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Resolute offers details on suspension of two FSC certificates


December 24, 2014
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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Resolute Forest Products has outlined some of the circumstances surrounding the suspension of two of the company’s Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certificates in the Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, and notes that it…

Resolute Forest Products has outlined some of the circumstances surrounding the suspension of two of the company’s Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) certificates in the Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, and notes that it “will be impossible for the Company to obtain reinstatement of the two Lac-Saint-Jean certificates within the allowed time and without significant socio-economic impact.” One of the certificates expired on December 3 and the second, which is currently suspended, will be revoked on January 1, 2015.

Resolute claims that the interpretation of the requirements of the FSC’s Boreal Standard is what sealed the fate of the two certificates, and led to non-conformities associated principally with two issues: a territorial dispute and a caribou habitat conservation plan.

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“The certificate suspensions in Lac-Saint-Jean have nothing to do with Resolute’s adoption of leading forest management practices or its compliance with laws and regulations. These are in fact the same sustainable forest management principles and practices that are applied by other current holders of FSC certificates in Eastern Canada,” said Richard Garneau, president and CEO.

The company says a complex territorial dispute between the Cree First Nation and the government of Quebec contributed to the FSC auditors’ decision to suspend one of the two FSC certificates.

According to Resolute, the existing caribou habitat conservation plan for the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, prepared and implemented by the government of Quebec, was found by the FSC’s auditors to be unacceptable. However, other holders of FSC certificates for neighboring territories in the Lac-Saint-Jean region have had their certificates renewed, the company says, despite having basically submitted the same caribou habitat conservation plan that was considered unacceptable when Resolute’s FSC certificates were audited.

The Government of Quebec stated in the Le Quotidien newspaper Dec. 19 that it will be unable to quickly resolve its dispute with the Cree First Nation or the issue with caribou habitat conservation planning. Earlier this fall, in the October 3 edition of the newspaper, the Quebec Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Laurent Lessard, said that the suspension of the two certificates for two of Resolute’s logging territories revolved around issues that are the government’s concern.

Resolute continues to be one of the largest holders of FSC sustainable forest management certificates in Canada and recently successfully renewed its FSC certificates in the Mauricie (jointly with Adélard Goyette & Fils, Bois Nobles Ka’N’Enda, Boiseries Savco, Domtar, Emballages Smurfit-Stone Canada, Gérard Crête et Fils, Industries John Lewis, Kruger Wayagamack, Papiers de publications Kruger, Poteaux Sélect, Produits forestiers Arbec, Produits forestiers Mauricie, RBF Scierie St-Tite and Services forestiers Atikamekw Aski), Abitibi (jointly with Tembec) and North Shore regions.

The suspension of several of Resolute Forest Products’ FSC certificates is the subject of a legal battle between the company and the third-party auditor of the certificates, and has prompted the Forest Stewardship Council to change its policies to prevent a similar situation from arising.

As well, electronics retailer Best Buy recently announced it would shift its business away from Resolute and require its suppliers to provide Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. “Our intention is to conduct business with companies that support sustainable forestry practices including those in the Canadian Boreal Forest. Clear preference will be awarded to companies that have earned FSC certification,” says a Best Buy news release.