Forest industry and conservation group signatories to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) made recommendations in late June for an area of Ontario’s boreal forest almost five times the size of Metro Toronto. The plan applies to approximately 3 million hectares of the Abitibi River Forest.
The area in question is managed as a co-operative Sustainable Forest Licence. It extends north and east of Kapuskasing and Timmins, to the Quebec border. The two largest shareholders in the co-operative are Tembec Inc. and Resolute Forest Products,
The proposed approach and recommendations are intended to produce more than 800,000 hectares of critical habitat for Boreal woodland caribou that would be excluded from harvest. The remaining 2.2 million hectares would remain open to forestry, with high standards of sustainable forest practices in place to safeguard wildlife and ecosystems.
“The CBFA's cooperative, multi-stakeholder approach has produced an action plan which strengthens Canada's position as a progressive forestry leader by preserving jobs and strengthening communities, while protecting forest ecosystems and natural habitat. It is yet another example of our industry's commitment to true sustainable development," said James Lopez, president and CEO of Tembec, speaking on behalf of Canadian forestry companies.
Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle said the Ontario government supports the collaborative efforts of the CBFA and will review the details of the recommendations.
The anticipated outcomes of these recommendations are:
- Greater conservation of forested areas that are critical caribou habitat, and increased harvesting emphasis placed on areas where caribou have not been present for some time;
- An increase to over 835,000 hectares of boreal woodland caribou habitat excluded from timber harvesting;
- Approximately 2.2 million hectares that remain open to timber harvest with increased yields of spruce saw logs and pulp, but with greater conservation measures for caribou habitat; and
- An estimated 20% increase in spruce wood supply for the next 30 years from the current direction for the area.
“We are very pleased with this tangible success achieved in Northeast Ontario. It serves as a good example of the importance of having various stakeholders working together in a truly collaborative spirit. Such an approach yields a result supporting the three pillars of sustainability -- environmental, social and economic," stated Richard Garneau, president and CEO of Resolute Forest Products.
The CBFA has proposed a zonation approach to forestry that includes a no-harvesting zone covering an area of 835,000 ha that complements and includes existing protected areas in the northern reaches of the Abitibi River Forest; a Caribou Recovery Zone composed of deferrals and harvest areas (985,000 ha); and, a Strategic Caribou Recovery Zone where normally approved forestry with supplemental caribou recovery objectives will be undertaken (1,200,000 ha).
The plan increases wood supply for industry relative to the current direction by approximately 20% over the next 30 years. This provides a degree of business certainty for both forest operators and local communities.