ForestEthics, a Canadian environmental group, launched a campaign targeting the office supply industry ten years ago. In 2007, ForestEthics launched a successful campaign to get Victoria’s Secret’s parent company Limited Brands out of Canada’s Boreal Forest, the second largest forest in the world, which was being logged at a rate of two acres a minute. Last week, ForestEthics was one of nine leading environmental groups that announced an alliance, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, with 21 major Canadian pulp and paper companies. The Agreement covers 72 million hectares, including 29 million that will not be logged. The agreement took three years of negotiations to achieve.
“This is our best chance to save woodland caribou, permanently protect vast areas of the Boreal Forest and put in place sustainable forestry practices,” said Richard Brooks, spokesperson for participating environmental organizations and Forest Campaign Coordinator of Greenpeace Canada. “Concerns from the public and the marketplace about wilderness conservation and species loss have been critical drivers in arriving at this agreement. We have a lot of work to do together to make this agreement successful and we are committed to make it happen.”
The signatories of the Agreement are committed to:
- Accelerate the completion of the protected spaces network for the Boreal Forest that represents the diversity of ecosystems within the Boreal region and serves to provide ecological benchmarks.
- Develop and accelerate implementation of plans to protect species at risk in the Boreal Forest, with a priority focus on Boreal caribou.
- Implement world-leading, on-the-ground sustainable forest management practices that best reflect the principles of ecosystem-based management in the Boreal Forest.
- Take action on climate change as it relates to forest conservation and forest product life cycles.
- Take action to improve the prosperity of the Canadian forest sector and the communities that depend on it.
- Work to achieve recognition in the marketplace for the environmental performance of the participating companies.
“Old think was to say it’s either the environment or the economy, that kind of distinction just doesn’t hold anymore,” said Avrim Lazar, president and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada. “We’re all saying both have to happen. Mills have to run, people have to earn a living, and at the same time, we have to have sufficient protection,” he added.
Don Roberts, vice-chairman of renewable energy and clean technology at CIBC World Markets, said the Agreement is a “classic example” of how a crisis can be turned into an opportunity. “There was a crisis and it’s forced us to say ‘well, now how do we rethink things?’” he said. “And I think it was a good time for the environmental groups to do this because once markets come back people get distracted and focus on other things,” he added.