October 9, 2006

Forest industry commits to "conservation first" principle in new accord with nature group

A joint statement on boreal forest conservation issued by the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and the Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI), focuses on the need for conservation planning and says resource development decisions should take into account both scientific research and traditional knowledge, and should respect Aboriginal rights. The statement, the first of its kind, represents a commitment by both organizations to ensure planning for conservation of ecological and cultural values prior to new forest tenures in unallocated part of Canada's boreal forest. It recognizes that the urgent challenges facing the boreal forest also offer opportunities for ensuring the ecological, economic and cultural sustainability of this resource.

"This agreement is particularly important for the future of the boreal as it highlights the shared belief that planning for conservation should occur before new forest tenures are allocated in Canada's boreal region," said Larry Innes, the CBI's interim director. "This agreement, which also recognizes that Aboriginal people must be consulted on decisions affecting their constitutional rights, is another step in a broader effort on the part of both our organizations to expand dialogue and work collaboratively to support the long-term sustainability of the boreal forest and the communities that depend on it."

"FPAC and its members have a strong and productive track record of working constructively with conservation groups, governments and others on projects related to advancing sustainable forest management and environmental stewardship, and we are committed to help shape a sustainable vision and reality for the boreal forest," said FPAC president and CEO Avrim Lazar, adding, "FPAC and CBI share a strong belief in the need for conservation planning to guide development and in continual improvement in areas where we operate. Working in this fashion will help ensure the maintenance of our shared values."

Commenting on the agreement, Monte Hummel, president emeritus of the World Wildlife Fund Canada, called it "a first for Canada," and commended FPAC for "committing its members to the "conservation first" principle, i.e. to conservation planning in advance of new industrial development."

The opportunity to shape a truly sustainable vision and reality for the boreal forest is a time-limited one, says the joint CBI/FPAC statement, Decisions about land use and resource allocation made in the next five years will, in large part, determine the path of development and conservation.

Recognizing that the future is being decided now, it continues, CBI and FPAC recognize the responsibility to take action and promote innovation in forest conservation in collaboration with governments and stakeholders.

(Conservation in the context of this document is defined to include both the establishment of protected areas and the adoption of leading sustainable forest management practices.)

Accordingly, FPAC and CBI share the belief that,

1. Planning for conservation of ecological and cultural values should occur prior to new forest tenures in the unallocated parts of Canada's boreal, in a manner that respects the constitutional rights of Aboriginal peoples.

2. There is a need for continual improvement of conservation approaches in areas currently allocated for management.

3. Clear measurement and reporting on progress towards sustainable development should be encouraged through third-party certification with area-specific standards, objectives and guidelines that reflect boreal values.

4. The use of scientific and traditional knowledge is necessary to achieve sound planning outcomes and the conservation of natural and cultural values.

Since its creation in 2003, the CBI has been working to promote constructive discussion among conservation organizations, First Nations, industry and other interested parties about the management of Canada's boreal region. More information is available from Isabelle Des ChĂȘnes at FPAC, 613/563-1441, ext 323, E-mail ideschenes@fpac.ca, Web site www.fpac.ca, or Katherine Lim at the CBI, 613/230-4739, ext 228, Web site www.borealcanada.ca.

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