By Kristina Urquhart
The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has released a statement denouncing a recent publication on wood sourcing in Canada by the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), a U.S.-based ENGO.
The report erroneously characterizes Canada’s sustainable forest management system, the association says.
The publication – which argues that several Canadian pulp and paper mills source fibre without Indigenous or community input and tries to position non–FSC certified forest units as less sustainable – “relies on publicly available information,” say the NRDC authors.
Not good enough, says FPAC. Canadian forestry producers have long consulted community members about how forests are managed. “No harvesting plans in Canada are approved by provincial governments until local science has been applied and robust community input has been secured,” says FPAC. “It’s the due diligence and obligation that comes with managing this shared public resource.”
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) echoes this in its recent State of Canada’s Forests 2020 report. “Forest management plans describe planned forest activities for specific time periods and areas. For each region, they are prepared by governments, forest companies and other forestry stakeholders, in accordance with the laws, rules and policies of that place,” the report says.
“The process of creating management plans takes into account the interests and concerns of First Nations and of organizations and individuals affected by forest management on public lands. Consultations are part of the planning process.”
FPAC points out that the NRDC is backing legislation in New York and California to try to block those states from sourcing wood fibre from Canada, Finland and Sweden, which are all considered world leaders in sustainable forest management.
Canada, for example, has seen less than 0.5 per cent of its forests permanently deforested since 1990, according to NRCan. Canada also plants more than 400 million seedlings every year to generate new forest growth.
It’s also worth noting that several third-party forestry certifications exist in Canada and globally. When it comes to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – the certification system specifically highlighted by the NRDC report – Canada has 50 million hectares (124 million acres) of forests certified by FSC out of a possible 270 million hectares (667 million acres) – or just under 19 per cent of its total forests.
The U.S., on the other hand, has 14.2 million hectares (35.2 million acres) of forests certified by FSC out of a possible 300 million hectares (741 million acres) – or just under five per cent of its total forests.
“As we continue to push through this pandemic, FPAC would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of forestry workers across Canada. They continue to do essential work and have kept our part of the economy moving,” says Derek Nighbor, president and CEO of FPAC, in the statement.
“We also salute our federal and provincial governments and our labour, construction, retail, manufacturing, transportation, and community partners across the country for their incredible support during this time. While NRDC continues to use dishonest propaganda to discredit our sector, we will stick to the facts and will stand up for Canadian forestry workers and their families.”
To read more about Canada’s sustainable forest management practices, view Natural Resources Canada’s State of Canada’s Forests 2020 report.