The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) is preparing to launch a campaign designed to bring residents from across Ontario into a conversation about the importance of Ontario’s Boreal Forest to Northern communities, Ontario’s economy and the environment.
FONOM’s efforts come on the heels of another announcement from the environmental NGO community that threatens the work of the historical Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA).
Named Boreal Matters, the campaign will consist of a website and social media presence, encouraging direct engagement with Ontarians to appreciate the importance of managing the forest in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner.
In December, 2012, Greenpeace Canada made a series of false accusations regarding Resolute Forest Products’ operations within the Boreal and walked away from the CBFA in protest, accusations which Greenpeace Canada has since admitted were false. This week, Vancouver-based Canopy pulled out of the CBFA as well, claiming to be frustrated with the speed of the CBFA’s work.
As a representative of many communities that rely heavily on the sustainable management of boreal forest resources, FONOM is concerned about the impact these moves will have on Northern Ontario residents and our province’s economy as a whole.
“FONOM understands the importance of sustainably and responsibly harvesting the Boreal Forest. It is a resource that has helped develop the North and needs to be responsibly managed to allow for Northern Ontario's future success,” said Al Spacek, mayor of Kapuskasing and president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities. “FONOM is disappointed Greenpeace and Canopy have unilaterally withdrawn from the agreement to go their own way. We want to ensure Northern communities, that rely on the Boreal Forest as a key economic driver, are part of the discussion.”
The campaign will be calling on Ontarians to express their support for the extension of the CBFA through the Boreal Matters Facebook page and website www.borealmatters.org.
“We believe Ontarians are supportive of any effort to combine economic growth with environmental sustainability, and we hope to convince CBFA members that an extension of the agreement is important to the future of the North,” said Spacek.
Some facts the campaign is delivering include: Canada continues to maintain 90 per cent of its pre-European settlement forest cover; the deforestation rate in Canada is zero, with three trees being planted for every harvested tree; 650 million seedlings are planted each year in Canada; forest biomass now constitutes 60 per cent of energy needs of Canada’s pulp and paper industry; 0.2 per cent of the Boreal Forest is harvested each year – in comparison, 1 per cent of the forest is disturbed by wildfires, disease and insects; 9 per cent of Ontario’s Boreal Forest is within parks and protected areas; by law, all forests harvested in Canada’s public land must be successfully regenerated.