The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) Secretariat today released the following open letter calling on the leaders of the four major political parties currently contesting the provincial election to publicly commit now to implementing the CBFA’s plan to safeguard boreal woodland caribou habitat and maintain hundreds of forestry-related jobs in three million hectares in Northeastern Ontario.
OPEN LETTER TO:
Ontario Conservative Party Leader Tim Hudak, Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath, Ontario Liberal Party Leader Kathleen Wynne, and Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner to Implement the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement Plan to Safeguard Caribou and Preserve Jobs in Northeast Ontario
The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) Secretariat is calling on the leaders of the four major political parties currently contesting the provincial election to publicly commit now to implementing the CBFA’s plan to safeguard boreal woodland caribou habitat and maintain hundreds of forestry-related jobs in three million hectares in Northeastern Ontario.
In June 2012, the Ontario government committed to review recommendations put forward by the CBFA and its partners for a forest management plan in the Abitibi River Forest, which lies within the Kesagami caribou range, near Cochrane.
Since then, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources conducted a review of the CBFA plan that concluded in April 2014 with an endorsement and a recommendation for the government to implement it.
The current election has put implementation on hold, but we believe the urgent economic and environmental benefits of implementing this plan transcend partisan politics.
The Abitibi River Forest is managed as a co-operative Sustainable Forest License. The two largest shareholders in the co-operative are Tembec Inc. and Resolute Forest Products, both signatories to the CBFA. Resolute operates a mill in Iroquois Falls and Tembec has a mill in Cochrane. This wood supply is the economic lifeblood of these and surrounding communities.
The Kesagami caribou range is also a traditional home to woodland boreal caribou, which are important indicators of the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. This range has been disturbed by human activity, which has resulted in population decline. This population is vital because it connects the related eastern and western herds in Canada.
Under the CBFA’s proposed Kesagami Caribou Range Plan, the province would implement interim measures to suspend forestry-related road building for five years in 539,000 hectares in the Kesagami caribou range of the Abitibi River Forest to allow the completion of a new forest management plan.
When fully implemented, the new plan will see more than 835,000 hectares of critical habitat for boreal woodland caribou safeguarded from harvest, a commitment the CBFA signatories are already largely voluntarily honouring. The remaining 2.2 million hectares will stay open to forestry, with Tembec Inc. and Resolute Forest Products agreeing to adhere to high standards of sustainable forest practices to safeguard wildlife and ecosystems.
The environmental and economic benefits of the plan cannot be understated, nor can the significance of the process and model employed to achieve it.
The Kesagami Caribou Range Plan demonstrates the overall approach embodied in the CBFA – a four-year-old collaborative, voluntary agreement between seven environmental organizations, the Forest Products Association of Canada, its 18 member companies, and Kruger Inc. – can be successfully adapted into a plan that improves wood supply and safeguards woodland caribou.
Of particular note, this plan was negotiated not just between CBFA signatories, but among them and in collaboration with northern municipalities – Timmins, Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, Iroquois Falls, Black River Matheson, Hearst and Kapuskasing, and a local First Nation – the Taykwa Tagamou Nation.
This is a model that works for forestry and can work in other sectors, too.
Through solid, honest dialogue, common ground was built to forge a collaborative plan that is an improvement on wood supply and provides a caribou conservation area almost nine times larger than the City of Toronto that is off limits to forestry-related road building.
It is imperative that this unprecedented first step – for Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement a voluntary agreement for a forest management area that has been reached by signatories of the CBFA in collaboration with affected municipalities and a First Nation – not be lost.
To that end, we call on the leaders of all four major Ontario political parties to show leadership, by joining with forestry companies, conservation groups, First Nations and municipalities to implement a plan that preserves jobs and strengthens communities in Northeastern Ontario, while protecting forest ecosystems and natural habitat – a plan that is in the interest of all Ontarians, now and for future generations.
For More Information Contact:
Dawson Ferguson Communications Inc.
The following are signatories to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement:
Environmental Organizations (ENGOs):
Canadian Boreal Initiative, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), David Suzuki Foundation, ForestEthics, The Nature Conservancy, The Pew Charitable Trusts International Boreal Conservation Campaign and the Ivey Foundation.
Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc., AV Group, Canfor Corporation, Canfor Pulp Limited Partnership, Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company, Conifex Timber Inc., Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., Fortress Paper Ltd., Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Ltd., LP Canada Ltd., Mercer International, Millar Western Forest Products Ltd., Resolute Forest Products, Tembec Inc., Tolko Industries Ltd., West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., and Weyerhaeuser Company Limited — all represented by the Forest Products Association of Canada, which is also a signatory. Kruger Inc. is also a signatory.