Sustainable forest management in Canada’s working forests is built upon a few key principles including ecosystems-based management and conservation, local input, and collaboration, keeping forest as forest forever, and providing family-supporting jobs and sustainable products to Canadians and people around the world.
Over the past few years, the US-based Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) has been one of the few groups that regularly engages in deliberate and dishonest campaigns to discredit Canadian forestry. It does so while showing no interest in understanding how Canadian forestry works, how local communities and residents engage in forest management planning, and how committed people in Canadian forestry are to sustainability, reconciliation, a net-zero carbon economy, and building healthy and resilient forests and forestry communities.
Instead of choosing productive dialogue, NRDC prefers to attack from the confines of its Washington, DC offices, issuing blogs and documents from its ‘campaign manager’ and ‘campaign coordinator’ that quote themselves and a handful of known anti-forestry voices, are absent of peer review, and include recycled misinformation to advance their fundraising agenda.
We are not perfect, but we are among the best in the world at how we do forest management in Canada. Planning on an expansive, publicly owned, and dynamic land base – one that is greatly impacted by a changing climate – is complex work.
There are many important values for which to manage and many local perspectives to consider in every single forest management plan. Canadian forestry is about planning for the long-game and we are one of the only sectors in the country that initiates its planning process by considering 100 to 200 year landscape models.
In the face of a changing climate and the move to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, forest management and forest products will be key solutions for us in Canada – and people around the world will be counting on us too. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recognized Canadian forestry and its critical role in fighting climate change, as has our federal government in its fall Speech from the Throne.
We are a fair-minded and collaborative bunch in Canadian forestry. We are open to criticism and we are always looking for ways to be even better. That said, when we see efforts to deliberately mislead, attempts to threaten our customers with misinformation, and campaign activity aimed at putting Canadians out of work – we draw the line. While we have long questioned the motivation of this organization, it has become sadly clear in recent weeks that targeting Canadian jobs is at the top of its list.
NRDC has recently sponsored legislation in the California and New York state legislatures to get those states to stop sourcing from the boreal forests of Canada, Sweden, and Finland – three of the world’s leaders in sustainable forest management, human and labour rights, and in providing good-paying, family-supporting jobs in forestry.
Having a US-based group spread misinformation so it can raise money at the expense of Canadian workers and their families is one thing – to do it during the third wave of a global pandemic just shows where their priorities are and how low they are prepared to go.
Quote from FPAC President and CEO Derek Nighbor:
“As we continue to push through this pandemic, FPAC would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of forestry workers across Canada. They continue to do essential work and have kept our part of the economy moving. We also salute our federal and provincial governments and our labour, construction, retail, manufacturing, transportation, and community partners across the country for their incredible support during this time. While NRDC continues to use dishonest propaganda to discredit our sector, we will stick to the facts and will stand up for Canadian forestry workers and their families.”
Quote from Unifor National President Jerry Dias:
“When US-based activists are prepared to say anything to put Canadian self-sufficiency and jobs at risk, Canada’s labour, industry, and government leaders have an obligation to speak out. Canada’s forest sector workers are leading the way in advancing a green, post-pandemic recovery. The world needs more Canadian forestry. I am proud of the incredible work our members are doing across the country and stand with them in the face of misinformation campaigns targeting Canadian exports and jobs.”
Quote from United Steelworkers Union Wood Council Chair Jeff Bromley:
“Customers in Canada and around the world have long counted on Canadian forest workers to deliver sustainably-sourced, environmentally-friendly, and high quality products. We take pride in our work and in our move to a lower carbon economy, sustainable Canadian forestry and forest products are more important than ever. As our workers face new potential trade actions targeting our sector by the state legislatures in California and New York, it is important that we all push back against this unwarranted protectionism.”
Key Principles of Sustainable Forest Management in Canada
- Ecosystems-based management and conservation. An approach that considers land management based on multiple important forest and community values – from protecting watersheds, wetlands, and carbon-rich peatlands to supporting biodiversity to keeping families living in forested communities safer from fire risks.
- Local input and collaboration. Ensuring that members of the local community have input into how forests will be managed in their area. No harvesting plans in Canada are approved by provincial governments until local science has been applied and robust community input has been secured. It’s the due diligence and obligation that comes with managing this shared public resource.
- Keeping forest as forest forever. Canada is blessed with a rich resource in our forests and our long-standing commitment to sustainability has helped ensure that we have 9,000 trees for every Canadian, we have retained 90% of our original forest cover, and we plant more than 400 million seedlings every year to renew our forests and keep them as forests for generations.
- Jobs and sustainable products for Canada and the world. Forestry employs 230,000 Canadians across 600 communities. Over 12,000 Indigenous peoples work in our sector and additionally, 1,400 Indigenous-owned forestry businesses help us get the work done. The jobs we sustain and create put food on the table, pay the bills, and help put kids through school. The products we make are critical in our move to a lower-carbon economy and allow us as Canadians to be able to provide for ourselves – from lumber to toilet paper and tissue; from wood-based biofuels and bioplastics to biodegradable Personal Protective Equipment.
FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. As an industry with annual revenues exceeding $80B, Canada’s forest products sector is one of the country’s largest employers operating in over 600 communities, providing 230,000 direct jobs, and over 600,000 indirect jobs across the country.