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Boreal Framework - The Caccia Letter PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Monday, 12 January 2004 01:31
World Wildlife Fund: I received an email of the following letter with the compliments of Charles Caccia, M.P. for Davenport, o­ntario.  As you are aware, Mr. Caccia speaks for the Government of Canada as the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee o­n Environment and Sustainable Development.  I understand that he has the lead o­n this issue and I encourage everyone interested in boreal development and conservation issues to read it carefully.

I received an email with the attached text copy of the following letter with
the compliments of Charles Caccia, M.P. for Davenport, o­ntario.  As you are
aware, Mr. Caccia speaks for the Government of Canada as the Chair of the House
of Commons Standing Committee o­n Environment and Sustainable Development.  I
understand that he has the lead o­n this issue and I encourage everyone
interested in boreal development and conservation issues to read it carefully.
 
Michael Major
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 00:24:31 -0800
From: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Subject: Can - Earth: WWF response to Caccia letter 

FYI Boreal Watchers,
 
Monte Hummel's response to Charles Caccia's letter that was circulated last
week.
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

January 9, 2004

Hon. Charles Caccia
MP for Davenport
House of Commons
Ottawa, o­n
K1A 0A6

Via email

Dear Charles,

You have always been a principled advocate for the Canadian environment, even
when it has not been a popular thing to do with your own peers, and you and I
have worked together o­n many issues in the past.  However, your letter of
December 19, 2003, circulated to members of the board of WWF-Canada, plus
various NGOs, Aboriginal leaders and representatives of the media, reflects a
fundamental misunderstanding of the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework.  I
believe it also reflects a disagreement about how conservation change is likely
to be fashioned in Canada.

First, I?d like to address some matters of fact.  The parties who signed and
launched the Framework are not those cited in your letter.  There are four
NGOs, three forest companies, o­ne energy company, and three First Nations. 
This group was convened by the Canadian Boreal Initiative.

The four NGOs are: Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness
Society, Forest Ethics, and World Wildlife Fund Canada.  Collectively
representing over 200,000 members in Canada, this consortium of groups
represents the full spectrum of strategic approaches to conservation, from
market campaigns to constructive collaboration, and everything in between. 
Together we also represent over a hundred years of hard-won experience in the
trenches, and none of us is in the business of ?limiting? the conservation of
anything.

The three forest companies are Alberta Pacific (Al-Pac), Tembec and Domtar. 
Each o­ne of these companies has publicly committed to pursuing independently-
audited Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of its operations, not
only in their woodlands but also for their mills and company-owned merchants. 
FSC is the highest international standard of forest management in the world,
supported virtually universally by the NGO community, and the o­nly o­ne endorsed
by First Nations in Canada for its Indigenous Peoples Principles and Criteria. 
Forests managed to FSC standards must not o­nly reflect the best environmental
practices o­n the harvested portions of the landscape, but must also include a
representative network of protected areas, plus best working relationships with
affected communities.  Your letter implies that forests managed to this
standard are not ?conserved.?  I strongly disagree.  In fact, we will o­nly
succeed in conserving boreal biodiversity if the managed forest, as well as the
protected forest, makes a contribution to this goal.  Therefore it is time for
conservationists to place as much focus o­n what should happen in the managed
forest, as we have traditionally placed o­n what should not happen in protected
areas.  The companies listed above are prepared to do this, and I believe it
would be foolish not to take them up o­n it.

The o­ne energy company is Suncor, an environmental leader in its field, whose
cooperation is crucial to conservation of the boreal forest particularly in
northeastern Alberta with Al-Pac, where the oil and gas industry has as great
an impact o­n the boreal forest as the forest industry.  Therefore a commitment
to conserve the forest there would be rather meaningless without Suncor at the
table.

The three First Nations are the Deh Cho from the NWT, Poplar River from
Manitoba, and the Innu from Labrador, whose people inhabit the western, central
and eastern portions of the Canadian boreal forest respectively.  Each o­ne of
these First Nations has faced serious development pressures o­n their homelands,
and has taken steps to withdraw large areas from industrial development. 
Equally important, they are ensuring that whatever industrial activities do
take place are conducted in a way that respects the environment and provides
long-term social and economic benefits for their communities.  As outlined in
the attached article by Peter Penashue, these First Nations have been practical
leaders in what you describe as ?retaining and protecting their way of life
which depends o­n the boreal forest,? and I seriously doubt they would sign an
agreement that led to anything less.  You therefore may well owe them an
explanation when you describe the Framework is ?flawed? and ?compromise-driven.?

Altogether, these four national conservation groups, four major companies, and
three large First Nations represent an extraordinary collaboration ? in fact,
unprecedented in Canadian conservation history.  Not surprisingly then, the
consultation needed to bring such interests together has been extensive and
very time consuming, not ?poor? as you suggest.  Further, none of these parties
is na?ve, or uncommitted to the long-term ecological integrity of the boreal
forest.  In fact, for different reasons, none of us could afford to be.

Now, let?s address the substance of the Framework which you say ?would limit to
50% the conservation of the boreal forest,? leaving you ?simply appalled.?

In fact, the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework targets 100% of Canada?s
boreal region for ?conservation,? where conservation is defined as striking a
balance between strict protection and sustainable use that meets the highest
international environmental standards.  You apparently o­nly regard the strictly
protected part of the forest, for example parks, wilderness areas and nature
reserves, as ?conserved.?  The Framework targets at least 50% of the entire
boreal region for such protection, which would amount to some 265 million
hectares with no industrial activity, fully a quarter of the area of Canada. 
To put this into perspective, less than 9% of the boreal region has been
protected from industrial activity so far, and less than 8% of Canada as a
whole.  You will recall that WWF?s entire ten-year Endangered Spaces campaign
in the 1990s delivered over 1,000 new protected areas, totaling 38 million
hectares.  This represented the largest expansion ever of protected area in
Canada, which more than doubled the amount of protected area in our country. 
But the Boreal Framework targets at least 265 million hectares for strict
protection ? seven times what the Endangered Spaces campaign accomplished. 
Does such a goal really deserve to be tossed off as ?appalling??  If so,
certainly no other country in the world has accomplished anything like it.  The
largest commitments to date have been made by the Sakha Republic in northern
Russia to protect 70 million hectares, and the Amazon Region Protected Areas
Agreement which targets 40 million hectares.  But the level of protection for
forests in both of these regions would not be as high as that described for
protected forests in the Boreal Framework, and these other initiatives are
orders of magnitude less in sheer size.  In fact, the Framework constitutes the
most ambitious conservation agreement proposed anywhere o­n Earth, by anyone,
yet you suggest it is o­ne the public should ?deplore and reject.?

As for the ?up to 50%? of the boreal forest that could be available for
industrial activity, the Framework commits industry, communities and
conservation groups to ensuring that such activity meets the highest
international environmental standards, and is conducted in a way that does not
jeopardize the long term ecological integrity of the forest.  This portion,
therefore, should not be regarded as simply written off, or lost as wildlife
habitat, or even wholly allocated to industry, as you suggest.  In fact, those
of us who agreed to the Framework are doing our best to make sure this will not
be the case.  Would you prefer that we all simply gave up o­n managed forests
and accepted that they are going to be effectively trashed?  Have you ever
actually seen a forest managed to FSC standards?  If not, as a forester myself,
I would be pleased to personally show you some of the 4 million hectares in
Canada certified so far.

Your suggestion that the Framework falls short of the Senate report o­n the
boreal forest is also incorrect.  You say the Senate recommended o­nly ?20% for
exploitation purposes,? implying that the other 80% would be protected.  In
fact, the Recommendations in Part Chapter 2 (Ecological Realities) of the
Senate study read as follows:

?In order to accommodate all of the competing demands o­n the boreal forest, the
Subcommittee recommends that serious consideration be given to a natural
landscape-based forest use regime that apportions the boreal forest into three
distinct categories.  o­ne category, comprising up to 20 per cent of the forest
land base, would be managed intensively for timber production.  A second
category, which would comprise the majority of the boreal forest, would be
managed less intensively for a variety of values, but with preservation of
biodiversity as the primary objective.  The third category, comprising up to 20
per cent of the forest land base, would be set aside as protected areas to
preserve ecologically and culturally significant areas.?

While it is certainly true that this formula anticipates managing 80% of the
boreal with a view to maintaining biodiversity, there is clearly a huge ?grey
area? with respect to 60% of the boreal forest. Most importantly, there is no
guarantee that any more than 20% of the region would be strictly protected as
your letter suggests.  In other words, the Senate report would actually allow
for substantially less of the boreal forest to be strictly protected than the
Framework, and substantially more of it to be exploited irresponsibly.

Finally, I?m guessing there is an unstated concern in your letter, lurking
beneath the surface.  I?m referring to the fact that governments were not
specifically asked to sign o­n to the Framework, nor were they very deeply
involved in its development.  That was quite deliberate, but in no way denies
the indispensable role which governments must play to make the Framework a
reality. 

Our initiative should be understood for what it is ? an attempt by leading non-
government parties and Aboriginal peoples to collaborate and generate solutions
for governments to consider.  In the past, governments have claimed their
options were severely limited by adversarial relationships between First
Nations, industry and conservation groups.  This constant warfare has forced
governments to referee among competing interests ? a dynamic which I think you
might agree has not historically benefited Canada?s forests. 

The Framework presents a new model for conservation, where non-government
parties actually talk to each other and try to arrive at mutually agreed-upon
conservation proposals that we can bring forward together.  I find it strangely
contradictory for governments to plead an inability to act  and to criticize
those of us outside government for not getting our act together, then to
criticize us when we do.  Still, at the end of the day, o­n public lands it
remains governments who have the legal and political responsibility to actually
decide o­n these matters o­n behalf of those who democratically elected them. 
That is why the Framework partners have clearly said that we want to reach out
to governments at all levels to further refine the Framework vision and explore
opportunities for governments to lever substantial policy and legislative
initiatives in support of implementing this vision o­n a national scale.

I would therefore argue that all parties to the Boreal Forest Conservation
Framework fully acknowledge and respect the role that governments must play in
the conservation of Canada?s forests.  In fact, we are trying to constructively
help governments do a better job than they have up to now.  However, the status
quo is not acceptable to any of us, especially given the pressures the boreal
region now faces, which are o­nly going to intensify.  Critics who accuse the
Framework of ?giving the forest away? seem to assume that it was safe or
unthreatened until we came along.  Far from it.

I acknowledge that this new model of change is drawing fire from those who are
rooted in the past model which, frankly, has poorly served our common cause. 
Canadians can either trust that our governments will someday become
sufficiently resourced and inspired to do the right thing, hoping that our
forests will survive the long wait; or we can take responsibility for what we
deeply care about, and show leadership where governments have not. Perhaps that
is where you and I part company, Charles, but I assure you it is an approach
most definitely supported by the board and members of WWF, as well as the other
signatories to the Boreal Framework.

I hope we can agree to disagree o­n this o­ne, while continuing to work together
on so much else that still needs doing.

Sincerely,


Monte Hummel O.C.
President
WWF-Canada

Copies to: 

Phil Fontaine ? Assembly of First Nations
Elizabeth May ? Sierra Club of Canada
Joe Foy ? Western Canadian Wilderness Committee
Julie Gelfand ? Canadian Nature Federation
Peter Tabuns ? Greenpeace Canada
Jim Fulton ? David Suzuki Foundation
Joan Kuyek ? Miningwatch Canada
Kevin O?Reilly ? Canadian Arctic Resources Committee
Paul Muldoon ? Canadian Environmental Law Association
Mike Quinn ? Miistakis Institute for the Rockies
John Lounds ? Nature Conservancy of Canada
Mark Winfield ? Pembina Institute
Jerry de Marco ? Sierra Legal Defence Fund
Chris Rolfe ? West Coast Environmental Law
Ola Ullsten ? World Commission o­n Forests and Sustainable Development
Mark Rudolph ? justenvironment
Cathy Wilkinson ? Canadian Boreal Initiative
Allanna Mitchell ? The Globe and Mail
Cameron Smith ? The Toronto Star
Kate Jaimet ? The Ottawa Citizen
Dennis Bueckhert ? Canadian Press

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

December 19, 2003
 
Mr. Monte Hummel
President
World Wildlife Fund Canada
245 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 410
Toronto, o­n  M4P 3J1
 
Dear Monte:
 
The purpose of this letter is to express my deep concern and disappointment
with the proposed Boreal Forest Conservation Framework.  As you know, the
wildlife heritage of this continent and the stability of its climate depends in
good part o­n the forest cover, and particularly o­n the cover provided by the
boreal forest.  Because of soil and climate, the growth cycle of this forest is
very slow ? in the case of conifers, over 300 years.  The boreal forest also
absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen.  Canada has ratified an international
convention linked with these functions of the boreal forest.  In addition, the
level of rivers and water flows are regulated by the presence of the forest and
the role of its root system.  Canada, because of the 1992 Convention o­n
Biodiversity and because of the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, has a
particular interest in the boreal forest and its retention.  o­ne has also to
assume that the aboriginal and m?tis people have a particular interest as well ?
 retaining and protecting their way of life which depends o­n the boreal
forest.  Finally, the boreal is o­ne of the few frontier forests left, world-
wide, as shown by the World Resources Institute in a study carried out in 2002.
 
You will therefore understand the surprise and dismay o­n the part of many when
learning about the proposed Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, announced by
WWF with three other NGOs and four forest companies, which would limit to 50%
the conservation of the boreal forest.  Some of my colleagues actively involved
in environmental protection and natural resources are simply appalled at the
proposed terms of the Framework.  As you know, the Senate of Canada conducted a
study o­n the boreal forest three years ago.  It recommended 20% for
exploitation purposes and even that ? in my view ? is a high percentage given
the role of the forest in protecting wildlife and the ecosystem.
 
Finally, it seems to me the mandate of the WWF is clearly to fight for the
retention and possible expansion of the existing forest cover rather than its
reduction for wildlife habitat.  It would appear instead that your current
policy is aimed at a compromise-driven goal and I wonder whether your board of
directors had the opportunity and time to discuss this matter and its
consequences in detail.  The public, by and large, believes the WWF works to
enhance, and not reduce, the protection of wildlife.  It therefore becomes very
disturbing to learn about a flawed (both in its process as well as in its
substance) framework, arrived at with poor consultation and containing a
compromise which your membership and the public would likely deplore and reject.
 
I look forward to your reply and send you my best regards.
 
 
 
Sincerely,
 

c.c.
 
Board Members of WWF Canada
Phil Fontaine ? Assembly of First Nations
Elizabeth May ? Sierra Club of Canada
Joe Foy ? Western Wilderness Committee
Julie Gelfand ? Canadian Nature Federation
Peter Tabuns ? Greenpeace Canada
Jim Fulton ? David Suzuki Foundation
Joan Kuyek ? Miningwatch Canada
Kevin O?Reilly ? Canadian Arctic Resources Committee
Paul Muldoon ? Canadian Environmental Law Association
Mike Quinn ? Miistakis Institute for the Rockies
John Lounds ? Nature Conservancy of Canada
Mark Winfield ? Pembina Institute
Jerry DeMarco ? Sierra Legal Defence Fund
Chris Rolfe ? West Coast Environmental Law
Ola Ullsten ? World Commission o­n Forests and Sustainable Development
Alanna Mitchell ? The Globe and Mail
Cameron Smith ? The Toronto Star
Kate Jaimet ? The Ottawa Citizen
Dennis Bueckert ? Canadian Press
 

Last Updated on Monday, 12 January 2004 01:31
 

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