February 10, 2016 By Andrew Snook Canadian Forest Industries
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) recently stated it is abandoning its mediation efforts with Resolute Forest Products, and that Resolute has been unwilling to engage in mediation efforts to resolve issues surrounding suspended FSC certificates. According to a recent article in The Globe and Mail, the FSC is also considering the potential expulsion of Resolute FP from its membership. Resolute is currently the second-largest holder of FSC certifications in North America.
In response, Resolute stated that it has not been ‘unwilling’ and expressed legitimate concerns in good faith that have not been addressed.
“This is wrong,” said Resolute’s Seth Kursman, vice-president of corporate communications, sustainability and government affairs. “On December 18, Resolute stated that ‘we would certainly support an equitable consultative mediation process.’ We also stated that ‘the provincial governments of Quebec and Ontario would be the only appropriate overseers of a mediation process. They are the stewards of public forests.’ Instead of recognizing this fact, why does FSC choose to misconstrue the facts? Could this be evidence of a strategy to try and isolate Resolute in the public eye?”
Kursman continued to state that the mediation process that FSC proposed affects numerous forest products companies, not just Resolute.
“Others have expressed concerns, and a number of certificates have been terminated or suspended,” he said. “In fact, FSC suspensions and terminations in Canada currently total 13.8 million hectares. And yet the focus of FSC — like the focus of Greenpeace — has been entirely on Resolute.”
To make Resolute’s efforts present to the public, the company published a timeline of all of its recent related correspondence with FSC.
“As FSC has failed to respond to these concerns, we have published all of the correspondence that has taken place since that time, so that those interested can learn the truth,” said Kursman.
Resolute’s published timeline
November 25, 2015: Thanks to the significant efforts of our foresters, Resolute received confirmation that our previously suspended FSC certificate in northwestern Ontario had been reinstated. In our press release announcing the reinstatement, we expressed concern that despite the positive development, a number of significant challenges face FSC and its membership in Canada. We noted that we are not alone in these raising these concerns – industry associations in both Quebec and Ontario have made similar observations. Resolute’s release also indicated that “Until significant progress is made in addressing these matters, Resolute will work to maintain its existing FSC forest management certificates where possible, but will not pursue new certification.”
November 27, 2015: Kim Carstensen, director general of FSC International, responded harshly, criticizing Resolute for expressing concerns, although past concerns from Greenpeace have been met with praise. On the same day, Resolute’s president and CEO, Richard Garneau, sent a letter explaining our concerns in greater detail. To this day, these concerns have not been addressed or even acknowledged in a meaningful way.
November 30, 2015: Quebec’s Minister of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks, Laurent Lessard, firmly defended Quebec’s sustainable forest management record and raising the same concerns about FSC during an FSC conference in Bonn, Germany.
December 16, 2015: Three weeks after Resolute explained its concerns in detail, FSC sent a letter to Resolute announcing its intention to launch a mediation process. The letter, sent after the end of the business day, was followed up the next morning with a press release. Greenpeace and WWF both promptly issued press releases urging Resolute to engage in the mediation process. (Resolute responded to WWF’s press release in this blog post.)
December 18, 2015: Resolute responded to the announcement of a mediation process with a letter to Kim Carstensen requesting clarification and reiterating its concerns, which were yet to be addressed. Resolute also indicated that the provincial governments would need to lead such a process, given their jurisdiction over the issues at play. Once again, and to this day, Resolute’s questions have yet to receive a substantive response.
December 22, 2015: Pekuakamiulnuatsh Takuhikan First Nation announced their intention to participate in FSC’s mediation process, provided that their rights are respected throughout the process. Resolute brought this announcement to the attention of Kim Carstensen, along with a second letter reiterating the need for government to lead any mediation process.
December 22, 2015: Quebec’s Minister of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks, Laurent Lessard, sent a letter to Kim Carstensen strongly defending Quebec’s robust forestry practices and confirming what Resolute had previously stated: that Quebec’s provincial government is responsible for the issues FSC proposes addressing in its mediation process.
January 8, 2016: The Quebec Forest Industries Council sent a letter to Kim Carstensen confirming that the entire Quebec forest products industry shares the concerns expressed by Resolute, and suggested that the issues at play be resolved through FSC’s existing consultative process.
January 12, 2016: Kim Carstensen sent a letter to Richard Garneau, once again ignoring each one of the questions and concerns raised in Resolute’s previous letters, instead requesting a face-to-face meeting on January 27, 2016. Mr. Garneau replied via email reiterating the concerns, and agreeing to a meeting on January 27.
January 27, 2016: Richard Garneau joined Minister Lessard, Deputy Minister Richard Savard, QFIC President André Tremblay, and other industry representatives for a meeting with Kim Carstensen in Quebec City. The Minister, Deputy Minister and industry representatives unanimously expressed the same concerns, but again, no meaningful response was given.
February 4, 2016: FSC issued a press release announcing that it will abandon its proposed mediation process and instead engage in a “national discussion” with other FSC members. Resolute’s response to this press release can be found here.
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