Canadian NGOs Betray First Nations and Forests

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A Globe & Mail editorial calls the new Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement “nothing less than historic” and says it “serves as a model of non-governmental co-operation.” Indigenous activists call it a betrayal.

Below,  a CTV news report that includes an interview with Clayton Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

See also this report in Vancouver Media Co-Op.


  • Excerpt from an excellent article by Roger Annis:

    The agreement’s potential to “open a different era of forest management” that protects the biosphere seems dubious. For one, the participation of forest companies is voluntary. In Alberta, to take one example, non-signatory companies hold cutting rights on 20 per cent of the commercially viable boreal forest in the province. In the same province, only one-quarter of the tenured lands of signatory companies are covered by the agreement. Only eight per cent of Alberta’s 50 million hectares of boreal forest will be protected from cutting or road-building by forest companies.

  • More details from the fine print of the Boreal Forest Agreement:

    “The deal still allows 684,461 hectares to be cut in caribou habitat. This, despite the fact that an expert committee of the Canadian Wildlife Service recently recommended that virtually all industrial activity within woodland caribou range be suspended. In agreeing to the CBFA, the nine ENGOs involved are actively supporting the logging of an area larger than the entire province of Prince Edward Island within caribou habitat between now and 2012.

    “According to section 14.F of the deal, ‘FPAC members will publicly state that between April 1 2009 and March 31, 2012 there will be no harvesting or road building in approximately 28,651,492 hectares of caribou range in their tenures (or over 97.6 per cent of the caribou habitat in managed forest).’

    “By reducing the overall number of hectares of caribou range they refer to, logging companies and ENGOs can claim a near total halt on logging in caribou range lands, even though they’ll still log 684,461 hectares, almost 10 times the area they’re claiming to have saved.

    “Finally, the ‘three year’ deal actually started more than a year ago, on April 1, 2009: industry promises for harvesting deferrals expire April 1, 2012.”


  • From a dissident NGO:

    Ontario’s Forests Still at Risk


    Despite announcements made [May 18], the devastation of Ontario’s forests continues largely unabated. Giant clearcuts, which level forested areas as large as pre-megacity Toronto (10,000 ha), still make up 94% of the area logged each year in Ontario. Canada’s logging industry employs only 2/3 of the workers per tree cut that Sweden employs, and Ontario has still not respected the human right of Indigenous peoples to say “no” to logging on their traditional lands.

    “Ontarians should not rest easily about the health of our forests,” said David Sone of Earthroots. “Our forests are still being decimated by the same cut-and-run logging industry giants who leave a trail of laid off workers, violated Indigenous land rights, and ecologically barren clearcuts before moving on to new jurisdictions with weaker environmental and human rights standards.”

  • The Boreal Forest Agreement is a huge public relations coup for the multinational forest industry giants.

    The capitalist media and the sell-out NGOs are crowing about how the forest industry has agreed to stop logging and road-building in 40% of their land tenures in the boreal forest (29 million of 72 million hectares). These just happen to be the areas where the forest industry has already built logging roads and clear-cut vast swathes of trees. Now they are free to build roads and cut trees in the other 60% without a word of objection from Greenpeace, ForestEthics, Canopy, the David Suzuki Foundation, The Pew Environmnetal Group, or the other “green” NGO’s who signed the deal.

    In fact, those NGOs are committed by the deal to “engage in recognizing and applauding the efforts of participating companies to international markets” and help “reassure global buyers of [Canadian forest] products’ sustainability”. As the right-wing National Post newspaper noted:

    “[T]he agreement actually requires the environmental signatories… to come to the defence of the FPAC companies should their practices in the boreal forest come under attack.