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Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – Progress Continues, But There Is Still Much to Do!


The second anniversary of the historic Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) is rapidly approaching, and here at CPAWS we continue to be excited by the progress that we’ve made and the great potential for conservation outcomes from the agreement. CPAWS has been part of the CBFA from its very beginning, and our staff continue to be leaders in the on-going work to implement the agreement in all regions of the country.

For those of you new to the scene, the CBFA is an historic undertaking between 9 leading Canadian environmental groups and 21 member companies of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC). The CBFA is the largest conservation project of its kind in the world, and immediately resulted in 29 million hectares of tenured intact forest lands being set aside from harvesting for the duration of the agreement to allow for the development of longer term solutions.

CPAWS has continued to work with a variety of First Nations, government, industry, and environmental organizations to implement the agreement. While the CBFA is shy of meeting all of the milestones expected by now, we are optimistic that the pace will accelerate to achieve even greater conservation gains, now that the groundwork has been laid. Conservation on the grand scale of the CBFA was a challenge from the outset, and so it is not surprising that addressing the realities of planning for both economic viability and conservation has turned out to be very complex.

Despite the challenges before us, we believe that much has been achieved in the CBFA and are looking forward to the coming months, when we expect several new announcements to be made about outcomes from the agreement.

Let’s go over the highlights of what we’ve achieved so far:

  • A plan to conserve caribou habitat and sustain forestry in Ontario's northeast Abitibi River Forest is complete and has been presented to the province. The conservation groups and forest companies have worked with local mayors, First Nations and the provincial government to incorporate caribou conservation into the proposed forest management plan for the next 80-90 years. This should result in conservation of an area larger than Ontario’s Algonquin Park!
  • Caribou conservation plans proposed by environmental groups are under active negotiation with companies in Northwestern Ontario in an area called the "Caribou Forest", and in Quebec. A draft caribou conservation plan by companies and conservation groups is also under development for forest tenures in northeast Alberta. We are close to delivering these plans!
  • The companies and conservation groups have signed agreements about the scientific approaches that will be used to plan for caribou conservation and protected areas - which are fundamental requirements for successful negotiations. These have been shared with the federal government and various provinces and have informed discussions and negotiations for forestry plans across the country over the past year.
  • Discussions have also begun under the CBFA in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland between conservation groups, First Nations and forest companies to develop conservation-based forest management plans that will protect woodland caribou - which are beyond the initial scope of work forecast for the first 2 years under the agreement. So, we are actually ahead of schedule in these provinces!

While CPAWS and our partners have achieved a great deal through the CBFA, we are always aware of the patience and dedication that is required to achieve strong conservation outcomes. We remain committed to proving that by working together, industry and environmentalists will jointly protect wildlife and conserve forests while securing jobs and ensuring a more competitive forest products industry.