Local forestry safe under Trump: FSC president

February 23, 2017

By: The Working Forest Staff

A Donald Trump presidency doesn’t have to mean uncertainty for the local forestry industry or its environmental ethics, according to the head of Canada’s greenest forestry certification organization.

Forest Stewardship Council president Francois Dufresne pointed out the 35-year-old softwood lumber disupte between Canada and the United States far precedes Trump’s political career and he predicts the US market for the pulp produced in Thunder Bay will continue to grow.

“There’s an increasing demand for pulp that gives you an advantage that has been on the rise for at least five to 10 years and that will just keep going,” Dufresne said.

“That won’t change just because you have a Trump presidency in the US. Companies like Proctor & Gamble are demanding pulp coming from areas like Thunder Bay that are in responsibly-managed areas of the Boreal (Forest).”

Beyond the US, Dufresne added, Canadian forest products has a strong reputation as ethcially-sourced wood in European markets.

“I strongly believe it’s in our best interests to trade whether it’s with the US or with other nations in natural resources, not just forestry but also others, mining and energy,” he said.

“Having a strong consensus from responsible sources, it’s only a plus to show we can work with First Nations and respect the environment and respect the Boreal.”

Dufresne was in Northwestern Ontario this week meeting with First Nations leaders as the FSC informs the final draft in its adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The UN declaration’s inclusion of “free, prior and informed consent” for Indigenous communities when it comes to forestry development, Dufresne insists, will be anything but a contract giving First Nations communities license to stop forestry from happening.

“What we’re trying to implement is an approach that’s going to be built on a trust relationship so it’s more of a journey, a continuous improvement process than having consent that would be present for the auditor’s process,” he said.

“We have embedded in this improvement process a mechanism to avoid this perception of a veto. I think that’s what worries the industry, not just in Thunder Bay but across the nation about free, prior and informed consent. I don’t think First Nations themselves see it that way.”

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