The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) is the largest conservation opportunity on Earth, and certainly among the most complex attempts ever to protect vast areas of old-growth forest. Industry, nonprofits, science-based organization, and advocacy organizations have been wrestling over the fate of an area of forest the size of Texas—178 million acres / 72 million hectares.
It doesn't get more complicated and it doesn’t get more important: forests like Canada’s Boreal are critical for clean air, fresh water, and the survival of countless species. Without vast protected areas in forests like Canada’s Boreal, it will be impossible to curb the most radical impacts of climate change. As recent extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy are making clear, these changes are already happening.
That we protect forests is a mandate—how we do it is the question. Today GreenPeace Canada left the CBFA—a decision we understand—based on frustration with the pace of the CBFA and disappointment with specific actions taken by Resolute Logging Corporation. ForestEthics is also frustrated with the slow pace of the CBFA and we believe that Resolute in particular has been intransigent. That is a message we will ensure the US marketplace hears loud and clear.
In an undertaking as complex as the CBFA, we need to be patient. The CBFA is about so much more than Resolute in particular. It includes 21 logging companies and eight environmental organizations attempting to do the grueling work of converting years of open conflict into a win-win that does what some believe is impossible: balance economic viability and certainty with the need for vast tracts of caribou habitat in the Boreal to be protected. It is about literally hundreds of people: First Nations, environmental organizations from Canada and the US, community groups throughout the Boreal, logging companies, scientists—sitting at the same table and trying to hammer out a path in the Boreal that better balances diverse needs. That is challenging and, at times, slow work requiring deep commitment and perseverance for the forests and for our climate.
Having done the "impossible" before in the ancient forests of Chile, British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest and Inland Temperate Rainforest, and beyond, we believe that it is not yet time to give up on the CBFA. That time may come. Right now, all signatories, especially Resolute, are under incredible pressure to move the dream of the Boreal Agreement rapidly into reality.
We have but a handful of months to show the world that what we all announced and signed onto in May 2010 is real and capable of delivering on its promise with millions of acres being protected along with economic certainty for industry.
We and other environmental groups are meeting next week with Resolute. The stakes have never been higher for the CBFA and for the Boreal forest. And for a limited time, we still believe that protection of the Boreal is better secured through working together within the framework we all created; doing the sometimes grinding work of reaching across the aisle to people, organizations and companies that we don’t always agree with. Time is running out—but for the forests, we have to give it one last shot.