May 3, 2004

Quebec forest industry calls for third-party auditing of practices on public lands

The Quebec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) recently announced a major shift in its forest management policy. "The QFIC recommends requiring all companies charged with planning and carrying out forestry work on public forest lands to have their practices certified by an independent, accredited agency," said QFIC president Georges Courteau.

The new policy position follows up on a proposal the Council made recently for the appointment of an independent chief forester for Quebec. This position, fully independent of both the Quebec government and the forest industry, would be responsible for calculating the annual allowable cut for the province, taking into account all environmental, economic, social and other relevant forest-related factors. The chief forester would be appointed by Quebec's National Assembly and would answer directly to the legislative body.

Both proposals stemmed from the QFIC's consideration of the proceedings of the Commission sur la gestion de la forÍt publique quÈbÈcoise (the Commission on Management of Quebec's Public Forests), chaired by Guy Coulombe. The Commission was appointed by the National Assembly to examine the management of the province's forest resources. The Council's recommendations are aimed at assuring the transparency, transparency, neutrality and credibility of Quebec's forest management system.

"Even at this time, several of our members have obtained certification of their practices or have taken steps to do so, while increasing numbers of companies have realized the importance of having a third independent party conduct audits of their activities," Courteau noted. He said the industry is convinced that this initiative will produce positive impacts not only on the export markets for its products but also vis-¿-vis citizens concerned about the sustainability of the resource.

The QFIC represents most of the softwood lumber, pulp and paper, paperboard and panel businesses active in the province. More information is available from Manon Gagnon at the QFIC, 418/657-7916, ext 411.

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