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Greenpeace exits Canada's Boreal Forest Agreement citing breaches

By Robert Myles     Dec 7, 2012 in Environment
Greenpeace Canada announced its withdrawal yesterday from the Canada Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) claiming logging roads built in Quebec’s Montagnes Blanches region managed by Resolute Forest Products are a violation of the CBFA.
Greenpeace Canada had negotiated and entered into the CFBA in 2010 amidst objections from other environmentalist groups, notably Ecological Internet. In a separate statement today, Ecological Internet claimed the CFBA, endorsed by Greenpeace Canada, had relegated 43 million hectares of Canada’s old growth Boreal forests to industrial logging in exchange for a temporary moratorium and vague promises of future caribou habitat protection elsewhere.
In yesterday’s statement Stephanie Goodwin, Greenpeace Canada forest coordinator said, “The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement was a framework for cooperation whereby companies like Resolute Forest Products agreed to stay out of areas of important habitat. When the biggest logging company in the Boreal Forest goes back on its word to stay out of critical habitat, it signals the Agreement has broken down.”
Greenpeace referred to the CBFA being praised at its inception as promising new protected areas, recovery for threatened caribou herds and improved forest practices in what was one of the most significant conservation agreements in history. Instead, say Greenpeace, the CFBA has failed to provide consensus on safeguarding one single hectare or protection for Canada’s Boreal Forest despite almost continuous discussions over the past 30 months.
One of the routes through ancient forest in the Saguenay Lac St-Jean region in Canada which Greenpea...
One of the routes through ancient forest in the Saguenay Lac St-Jean region in Canada which Greenpeace alleges breaches the CBFA.
Greenpeace Canada
Greenpeace says that in August 2012, in the northern sector of Saguenay Lac St-Jean region, it found kilometres of logging roads approved by the logging company Resolute (formerly AbitibiBowater) in five different areas where such development was prohibited in terms of the CBFA. A detailed map of the areas where Greenpeace alleges breaches of the CBFA took place can be found on the Greenpeace website.
Commented Goodwin, “Greenpeace’s number one priority continues to be a healthy Boreal Forest that supports viable economies and communities. With the Boreal Forest under threat, the only responsible decision for Greenpeace is to pursue other pathways to obtain results in the forest.”
Resolute Forest Products said in a statement released yesterday that it "strongly regrets" the Greenpeace decision. Whilst the statement did not directly address Greenpeace's claims, Richard Garneau, President and CEO of Resolute Forest Products went on to say, "In our view, the Canadian boreal forest has measurably benefited from having people with different perspectives working together. Over the past two years, much important progress has been made in protecting the environmental, social, cultural and economic values that make the boreal so important to the world and the forest products industry."
Ecological Internet welcomed Greenpeace Canada’s change of heart, having campaigned against primary forest logging (cutting down old growth in forests) since 2008. When the CBFA had come into effect Ecological Internet (EI) President, Dr. Glen Barry, labelled the agreement "disgraceful", saying it "traded temporary, vague protections for business as usual industrial forestry across huge expanses of primary and old growth forests... Greenpeace's commitment to 'sustainable' and 'ecosystem based' forest management—for consumer items including toilet paper and lawn furniture from old forests—is an ecological crime, as we know we have already lost more primary forests than necessary to maintain global ecosystems and the biosphere."
Commenting upon Greenpeace pulling out of the CBFA, and the future direction of their Canadian boreal campaign, Dr. Barry said "Having given up on their Canadian boreal forest agreement which greenwashed old-growth logging, maybe now Greenpeace can resign from FSC and join the rest of the global grassroots forest movement working to protect all standing old forests. The science has moved well beyond Greenpeace 1990s-era claims of sustainable old-growth logging, and local advancement as well as global ecology depend upon ending old-growth logging. Local protection and community based eco-forestry are the solutions to global forest sustainability."
Greenpeace said it would continue to work with large corporate customers and identify the logging companies that are taking action and achieving greater forest protection. It pointed to collaboration agreements in place with logging enterprises operating in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, Brazil’s Amazon and Indonesia.
A new report by the Pew Environment Group states that Canada s boreal forest possesses the planet s ...
A new report by the Pew Environment Group states that Canada's boreal forest possesses the planet's largest and most pristine freshwater system.
D. Langhorst/Ducks Unlimited
According to Ecological Internet, the Canadian Boreal Forest is the largest primary forest in North America holding massive amounts of water, threatened wildlife and migratory birds. The Canadian Boreal Forest contains 25% of the world's remaining intact ancient forests and is the largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon on Earth. It is estimated to store in its vegetation, the equivalent of 27 years worth of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Rather than managing old forests, Ecological Internet supports a pure conservation approach on the basis that forests logged industrially for the first time are permanently ecologically damaged in terms of composition, structure, function and dynamics. They see forest sustainability being achieved from a combination of dedicated renewable forests for the purpose of wood and wood fibre production, decreasing demand for forest and paper products and increasing recyclables.
Coincidentally, Mongabay.com reports that a new study published today in the leading academic journal "Science" finds that old trees found in old-growth forests are dying and being lost throughout the world. In the Science article, David Lindenmayer, William Laurance, and Jerry Franklin argue that large trees found in old-growth forests play a crucial part in the ecosystem, providing niche habitats for wildlife, storing large amounts of carbon, and producing abundant fruit, foliage, and flowers. They also record that a spate of studies suggest that big old trees are in decline in many of Earth’s ecosystems: California has lost 95% of its redwoods, Swedish forests have experienced more than a 90% decline in large tree density, and fragmented Brazilian rainforests typically see a 50% die-off of big trees within 30 years of isolation. The implication is that once virgin forest is broken into, an accelerated decline in the survival rate of ancient trees becomes inevitable.
Further reading: In March 2011, Digital Journal carried a detailed article entitled "Study: Call to protect Canada’s boreal, the ‘world’s waterkeeper’"
More about Greenpeace, canadian forest, canada's boreal forest, Boreal forest, Freshwater
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