Last week’s Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement marked a monumental step forward in the forest conservation process. Twenty-one organizations from the logging industry which collectively own over 70% of the rights to Canada’s forests made a pact with nine big name environmental protection groups, Greenpeace included, to more responsibly manage the ecosystem there. As corporations put aside environmentally damaging economic incentives, environmental organizations like ForestEthics and The Nature Conservancy will agree to stop their “do not buy” campaigns which targeted products made from Boreal Forest resources.
In what some are calling the biggest conservation deal in history, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement will affect almost 178 million acres of land (bigger than that of Spain and Portugal). There will be an immediate three year moratorium on logging in a 72 million acre area and major efforts will be made to protect the indigenous woodland caribou species.
According to TerraDaily, an environmental news site, the 1.3-billion-acre Canadian Boreal Forest is one of the largest intact ecosystems remaining in the world. Its valleys, wetlands, lakes and tundra are home to wolves, bears, and the largest caribou herds in the world, as well as a nesting ground for more than 300 bird species. Its trees and peat moss also store an estimated 200 billion tons of CO2.
Conservation efforts would be more effective and longer-lasting if the government would cooperate, but corporate environmental efforts are still a promising symbol of progress. As a result of strong boycott campaigns orchestrated by groups like Greenpeace, conservation agreements were made with the Forest Products Association of Canada, a trade group. The Economist quotes the head of this organization as saying, “There was a general feeling that our differences in reality were smaller than the differences we presented in the public debates. We had fallen into cultural role-playing that wasn’t getting either side the outcomes we were looking for.”
So it looks like the logging industry has really woken up to the environmental challenges that the earth faces and is making positive strides toward implementing more responsible business practices.