the supply and demand for FSC-certified products on the global market.
“We expect other companies and other countries to take notice of the achievement of Alberta-Pacific and the progress of Canada in embracing the responsible management of their forests, particularly in the boreal forest,” said Liedeker. “We know from our surveys that the demand for many FSC-certified products is greater than the supply. Customers and consumers are becoming more aware and are requesting more products from well-managed forests, which now includes Alberta-Pacific’s forest.”
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Ducks Unlimited were instrumental in helping the company meet ecosystem management objectives relating to forest, ecology and wildlife required under FSC certification. They also assisted Alberta-Pacific in identifying High Conservation Value Forests and areas that should be deferred from harvest and act as ecological benchmarks to compare to harvested landscapes.
“Alberta-Pacific’s successful approach to responsible forest management demonstrates that good forestry practices can also be good for business,” said WWF Canada president Mike Russill. “The certification of 13.6 million acres of boreal forest in western Canada will result in more choices for the increasing number of environmentally-conscious consumers who want FSC-certified products and will help ensure communities that rely on Alberta’s forests for their livelihoods will continue to prosper into the future.”
The company initiated the certification process in 2000 with a review of its forest management practices compared to FSC principles and criteria. The company engaged SmartWood, a program of the Rainforest Alliance, to develop a detailed audit that their assessment team conducted in late 2004. The audit included a verification of Alberta-Pacific’s forest management operations, interviews with more than 100 stakeholder, Aboriginal and community representatives and reviews of written responses to surveys sent to 200 residents in the area.
“This certificate is significant because of both its size and location,” said SmartWood director and Rainforest Alliance chief of forestry, Richard Donovan. “Alberta-Pacific has joined the FSC community’s journey towards sustainability. Perhaps most importantly to those interested in, or affected by, the company’s operations, this journey will include future annual FSC audits by SmartWood and continued interaction with interested parties on the key issues embodied within FSC’s principles and criteria.”