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Forest poll part of anti-Canadian trade campaign, industry says

Ottawa funds group targeting U.S. wood product purchases
More than half of Canada’s forests have no industrial activity, and the remainder is strictly regulated, the Forest Products Association of Canada says. (B.C. government photo)

A poll showing most Canadians believe their governments aren’t doing enough to protect forests from logging is being coordinated with efforts to block purchases of Canadian forest products in the U.S., the president of the Forest Products Association of Canada says.

Derek Nighbor describes a news release and poll out this week from Nature Canada as “disingenuous,” implying unregulated destruction of forests across the country, including B.C., which has been targeted by anti-logging protesters for decades. The survey refers to Canada’s boreal forest, but does not disclose that more than half of Canada’s vast forests have no industrial activity at all. Of the 48 per cent that does, half of that is under conservation measures that are not counted as protection, Nighbor said in an interview Monday (March 28). He said Canada is responsible for 40 per cent of the environmentally certified forests in the world.

Nature Canada lists among its biggest donors some of the U.S. foundations that backed the creation of B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest preservation area in 2007, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Nighbor notes that Nature Canada’s “champions circle” of donors, contributing $100,000 or more, also lists Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Nighbor said he has contacted those federal departments to ask why they are helping to finance an organization that is providing misleading information about Canada’s forest practices and is also lobbying the U.S. states of California and New York to stop buying Canadian forest products.

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The poll also finds support from three out of four Canadians for extending carbon tax on wood used as fuel, such as wood pellets made from B.C.’s residual wood and shipped mainly to the U.K. to replace coal in power plants. Wood is treated as a renewable, net-zero fuel in Canada and other countries.

Critics of Canada and B.C.’s forest practices overlook the environmental benefits of forest management, including renewable fuel, carbon sequestration from wood construction and wildfire management, Nighbor said. The effects of climate change on strictly preserved forests such as Jasper National Park has been graphically shown in recent years.

“Mountain pine beetle ripped through that park and turned it into a [net] carbon source,” as dead trees either rotted or burned, he said.


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