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West Fraser wins leadership award from SFI for conservation efforts


May 17, 2021
By P&PC Staff

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West Fraser Timber Co. and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) have won a 2021 Leadership Conservation Award from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

The award goes to companies that connect sustainable forest management with Canada’s commitment to protected and conserved areas.

The federal government has set a goal to conserve 25 per cent of its land and 25 per cent of its oceans by 2025, and is working toward 30 per cent for each by 2030.

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SFI, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and West Fraser are collaborating to ensure that conservation outcomes in Canada’s sustainably managed forests are fully recognized and contribute toward Canada’s Target 1 goals for conservation protection.

The Target 1 Challenge is an investment by the federal government in projects that add to Canada’s protected and conserved areas across the country.

“The winners are taking an innovative approach to the pathway to Target 1, by facilitating an objective assessment of managed forestlands,” says Paul Trianosky, chief conservation officer at SFI, in a statement.

“Validating and confirming the role of sustainable forest management, including those forests certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard, will help meet Canada’s conservation goals, and make clear the contributory value of managed forests at a large scale.”

Working on behalf of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Lisa McLaughlin, VP conservation policy and planning, helped to design an approach and tool to aid in identifying Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECMs) that can contribute to Canada’s conservation goals. By acknowledging effective conservation in sustainably managed forestlands, this tool breaks new ground through advancing understanding and recognition of effective measures beyond traditional protected areas like national parks.

Laura Trout, senior habitat and wildlife biologist, has led West Fraser’s involvement in the OECM work and has provided leadership to help broaden engagement within the forest sector. With the aid of NCC’s Decision Support Tool, Trout conducted a high-level evaluation of West Fraser’s operations and recommended four types of potential OECMs. She engaged partners and thought leaders from different sectors and evaluated long-term considerations and opportunities, which will ultimately help others in the forest sector leverage project results.

“We were very pleased to provide some real-world case studies within our tenure areas that demonstrate how conservation values are fully consistent with sustainable forest management. We would like to thank SFI for the recognition of this work,” says Trout.

Members of the OECM coalition include SFI, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Shad Foundation, and the Forest Products Association of Canada. McLaughlin and Trout have helped to navigate discussions among an array of stakeholders. So far, two of the seven OECM sites undergoing further assessment are managed by West Fraser and certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard.

Certifying to SFI ensures that those lands contribute effectively to conservation outcomes at both local and landscape scales. Other SFI-certified organizations are encouraged to join this project.