February 2, 2004

Forest industry pledges $1M for boreal ecosystem research, conservation projects

The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) is committing $1 million in total project funding over five years, along with in-kind resources, to further boreal ecosystem conservation. The industry association last week announced the first of several projects, developed in partnership with the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI) under a Memorandum of Understanding between the two groups.

The projects involve research and conservation activities led by World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF Canada) and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC). Additional projects to be announced later will be chosen to promote strong boreal conservation practices and greater understanding of this complex set of ecosystems.

FPAC's support to WWF will enable standardization of computer-based mapping tools for assessing gaps in Canada's protected areas network and a toolkit to identify forests of high conservation value, for use by all decision-makers in the boreal region. FPAC's work with DUC will support research to develop better ways of conserving watershed areas within the boreal forest region. It is intended to improve management practices around water and wetlands, and aid in other aspects of forest management planning. Together, these projects will seek to advance Canada's understanding of the complex ecosystems of the vast boreal region and help answer critical questions about how best to conserve it.

"The health and sustainability of Canada's forests are critical to our member companies, so we're proud to be part of what we hope will be a long-term, collaborative approach to conservation of the boreal forest," said FPAC president and CEO Avrim Lazar.

Gary Stewart, director of conservation programs for DUC's boreal program, called the announcement "a significant endorsement of the paradigm shift toward conservation that is currently underway in Canada's boreal forest.

"One third of this great forest is covered by wetlands and water sources," Stewart pointed out. "Our concern is that the management practices around these areas lack the science foundation necessary to ensure the sustainability and health of the forest. DUC's working agreement with FPAC represents the beginning of bridging that gap," he added.

FPAC member companies are responsible for the management of about 70% of Canada's working forest. The Ottawa-based Canadian Boreal Initiative works independently with all sectors to promote conservation and sustainable development in Canada's boreal region.

More information is available from Kelly Ouimet at the FPAC, 613/563-1441, ext 313, E-mail kouimet@fpac.ca; or Kelly Acton at the CBI, 613/230-4739, ext 222, E-mail kacton@borealcanada.ca.

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