Tembec certifies first boreal forest in North America to FSC standardsTembec has received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation for its forest resource management practices in the five-million-acre Gordon Cosens Forest of northeastern Ontario. Approximately four times the size of Prince Edward Island, the Gordon Cosens Forest is the largest FSC-certified forest in Canada, one of the largest in the world, and the first boreal (northern) forest to be certified in North America. It is located in the clay belt of northeastern Ontario, a region dominated by extensive publicly-owned black spruce forests. Tembec manages the forest under a Sustainable Forest Licence granted by the Ontario government.
FSC certification is a leading endorsement for environmentally and socially responsible forestry practices. To obtain certification of the Gordon Cosens Forest, Tembec underwent an in-depth audit to prove that practices maintained in that forest meet FSC's high standards for environmental protection and social responsibility. The audits were conducted by the SmartWood program of the Rainforest Alliance, which to date has certified 20 million acres of forests and agricultural crops worldwide. SmartWood evaluated management practices in the forest against more than 150 criteria developed in northern Ontario by environmental, Aboriginal, business and community stakeholders. Many forest users were interviewed or completed surveys as well.
"In January 2001, Tembec and World Wildlife Fund Canada signed an historic accord addressing sustainable forest management. I am extremely pleased to report that we are moving toward the achievement of our common goal," said Tembec's President and CEO, Frank Dottori. "Certifying the Gordon Cosens Forest, a five-million acre public land, is a remarkable accomplishment, but it is just the beginning. By 2005, Tembec intends to obtain certification of all 32 million acres of Canadian forest under its management. In doing so, Tembec is going beyond regulatory requirements and is making a significant contribution toward protected spaces and the advancement of forest management practices," he added.
The FSC certificate now allows Tembec to use the FSC logo on products derived from the Gordon Cosens Forest. A growing number of major retailers such as Home Depot and IKEA give preference to products bearing this endorsement.
"Tembec's certificate is an exemplary win-win situation for both the forest and business," said Monte Hummel, president of World Wildlife Fund Canada. "The Gordon Cosens Forest certification will generate a range of FSC-certified wood and paper products allowing consumers to make an environmentally-friendly choice. Tembec is making good on a ground-breaking commitment to change the way forestry is practiced in Canada today. Its 32-million acre pledge will bring WWF closer to its goal of 75 million FSC-certified acres by 2005," he added.
Several facilities, including Columbia Forest Products' plywood mill in Hearst, Tembec's softwood lumber sawmills in Kapuskasing, Opasatika and Hearst, and Tembec's newsprint mill in Kapuskasing use wood fibre from the Gordon Cosens Forest. The company committed to the FSC system because it is supported by Aboriginal people, environmental groups, labour unions and business. Tembec's list of FSC-certified products already include hardwood flooring and paperboard, but with the FSC certification of the Gordon Cosens Forest, it will also soon include lumber and newsprint as well.
"This is a watershed event for Tembec, SmartWood and the Forest Stewardship Council," said Robert Beer, director of SmartWood. "It represents tangible proof that Tembec is committed to responsible forest management, demonstrating its stewardship by undergoing an FSC assessment process that is transparent and public, subject to review by all interested stakeholders. We know this certification will attract attention because Tembec is a leader in changing the way large industrial companies manage their forest resources."
More information is available from Charles Gagnon, vice-president of corporate relations for Tembec, 819/627-4387.