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CPAWS and Tembec collaborate on caribou plans


May 25, 2016
By Cindy Macdonald

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and Tembec showcased their joint innovative solutions aimed at achieving woodland caribou habitat conservation and a healthy forest industry in Ontario and Quebec at a special event in Thunder Bay in mid-May.

At the same time, Thunder Bay was hosting the 16th North American Caribou Workshop (NACW), a conference addressing caribou biology, research and management. Both CPAWS and Tembec participated in the conference.

CPAWS and Tembec have been collaborating for almost ten years. The two organizations say their work in Ontario and Quebec is an example of “what is possible when people set aside their positions and bring pragmatic problem-solving approach to resource challenges.” They have come up with voluntary recommendations to assist the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in meeting requirements for range plans under the federal recovery strategy for boreal caribou. Range plans are due by October 2017.

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“There is a culture of leadership at Tembec that invites collaboration,” said Janet Sumner, executive director for CPAWS Wildlands League, the Ontario chapter of CPAWS. “This kind of leadership is unparalleled in Canada when it comes to forest management and caribou.”

In Ontario, the two groups have come up with innovative solutions for the three-million hectare Abitibi River Forest near Cochrane. They used best available science and wood supply information. CPAWS and Tembec worked directly with affected municipalities and local First Nations, and with organizations linked to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, to come up with a three-zoned approach that is better for caribou and mills and is respectful of communities.

“We have a great relationship with CPAWS and maintaining excellent lines of communications is one of the reasons for our success,” said Chris Black, executive vice-president, forest products, pulp and paper for Tembec.

“It is true we each have our own perspective and interests, but when we work together and listen to each other, that is when bright ideas are developed,” added Black.

In Northwestern Quebec, Tembec and SNAP Québec – the Quebec chapter of CPAWS – are collaborating on a caribou plan for 675,000 hectares of the Northern La Sarre Forest area. The collaboration was initiated through the Forest Stewardship Council certification and brought together Tembec, SNAP Québec, Abitibiwinni First Nation and the Québec government. This woodland caribou habitat management plan will help achieve caribou conservation with a strategy to preserve suitable habitat for this threatened species, while maintaining proper forest operations level and limit impact on forest industry supply objectives.

“This win-win approach regarding woodland caribou and Tembec’s persistent efforts to meet FSC requirements is a demonstration of environmental leadership,” said Alain Branchaud, executive director for SNAP Québec. “The collaboration is ongoing as we constantly seek to align the caribou plan with the most recent scientific guidelines.”