U.S. environmental groups urge Canada to stick with FSC
By Cindy Macdonald
U.S. environmental groups have called on the governments of Quebec and Ontario to maintain strong forest conservation, wildlife protection and community engagement requirements for the logging industry in the Canadian Boreal forest.
In letters delivered to the premiers of Quebec and Ontario, 13 U.S. environmental groups say that some in the logging industry are attempting to weaken protection for threatened forests and human rights, “at the very time that many are looking to Canadian provinces to strengthen conservation.” The groups call on the logging industry to “work with, not against, the very system that has given them social license in the marketplace.”
“Decades ago environmental groups and the logging industry worked together to found the FSC as an independent, science-based forest certification program,” says Danielle Droitsch, NRDC senior policy analyst, Canada Project. “Fifty million hectares of Canadian forest is FSC-certified, with the majority in the heart of Canada’s Boreal forest. The logging industry must meet higher environmental standards in these forests, but customers recognize and reward the effort.”
The groups make reference to an October 2015 letter to the Quebec government from the Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC), in which they say the organization threatened to remove forests from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification because of limits on industrial logging.
“Companies with billions in buying power use the FSC label to indicate responsible logging practices,” says Ross Hammond, ForestEthics U.S. campaigns director. “The provinces and the logging industry need to recognize the potential economic consequences of abandoning FSC certification.”
“There is no other third-party forest certification system with a strong system of environmental protection, community engagement and conflict resolution,” reads the letters. “We stand ready to work with Canada’s forest products industry to better meet our mutual goals, but we also stand ready to challenge companies that are fragmenting the last intact forest areas in the Boreal forest, that do not adhere to best practices and, most importantly, that fail to respect the free, prior and informed consent of affected First Nations in their traditional territories.”
Groups that signed the letters are: Catalog Choice; Chlorine Free Products Association; Dogwood Alliance; ForestEthics; Friends of the Earth, US; Green America, Better Paper Project; Green Press Initiative; Greenpeace USA; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; Rainforest Action Network; Rainforest Relief; Re-nourish.