Madison’s sincerely hopes this sudden development between Resolute Forest Products in Quebec and the Forest Stewardship Council’s certification policy is not due to the expiration of the 2006 Canada-US Softwood Lumber Agreement. That this new disagreement is being driven by the demands of 13 US-funded environmental groups is cause for alarm to anyone working in or of the forests in Canada.
BY: KETA KOSMAN
Canada Forest Certification Complications
Tembec Curtails Senneterre
In related news, Tembec Inc, out of Montreal, QC, cited weakness in the North American softwood lumber market and high wood costs in an announcement Monday that the company is indefinitely suspending operations at its sawmill in Senneterre, QC, putting 148 employees out of work.
The company, which last week reported strong results in 1Q but an adjusted EBITDA loss in the lumber segment, said the suspension will begin next Monday.
The sawmill in the Temiscaming region in northwestern Québec has an annual production capacity of 100 million board feet.
Resolute FP Certification
Still in Québec, Resolute Forest Products learned Monday from a Forest Stewardship Council Canada press release that FSC has requested that the Rainforest Alliance certification body extend the temporary suspension of one of Resolute’s two certificates in Québec’s Lac-Saint-Jean region for six months, until July 2, 2015.
The extension of the temporary suspension is intended to give the Québec government time to settle its dispute with the Cree First Nation, which dates back to 2002, and to resolve issues with its caribou conservation plan, the two issues that led to the temporary suspension.
A long brewing dispute over the largest undisturbed boreal forest on Earth, nearly 2-million square miles of pines and firs stretched across northern Canada, began to heat up this week when 13 American environmental advocacy groups wrote the governments of Ontario and Québec urging them to support new conservation efforts.
The letter comes in response to earlier lobbying by the Québec Forest Industry Council, which represents nearly half of Canada’s $20-billion timber industry, warning the government against new measures proposed by a watchdog, the Forest Stewardship Council. The new measures would threaten thousands of jobs and the communities that rely on them, the industry group warned in an October letter to Quebec’s minister of forests.
According the the Globe and Mail January 28, FSC — which audits the ecofriendliness of forestry companies — signalled that there is flexibility in the way the controversial motion behind those new standards will be implemented.
François Dufresne, president of the Canadian chapter of FSC, made his remarks the day after he and the council’s international director-general, Kim Carstensen, met with Quebec Forestry Minister Laurent Lessard and some industry representatives, including Richard Garneau, chief executive of Montreal-based Resolute Forest Products.
Government of Québec Appoints Mediator
The government of Quebec’s announced January 26 that it has appointed former premier Mr. Lucien Bouchard, attorney, to act in the capacity of mediator in regard to the issues associated with the Baril-Moses letter signed in 2002 and particularly those issues stemming from the suspension of forest certification granted to certain harvesting areas used by Resolute Forest Products.
To a large extent, the current debate over maintaining certification lies outside of the control of companies. This is particularly true in regard to such elements of non-compliance as Aboriginal issues, the conservation of old-growth forests, and the protection of the woodland caribou population – matters falling under the competence of the Government of Quebec.
The FSC is setting new standards after members adopted a motion in 2014. Motion 65 has caused some trepidation in the forestry industry because it seeks to protect “the vast majorities” of remaining undisturbed forest. It also requires that harvesting be done with “free prior and informed consent of indigenous people.”
One sticking point: The motion stipulates that, should no standards be in place by the end of 2016, 80 per cent of a company’s managed forestry zone could be automatically designated as fully protected landscape.
Possible Resolute Expulsion
In an explosive development Thursday, FSC said its international board will decide in March whether to recommend that its 800 members vote to remove the Québec-based company, the second-largest holder of FSC certifications in North America.
Director-general Kim Carstensen said it was considering the move after verbal attacks by Resolute, which has rejected an FSC proposal for mediation to find peace among producers, First Nations and environment groups.
Resolute chief executive Richard Garneau told the Globe and Mail it was disturbing that FSC would consider removing his company’s membership because it has objected to whether the organization should involve itself in a forest system that is ultimately controlled by provincial governments.
The government of Québec has said it won’t participate in FSC’s mediation process.
NEXT WEEK: INTERNATIONAL FORESTRY TRADE AGREEMENT DEVELOPMENTS