Nine environmental groups and 21 forest companies signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) on May 18, 2010. Signatories committed to protecting Canada’s Boreal Forest. The CBFA covers 72 million hectares of Boreal Forest, twice the size of Germany. Logging companies agreed to a moratorium on logging in almost 29 million hectares of the 72 million hectares covered by the CBFA. The moratorium area covers almost the whole habitat of the threatened woodland caribou. Greenpeace estimates that 50 to 70 percent of the Boreal Forest in the tenures of the signatory companies will be conserved.
Since the signing of the CBFA, Greenpeace has worked with logging companies to preserve the Boreal Forest. In Quebec, Greenpeace staff is working with the logging company, AbitibiBowater to identify protected areas and develop conservation measures in a 57,000 square kilometer area. In Ontario, Greenpeace and logging companies (AbitibiBowater, Tembec, Weyerhaeuser) developed joint recommendations on how to save caribou, which were sent to the Ontario government.
Canada’s Boreal Forest is 1.4 billion acres, one-quarter of the earth’s intact, original forest, as Greenpeace puts it, and accounts for 77 percent of Canada’s forests. It contains an estimated 1.5 million lakes, home to half of Canada’s 450 bird species.
Over 88 percent of Canada’s Boreal Forests are publicly owned, and of this entire area, only 10 to 15 percent remains as intact forest; the rest has already been logged or fragmented. Almost 190,000 square kilometers of public forest have been logged since the 1970s, an area half the size of Germany and six times the size of Belgium.
According to the Greenpeace report, “Threatened Wilderness: The Last Intact Forests of Ontario,” the last large intact forest areas in the southern Boreal Forest will be gone by 2025 if they are not protected. Canada’s intact Boreal Forests contain some of the largest carbon stocks, and logging them will contribute to climate change.
“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, Greenpeace forest campaign coordinator at the news conference.
“The importance of this Agreement cannot be overstated,” said Avrim Lazar, President and CEO of FPAC at the news conference. “FPAC member companies and their ENGO counterparts have turned the old paradigm on its head. Together we have identified a more intelligent, productive way to manage economic and environmental challenges in the boreal that will reassure global buyers of our products’ sustainability.”