Businesses for Boreal conservation

riviere_broadbackBy Melissa Filion
Buyers of Canada’s forest products count on both a reliable flow of goods and increasing levels of sustainability in the fibre they purchase. They support scientifically valid levels of protection that also ensures a steady supply of forest fibre into the future.
Those messages were made crystal clear at a Roundtable gathering in old Montreal last year. Forest product customers, investors, First Nations and scientists came together to discuss the future of Quebec’s Broadback Forest and the need for large-scale conservation in the Boreal Forest that stretches across this country.
The Roundtable was organized by Canopy, with opening remarks by M. Francois Olivier, CEO and President of TC Transcontinental. As one of Canada’s largest forest product buyers, TC Transcontinental has been at the forefront of advocating for a constructive, win-win solution for Quebec’s Broadback Forest – a unique gem of the Boreal landscape.
Forest product customers, such as those attending the Canopy Roundtable including Hearst, Sprint, The Globe and Mail, Quebecor, Time Inc. and many more, are increasingly playing a key role in supporting solutions for the future of our forests. Their active engagement has been critical to the success of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest negotiations. They have moved the bar on advancing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification as the most credible system to offer assurances of sustainability. Customers are engaging with governments around the world, including in Canada, the Amazon and Indonesia, encouraging the implementation of lasting conservation solutions.

Quebec’s Broadback Forest is now set to be the next success story

The Grand Council of the Crees and communities within the region share a vision for their lands, including the Broadback watershed. These First Nations aspire to the creation of a network of protected areas totalling 13,000 km2  – an area that will ensure the continuation of their culture and a bright future for their youth. Their impassioned and united call to preserve a way of life, to sustain fishing, hunting, trapping, the gathering of wild plants and being at one with the natural world strikes a chord with any listener.
Scientific experts are also recommending approval of the Broadback protected area proposals to ensure the health of forest ecosystems and a future for threatened caribou herds. Peer-reviewed research in both Quebec and throughout the Canadian Boreal Forest has demonstrated that endangered woodland caribou avoid human disturbance and are most often associated with forests that have not been fragmented or logged.
Even local forest product companies are backing substantial protection in the Broadback Forest, provided decisions are based on the best available science and any economic impacts are shared equitably amongst industry stakeholders.
There is no doubt that it takes time for a government to legislate large scale conservation solutions. Quebec Minister of Environment David Heurtel, and Minister of Forests, Fauna and Parks Laurent Lessard, have a truly unprecedented opportunity before them. Major interests are aligned and are ready to support a public announcement.

Now is time to act!

Doing the right thing for the environment is a good business decision. It has positive impacts on market value, on brand capital and it helps companies attract and retain employees who place a high premium on socially and environmentally responsible corporate behaviour.
Similarly, doing the right thing for the forest is a good political decision. Jurisdictions such as Quebec can differentiate themselves by leading the way, stimulating their economy by increasing fibre supply predictability and helping forest product manufacturers respond to the increasing market demand for sustainable products. And, of course, governments can be rewarded with public accolades when they bring about meaningful, robust and innovative solutions.
Canopy offers our full support to efforts that will make the Broadback Forest a legacy for generations to come.