Wood Business

Industry News News Forestry Management Harvesting
Ontario forestry communities ask for a solution to the Endangered Species Act


December 16, 2019
By Alliance

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During the 2018 provincial election, an alliance of First Nation and non-First Nation (The Alliance) leaders from across Northern and Rural Ontario asked all three parties if they would stand up for Ontario’s renewable forest sector. In formal letters, the alliance outlined key issues with the two priorities being the development of a Provincial Forest Sector Strategy that accepts and embraces the sustainable use of Ontario’s forests and a long-term, workable solution that permanently removes the duplication between the Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Mayor Wendy Landry of Shuniah and president of NOMA said, “We are very encouraged by the government’s announcement of a draft Provincial Forest Sector Strategy (PFSS). We have been working collectively for years to have government acknowledge the vital role that forestry plays in our communities across Ontario and for the 155,000 hardworking families that are directly and indirectly employed by the sector.” Landry continued, “However, the most important action the government must take is a permanent recognition of the CFSA as the main legislation for managing species at risk. Having two acts attempting to accomplish the same outcome represent the single greatest piece of red tape and duplication to Ontario’s forest sector.”

“The essential first step to the successful implementation of Ontario’s Forest Sector Strategy is a permanent solution for the forest sector that allows this sector to operate under one act – the CFSA. As a member of the alliance, we were pleased in April 2018 when the former premier and her government announced a two-year extension to the current regulation for forest management under the ESA.” stated Mayor Roger Sigouin of Hearst.

Mayor Sigouin continued, “These extensions, however, do not provide any long-term business certainty. Currently, the forest sector operates under this regulation until its expiration in July of 2020.”

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“As Chief of a First Nation that has commenced operations at its sawmill, which is employing members and generating a future for our community, it is incredibly frustrating to see the recent misinformation regarding this sector.  Having said that, we are encouraged by the public draft strategy but demand a permanent solution to species at risk policy. Without a solution, misguided regulations have the potential to be detrimental to the future development of our community,” said Chief Joe Ladouceur of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek. He continued by saying, “If the federal government steps into traditional and provincial lands and prescribes how forests will be managed, there will be a very real negative impact to the regional economies of Ontario.”

Representing 40 First Nations across Ontario, Deputy Grand Council Chief Edward Wawia recalled, “In May 2018, in a formal letter to federal ministers, the alliance clearly outlined concerns about the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts of unbalanced species at risk (SAR) policy. The recent investments our communities have made in the forest sector has created significant opportunities and hundreds of new jobs for First Nations. Our forest operations generate wealth that offsets costs for social and economic development, so our communities can be self -sustainable. Our future includes forestry and we hope that the federal and provincial governments will support our shared forestry interest. We are grateful for the hard work on the new strategy; however, we demand that government make a decision as soon as possible on the ESA. How can our communities look to a future in the industry without a long-term solution to the ESA?”

Jason Lacko, recording secretary United Steelworkers Local 1-2010 commented, “The United Steelworkers has been working collaboratively with the members of the Alliance for years because our 2500 forestry workers in Ontario are depending on a long-term workable solution to the ESA. Forestry matters and we need action now.”

Red Rock Indian Band Chief Marcus Hardy explained, “Forestry has been the backbone of the Red Rock Indian Band’s economic advancement for over 20 years. Our members and the residents of our neighbouring communities depend on the sustainability of the forests. We are now depending on the Provincial Government to rectify and provide a permanent solution to the ESA-CFSA overlap.”

The Alliance agreed that last week’s announcement of a provincial forest sector strategy was positive news noting that Ontario’s forestry community is deeply rooted in every region of the province. Ian Dunn, Director of Forestry and Environmental Policy at the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA), noted, “A study commissioned by the United Nations indicates that global demand for forest products is expected to increase by more than 30% by 2030, we know that consumers have realized that forest products are critical to a sustainable bioeconomy. From replacing single-use plastics, to displacing more carbon intensive building materials like concrete and steel, we are witnessing a cultural shift towards sustainably sourced forest products.”

He continued, “Many licensed forest professionals have asked previous governments that in order to ensure forest sustainability and deliver on forest management objectives it is essential to have a permanent solution to the ESA-CFSA issue. Twelve years and many regulations later, we are waiting for a government to finally deliver on this.”

Jamie Lim, president and CEO of Ontario Forest Industries Association concluded, “Other progressive jurisdictions around the world, such as Finland, embrace the sustainable use of their forests and are realizing the emerging opportunities that the bio-economy and the growing demand for new and existing solid wood products can provide.  These jurisdictions also recognize the positive role that active forest management can play in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. With a forward-looking strategy and a permanent workable solution to the ESA, Ontario can become a global leader in forestry and the bio-economy.”