On behalf of Canada’s forestry sector and its workers, I wanted to take the opportunity to respond to the op-ed in The Chronicle-Journal Nov. 27 - Boreal Caribou: Scientists refute forestry claims.
Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and our members have been involved in caribou research, adaptive management practices for caribou, as well as working collaboratively with First Nations, local communities and partners for many years, and for some companies, multiple decades.
Canada’s forests are changing. This year alone, residents of the interior of British Columbia lost over 1.1 million hectares of forest due to wildfires - representing more than the entire landscape of trees harvested across all of Canada in one year. We have seen the mountain pine beetle in the West, and the spruce budworm in the east, ravage our forest landscape.
Actively managing our forests is complex work that includes fire suppression and pest management. This work also supports many values, including, watershed protection, wetland stewardship, and species at risk. In the boreal forest alone, our workers manage not just for caribou, but for hundreds of mammals, birds, and fish that call the forest home.
Whether related to caribou, or any other species in Canada’s forests, we must ensure that local land management decisions are informed with the best available local knowledge and science. For our part, forest companies consult broadly on proposed forest management plans with local interest groups in addition to meeting all of the necessary regulatory requirements for a sustainable forest management plan.
Building sustainable forest management plans includes modeling for a sustainable supply of timber on the landscape for up to a 150-year planning horizon. In doing this, companies maintain biodiversity, provide habitat for multiple species (including caribou), emulate natural disturbance patterns and regenerate and renew forests to meet provincial requirements, incorporate local knowledge, values and interests, and contribute to the economies of the over 600 Canadian communities that depend on the forest sector.
The misrepresentation of the purpose and content of our informational website at www.cariboufacts.ca is unfortunate. To be clear, on behalf of Canada’s forest sector and our 230,000 direct employees, we are asking for three simple things:
1. Any land use decision must be based on the most recent and comprehensive science that looks at all factors, including incorporating unique local forest realities and the impacts of action on other species in the forest.
2. All impacted groups should be meaningfully engaged in the discussion, including governments, Indigenous communities, scientists, industry, tourism and recreation groups, and labour organizations.
3. Socio-economic analysis should be conducted to understand what, if any, impacts might be felt by local communities.
To achieve positive outcomes for at-risk species and communities we need to look at integrating the needs for multiple species and community values. This important work is already underway in many jurisdictions, and includes exploring the various possible scenarios (including the habitat needs of multiple species, costs of implementation, effectiveness, feasibility etc.) and looking at which scenario can achieve the best results. Continued monitoring, further research, and an adaptive management approach will be included in future forest management plans. That’s something we’re committed to.
FPAC, Canada’s forest sector and our workers look forward to working collaboratively with partners in Indigenous communities, the scientific community and local governments and other groups to support and implement caribou plans that will work for the long term and will support all species and values in Canada’s forests.
Vice-president, Sustainability and Environmental Partnerships
Forest Products Association of Canada