Last year, PEFC revolutionized forest certification by moving it out of the forest. Now, people and organizations owning or managing trees growing outside of forests can achieve PEFC certification of their sustainable management practices. This is a big leap forward. But what does it really mean on the ground? Trees outside forests are immensely important for rural communities around the world. Millions of people rely on this resource to provide them with food, materials and their livelihoods. If managed sustainably, they can contribute to rural development, food security and reduced poverty – vital Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We find these trees throughout landscapes, from scattered on farms and settlement land, to growing in hedgerows and alongside fields. Often, trees are just one of many crops grown by a farmer or a community.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) International is convening a mediation process to bring together stakeholders in a spirit of collaboration, to address issues raised recently in Canada, particularly in Quebec and in Ontario, about FSC certification.
Over the last two years, significant areas of FSC certified forests were suspended in Canada mainly because of lack of consent from First Nations, and also because of inadequate forest management plans for species at risk, namely woodlands caribou in the Canadian boreal forest. Most of these suspended or terminated FSC certificates are held by Resolute Forest Products (Resolute FP).
Based on a continued lack of dialogue between Resolute FP and its stakeholders, FSC believes that this mediation will lead to constructive solutions and restore trust between First Nations, unions, communities, environmental groups and Resolute FP.
The mediation will focus on Quebec where the government’s role is key. The scope of the mediation process is to find common ground on which to resolve issues related to First Nations’ free, prior and informed consent and the woodland caribou habitat recovery plan. The primary focus will be on the suspended Lac St-Jean FSC certificate and the terminated Mistassini FSC certificates. FSC believes this mediation could also help other forest management units impacted by similar issues in the area.
“FSC’s goal is to provide the framework for a viable environment, securing sustainable employment while protecting the forest and upholding aboriginal and community rights,” said Kim Carstensen, Director General, FSC International.
FSC believes that the strengthening of its certification standard, particularly within the Canadian boreal forest, will enhance Canada’s international standing and credibility as a supplier of forest products from responsible sources.