Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry

Issue 2 - Evidence - Meeting of April 28, 2009

OTTAWA, Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 5:31 p.m. to study on the current state and future of Canada's forest sector.

Senator Percy Mockler (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: I see that we have quorum. Therefore, I declare the meeting in session.

Mr. Pineau and Mr. Bombay, I welcome you to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. My name is Percy Mockler. I am a senator from New Brunswick and chair of this committee. At this time I would like to start to my right and have the other senators introduce themselves. We will then go to the presentations of our representatives.


Senator Housakos: My name is Léo Housakos. I am a senator from Quebec.

Senator Eaton: My name is Nicole Eaton. I am a senator from Ontario.

Senator Poulin: Welcome to the committee, Mr. Pineau and Mr. Bombay. My name is Marie Poulin and I have represented northern Ontario since 1995.


Welcome. We are looking forward to hearing your testimony on such an important study as forestry.

Senator Cordy: Welcome to our committee. I am Jane Cordy, and I am a senator from Nova Scotia.

Senator Mahovlich: Frank Mahovlich, Northern Ontario, and I am from the boreal forest way up there in Timmins.

Senator Mercer: Terry Mercer, senator for Nova Scotia.


Senator Rivard: My name is Michel Rivard. I am a senator from Quebec, more precisely from the Laurentians.

The Chair: The meeting today is the committee's third meeting for its study on the current state and future of Canada's forest sector.


In order to gain an overview of the forest industry, the first phase of the study is to gather more global information. With us today, we have representatives from two national groups. From the Canadian Institute of Forestry, we have John Pineau, Executive Director. Thank you for appearing.


And our second witness is Mr. Harry Bombay, Executive Director of the National Aboriginal Forestry Association.


We thank you for accepting this invitation to appear today. Before I ask you to take the floor, I will ask the deputy chair of the committee to introduce herself.

Senator Fairbairn: Good evening. I am Senator Joyce Fairbairn, and I am from Lethbridge, Alberta. I am a long'living member of this very fine committee. I am glad to see you here.

Harry Bombay, Executive Director, National Aboriginal Forestry Association: I would like to thank the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry for inviting me to present an Aboriginal perspective on the forest sector. Recognizing that the work of this committee has just begun, we are one of the first organizations to appear before this committee, and it is hoped that the essence of this presentation stays with you for the duration of your work. Many of the issues we will address through our association require both long-term and short-term attention, and we hope to raise many of our issues over the short term, some of which I will mention today.

First, I will give you a little background on our association, the National Aboriginal Forestry Association, NAFA. That is not to be confused with NAFTA. We are a non-governmental, First-Nation-controlled organization focused on research and advocacy activities in the forest sector. We advocate for forest policy frameworks that will address Aboriginal rights, values and interests and will lead to a more equitable sharing of benefits from the forest resources from this vast land we call Canada.

We wish to contribute to the development of an Aboriginal forest-based economy in this country. We recognize that an Aboriginal forest-based economy cannot be achieved in isolation of the broader forest sector and of the economic realities facing all forest industries in Canada. We do, however, have unique circumstances, challenges and, as Aboriginal peoples, I believe we have some opportunities that are distinct to our communities.

In my presentation today, I would like to respond to the four issues you have identified in your invitation to appear here and that you intend to address in your forest sector study. First I would like to set the context.

When I speak of the forest sector, I am referring to all of the people and organizations that derive value and create wealth and well-being from our forests. It includes the forest industries, pulp and paper, lumber, value-added and secondary manufacturing, commercial logging, non-timber forest products, forest bio-products and the emerging sector of ecological goods and services. It also includes the forest management regimes of federal, provincial, First Nation, territorial governments and non-consumptive users that benefit from recreational, spiritual and wilderness activity and values.

To this point in time, Aboriginal peoples in Canada have played a minor role in forest management and in other forest sector activities despite a number of facts. First, 80 per cent of our communities are located in forested areas of the country. As well, the protection of our cultures, as expressed through our relationships with the land, and our prospects for future well-being are all linked to healthy forests and the sustainable use of forest resources.

Aboriginal participation in the forest sector is conceptually a fundamental component of sustainable forest management. Aboriginal and treaty rights, which have been recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada and other courts throughout the land, give us the basis for our participation in the forest sector, and these rights are constitutionally protected. These rights, in effect, are a form of forest tenure because they guarantee our continued use of the land, yet they have not been reconciled in Canada with the forest tenure systems of provinces and other governments. That is one of the major challenges we face today.

With respect to our involvement in the forest industries, our role has largely been to provide labour and wood supply to large forest products companies. Most Aboriginal forest companies are involved in timber harvesting, silviculture and the provision of a few upstream forest management services. We estimate that of the existing 1,200 to 1,400 Aboriginal forest-based businesses in Canada, more than 85 per cent are concentrated in the areas I just mentioned. With respect to wood processing and manufacturing, First Nations hold an equity position in about 50 small wood processing establishments, which is a small fraction of the 3,000 to 4,000 wood processing establishments that comprise the forest products industries throughout the country. These figures could be a little out of date because a number of mills have closed down across the country.

I want to point out that Aboriginal people their communities have been impacted by the industry downturn. Several of our mills have closed and many of our harvesting companies have cut back their harvest volumes.

While that is occurring, we are gaining a strengthened position in the forest sector as a result of Aboriginal treaty rights recognition through the courts. It has been our principle driver in our participation in the forest sector and has led to such things as the Crown's duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal rights.

Other factors favour our involvement in the forest sector as well: sustainable forest management and processes such as forest certification and the demographics in the part of the country where the forest sector is the dominant force. You might know that the forest sector labour force is aging, while the Aboriginal labour force is quite young and growing quickly. We have an issue around what our young people will do in the future. Most of our population are under the age of 25. Many statistics have been formulated around that. Aboriginal people possess traditional indigenous knowledge that holds them in good stead in terms of the new emerging sectors in the forest sector today — the subsectors such as forest bio-products and ecological goods and services. We believe our unique knowledge in those areas can result in opportunities for our communities.

Also driving our participation in this sector is the fact that we have gained increased access to forest resources. The amount of forest land owned and managed by Aboriginal peoples in Canada has been increasing steadily. Currently, we control a forested land base of 55,000 square kilometres, which is scattered all over the country and equal in size to Nova Scotia. This land is important to Aboriginal peoples because we live on the land, and it is the centre for both our timber and non-timber use. These lands, which you may have heard of, consist of Indian reserve lands, land claim settlement and treaty entitlement lands, and some fee simple lands managed under various types of jurisdictional arrangements with various levels of governments. We have a maze of arrangements in terms of our involvement in the forest sector. Looking ahead, we estimate that the land base of Aboriginal peoples could double in about 25 years with the settlement of more land claims and more treaties finalized in provinces such as British Columbia. As well, forest tenure is beginning to increase in Aboriginal communities.

We have Aboriginal entities of various types. Communities have access to about 10 million-plus cubic metres of wood per year, which is largely in B.C. Activities similar to that occur in other provinces, such as New Brunswick, where we hold 5.3 per cent of the annual allowable cut. We have unique arrangements with governments that I call ``forest stewardship agreements." They exist in Quebec, Northern B.C. and Labrador. We have overriding agreements to determine how we get involved in the forest sector in those areas, and more are being negotiated. We are beginning to see more proactive arrangements on the part of provincial governments to respond to their duty to consult on and accommodate our issues.

For example, the Union of Ontario Indians is negotiating a forestry framework agreement with the Province of Ontario. We hope that this will result in some activity in that province. As you may know, First Nations have blockaded logging roads in Grassy Narrows for the last six or seven years. They now have an agreement and some compromise on forest management issues. We are gaining influence in terms of land that we manage and tenures we are beginning to acquire.

It should be pointed out that this is not uniform across the country. Various provinces have taken different approaches, and in some areas, little activity is taking place. Also worth noting is that most of the land we are gaining control of is in northern areas. In many cases, it is north of the commercial forest, making the traditional forestry industry approach less viable due to the distance to markets.

The tenure we are gaining from provincial systems is usually short-term and volume-based, which is the right to harvest wood only, thereby confining Aboriginal communities to the role of logging contractor and nothing more. We are gaining access, but the question is how this will be transferred into economic activity for Aboriginal communities. How will we derive benefit from those resources? That is a major challenge we would like to address. We feel it is timely to do that in view of the broad sector changes that are occurring in the forest sector today.

In that respect, we agree with the broad consensus in the forest sector, which was stated by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, that commodity producers will continue to contribute to the country's economy, but maintaining a prosperous and sustainable future for the forest sector will mean taking advantage of new and emerging opportunities. They are referring to more value-added processing, creating a new renewable biomass economy and creating markets for ecological goods and services, in an effort to address such areas as the mitigation of climate change.

In these areas of opportunity, governments are prepared to make major changes in policies and practices and institutions that manage and allocate resources.

Much of the research to rationalize anticipated changes in the forest sector is underway. I believe that the committee heard about this last week from Mr. Jim Farrell, Assistant Deputy Minister, Natural Resources Canada, when he appeared before the committee. The Canadian government announced $170 million for research and development to research institutes to help forest companies seize emerging opportunities. I would like to point out that Aboriginal peoples, for the reasons I have stated, are a major player in the forest sector. A key problem that we face is the fact that when the federal government announces some of these major initiatives to support the forest sector or industries, they fail to include the development needs of Aboriginal communities. However, our livelihoods and our future depend upon our involvement in the forest sector.

In our view, the federal government has a key role and likely a legal obligation to implement measures to support the Aboriginal forest sector. In the broader forest sector, the federal government is responsible for issues of importance to the national economy, trade, international relations, and federal lands and parks, and has constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities for Aboriginal peoples and their interests.

Stated in other terms, the federal government has jurisdictional responsibility for ``Indians and lands reserved for Indians." It has the fiduciary obligation for the good management of First Nation interests, a constitutional duty to protect Aboriginal and treaty rights and, in honour of the Crown, an obligation to meaningfully consult and, in certain circumstances, accommodate Aboriginal and treaty rights. Despite these responsibilities, the federal government has been silent on the relationship between Aboriginal rights and interests and forest management processes in Canada.

The federal government goes about its work using research, policy coordination initiatives, science and technology and worker adjustment programs, and a range of other economic instruments to fulfill its forest sector responsibilities. The Aboriginal forest sector calls for a similar but much more direct and explicit approach. We feel that the mandate is abundantly clear: The Government of Canada should implement specific measures to support the Aboriginal forest sector, considering our rights, interests and growing prominence in the national forest sector policy dialogue. The federal government should exert a stronger proactive voice and ensure that Aboriginal interests are addressed at the highest level, as it does for other forest management priorities within its sphere of jurisdiction.

We have identified a number of ways that the federal government can help the Aboriginal forest sector. We would like to suggest the following:

First, that the federal government define and promulgate its role in supporting the Aboriginal forest sector and the contribution it can make to the socio-economic advancement of Aboriginal peoples, to sustainable forest management generally and to the competitiveness of the forest industries in Canada.

Second, that the federal government support the establishment of a national research and policy institute on First Nations' natural resource management and development issues. This institute would conduct research and provide policy advice on the interface between First Nations' socio-economic and institutional development and prevailing natural resource management regimes.

This is an issue that the Sustainable Forest Management Network was beginning to address. This is a centre of excellence funded under the Networks of Centres of Excellence Program of the federal government. It actually closed its doors on March 31. No further research is being done through that network. They had only begun to address the issues around First Nations forest research. We feel something must take the place of this network to address Aboriginal interests in the forest sector. Of course, they would argue as a network that other areas have to be addressed as well, and this is no doubt true. From our point of view, a fundamental gap exists because no one else will do it. Sustainable forest management will be addressed through some of the provincial governments and their research institutes, but no one will pick up on the First Nation research need. Therefore, we call for the federal government to address that area.

Third, the federal government should develop a policy framework to support Aboriginal capacity building in the forest sector through the alignment and coordination of human resource, educational, economic development, governance, forestry, environmental and land administration programs. The federal government has a program in place called the First Nations Forestry Program administered by Natural Resources Canada. It is a small program providing approximately $3.5 million per year in contributions to support First Nation community-level forestry. However, it does not address the fundamental needs that Aboriginal peoples have in the forest sector. It does not deal with substantive policy issues and simply provides an introduction to forestry. The Aboriginal forest sector has many needs beyond that currently.

Fourth, the federal government should support the establishment of an Aboriginal centre for research and development focused on the commercialization of forest products and services. The primary purpose of this centre would be to help diversify the Aboriginal forest-based economy. That should be focused on how the federal government supports Aboriginal forestry today. The need to diversify is fundamental because we are getting more lands; the forest industry is pulling back, and we have less opportunity to work with them; and new opportunities in the forest sector will be in some of these emerging areas that I mentioned. The Aboriginal community needs to do research and development to determine how it will develop in these various areas. Some of these areas have unique circumstances in which Aboriginal peoples may have a competitive advantage.

Fifth, renew the First Nations Forestry Program, as this program has expired. It is on its second one-year extension. It is linked to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, INAC, economic development authorities. You may be aware that INAC is in the process of developing a new federal economic development framework. This First Nations Forestry Program is tied up in that process. We feel that priority should be given to free this program and get it onto a better footing. This new framework being developed by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada should address the broader Aboriginal forest sector beyond the First Nations Forestry Program.

Sixth, a problem we have raised many times with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is the degraded condition of Indian reserve forests in Canada. No contemporary forest management regime exists on Indian reserve forest lands. Consequently, those lands are not properly managed. Forest regeneration is badly needed as is examination of what those lands can do for Aboriginal peoples living on them. INAC needs to undertake a review of their policy for those lands.

Finally, seventh, that all federal policies, programs and initiatives of general application in the forest sector should contain an Aboriginal component with a dedicated budget, Aboriginal specific objectives and approaches to implementation and delivery that will foster greater Aboriginal participation in the sector — an issue that I have raised already.

I discussed $170 million in programming, but other programs have been supported by the federal government that tend to ignore needs of Aboriginal communities. We have research institutes in this country, such as FPInnovations and the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, that serve the larger forest industry. The federal government does not seem to be supporting smaller industries or Aboriginal peoples' involvement in the forest sector. We feel there should be more focus there. Much of the future will be with some of these new entrants into the forest sector that will require conditions conducive to their development over time. This is the case for Aboriginal people.

Some of these programs currently existing should have a component that addresses Aboriginal forest issues. We should get on with that immediately. Needs of Aboriginal people are mounting daily as change occurs in the forest sector.

Those are our recommendations with respect to what we feel the federal government can do for the Aboriginal forest sector. With respect to the forest industry crisis in Canada currently, I do not disagree with what previous witnesses have said. I read the presentations of Mr. Farrell of NRCan and Mr. Lazar of Forest Products Association of Canada.

A strong link exists between sustainable forest management, human rights and competitive forest industries. It is a matter that should not be overlooked in what we do in this sector in Canada. For example, the federal government's rejection of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples does not favour Canada's desired position as a world leader in sustainable forest management.

Concerning a vision for the forest industry, we would like to re-emphasize that more than one industry exists in this country and that numerous other players have an economic stake. Our vision is a more inclusive forest sector that enables, among other matters, an Aboriginal forest-based economy. Competitive forest industries in Canada are important to the Canadian economy and are also important to Aboriginal peoples, provided that we have the means to appropriately engage with the existing industries and with some of the emerging industries. Thank you.

John Pineau, Executive Director, Canadian Institute of Forestry: On behalf of the membership of the Canadian Institute of Forestry, I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

In my capacity as executive director of the institute, I represent approximately 2,500 forest professionals and practitioners across Canada. Our organization works actively with all that have an interest in maintaining the health of Canadian forests. Our mission is to promote excellence in forest stewardship and sustainability based on the application of sound science and research. We also work to promote a better and more balanced understanding of forestry and forests to the public and to organize and deliver opportunities for continuing education and professional development to all Canadian forest professionals and practitioners to help them maintain their competency.

Our institute has provided you with a folder of supplementary bilingual information specifically relating to this opening statement, as well as some information about the institute, its programs and positions. Throughout our 101'year history, we have worked with governments to develop, change and improve policies related to forests; and helped to disseminate new knowledge and to create a deeper understanding about forest ecosystems, ultimately helping individuals and communities to find solutions to their challenges. Our activities are driven by our passion for forests and our desire to help people in a constructive and positive manner. The institute is the only fully national organization of forest professionals and practitioners. As a result of this diversity of membership, geography, education and work experience, we are able to provide a uniquely informed commentary on forest management issues regionally, nationally and internationally.

Canada's publicly owned forests are unique in the world — vast renewable resources controlled by the provincial governments but largely operated by private corporations and cooperative groups of companies. This system has produced many benefits for our citizens: the creation of high-paying jobs, access for a variety of recreational users and, annually, a large positive balance of trade.

However, to continue to receive these and other benefits, we need to ensure we protect the ecological integrity of these forests, that is, ensure the ecological functions of the forests are not impaired. The acceptance of sustainable forests as the key concept in the National Forest Strategy demonstrates that Canadians want their forests to maintain the biological diversity, carbon storage, water regulation and the other myriad benefits that we obtain from them.

The term ``protection" often means only one thing to many of our citizens — the forest is placed in a park or a conservation area. Parks and conservation areas are certainly important, but they are only one of the tools needed to ensure that the full complement of the ecological functions of our forests is maintained over the long term. Equally important is the need to ensure that all uses, including extractive uses of our forests, contribute to maintain, unimpaired, the forest's natural ecological functions.

We respectfully offer the following background, along with suggestions and recommendations, as constructive and positive opportunities to ensure that Canadians continue to realize the multitude of benefits that our forests provide.

First, forests must continue to play a major role in Canada's future economic, social and environmental solutions. The majority of Canada's forests — 90 per cent approximately — are publicly owned. Investments in these resources must be considered as a long-term environmental investment, with corollary social and economic benefits.

With the current recession, governments should look to investing in renewal and maintenance of our publicly owned forests. This would immediately employ people across Canada, including those living in some small, remote communities, to grow, plant and tend young forests. In the longer term, this investment will create timber products, habitat for wildlife and help sequester carbon. Research and experience have shown us that good forest management has a net positive impact on carbon sequestration and possibly the mitigation of climate change. I ask you to please refer to the supplementary material we provided. You will find a news release on forests and carbon that we put out a while back.

In addition, we have provided a summary of the percentage of harvest area treated with assisted forest regeneration — that is planting and seeding — in each province. Please note that these statistics include only the area harvested, not total area depleted by natural causes such as fire, wind, insects and disease, which is substantial but varies annually.

We highly recommend the development of sound plans for areas where natural regeneration is required, and the development of a national seed crop forecasting system to assist in the timing of site preparation and tending operations for regeneration of the forest. We recently recommended this action to the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers when we met with their coordinating body in September 2008.

Second, we need to ensure that the people of Canada have access to objective and accurate information about their forests. Democracies are best served when citizens are engaged and able to discuss and debate the issues of importance to them and their future generations. We must have available, objective and accurate information on changes in our forests, such as their composition and structure, biodiversity and carbon content. Studies that have been published in refereed journals show changes in tree species' composition have occurred in Canada's forests. In general, the area of conifer forests is declining, and these forests are becoming increasingly mixed with hardwoods such as white birch and poplars. Maintaining the diversity of forest structure, species composition and age on the land is essential.

Again, you can check our supplementary material. You will find a media release on forest birds and how good forest management and good science can help to promote and maintain populations of forest birds.

While there are differences in the processes used in each province and territory to regulate forest activities, certain similarities are uniquely Canadian. Electronic data and analytical methods, for example, are fundamental components of forest management in Canada. Unlike many other forest nations, the management of Canada's forests is based on forest inventories created primarily through the use of aerial photography. These forest inventories, although generally coarse level, are the principal data sets used in computer models to project changes in the structure and composition of forests that result from regeneration, growth, mortality and various causes, such as aging and natural and human'caused disturbances.

This use of interpretative data and virtual forest models is beneficial as it enables us to efficiently test and compare a variety of different harvest regimes, including no harvesting and regeneration scenarios over very large land masses over time. However, we must recognize their limitations and our need, ability and obligation to use new technologies to improve the quality of this derived data and to ensure that both it and the rules used in sophisticated electronic tools are verified in the real world.

Currently, only British Columbia requires and makes available to the public a comparison of attributes between its forest inventories and the same attributes measured in the forest. The difference between the forests' attributes in actuality and as described by interpreted remote-sense data is real and significant for some forests.

It is recommended that all forest inventories in Canada compare their derived attributes to the same attributes in the actual forest. The influence of variation and bias found through this comparison, and their impact on the allowable harvest, habitat supply and carbon budget, must be reconciled and made available to the public in a comprehensible manner.

Based on the information and format used in already published State of The Forest reports, we recommend the following: The large geographic extent of forests in each province often makes it difficult to determine local or even provincial impacts. Site district and site region summaries should be developed, and the authors of State of the Forest reports should highlight aspects of forest change of interest to the public good.

Since changes to forests are difficult to detect due to long reporting lag times, data quality and coarse resolution computer models, specific monitoring programs should be employed as an early warning system to detect important trends and enable corrective action to be taken in a timely fashion. Advances in remote-sensing technology, including the use of multi-spectral digital imagery, and light detection and ranging, LiDAR, must soon become a pervasive part of the tool kit in the technology to improve forest inventory creation and forest attribute derivation.

We have many smart people in our institute who talk like this. It is great.

Creating a desired future forest condition requires investment in planning, implementation, monitoring and research. The current State of the Forest reports lack an adequate analysis of investment levels in public forests. The adoption of indicators can be calculated from data already available and can be compared to those of competing forest nations and in other resource sectors.

Third, we would be remiss if we did not address, from the forest professional's perspective, the bio-energy sector, which is developing rapidly around the globe in response to a need to reduce the use of fossil fuels. As a forest nation, Canada has the potential to become one of the world's largest producers of forest biofuels and bio-energy. Billions of dollars have been spent in Canada to foster bio-energy in general, and tens of millions have been recently committed by governments to develop bio-energy networks to foster establishment of conversion plants. However, the less newsworthy task of ensuring sustainability of the forest resource while extracting more biomass has not received as much attention from government agencies and networks, even though this is needed to underpin a sustainable bio'energy sector.

It is therefore imperative that emerging forest bio-energy guidelines, regulations, policies and legislation covering increased removals of forest biomass be built on a solid knowledge of environmental sustainability, be relevant within the context of current and anticipated forest operations in different jurisdictions across Canada, and be consistent in principle with a global context.

Amongst other needs, this requires reviewing and synthesizing the national and international scientific literature; collating and then interpreting current and relevant scientific data from Canadian forest ecosystems; reviewing current and anticipated trends in forest harvesting methods that will affect distributions and removals of slash from sites; and reviewing current practices and policies in other jurisdictions with more mature forest bio-energy sectors so that key lessons learned can be applied in Canada.

Once completed, policy-makers in the different jurisdictions across Canada can tailor this range of knowledge to their own unique ecological and jurisdictional circumstances, which can vary between provinces. Rather than repeating these universal kinds of tasks within each province, overall savings can be achieved by coordinating efforts, creating synergies and sharing outputs amongst provinces.

I would ask you again to refer to our bio-energy media release from a little while back.

Finally, many of the challenges we face in the world are a result of scarcity of basic resources for human survival and health, clean water, fertile soil, fuel, and material for building. The solution to these problems can be resolved by working with the poor of the world to ensure they have access to secure supplies of these scarce resources. Canada has a wealth of expertise and experience in its forest professionals; people who know how to ensure soil, water and various life forms that live in forests are restored and maintained for the long term.

We recommend that Canada refocus its international aid to include projects that assist the poor to restore their forests. The institute's new Forests without Borders program is resolving to help in this altruistic effort. Many of our members are already engaged, of their own volition, in positive projects around the world, and many more are anxious to help with these initiatives and to undertake more work that helps to improve the human condition by improving the natural conditions. These efforts will be a uniquely Canadian solution. This is timely as there is little doubt that climate change will impact forest, food and water supplies with serious consequences for human health and safety worldwide. Canada's forest professionals are poised to contribute in a proactive way, and with a high degree of competency, to the challenges of climate change. On a national level, we can ensure advanced forest management programs are designed and implemented to deal with the range of challenges and issues climate change will bring. Also through our Forest without Borders program we will offer and bring our services to those around the world who need them the most.

In conclusion, on behalf of our members, I again thank the committee for this opportunity. The Canadian Institute of Forestry is a grassroots volunteer organization made up of passionate forest professionals and practitioners, and I hope I have represented them well here today. For us, forests are a treasure, and forestry is not just a job but a passion. We engage our members and the public in local communities on the long-term stewardship of our forests through many local events. In any year, over 70 local events occur across Canada. The institute continues to develop new ways to promote innovation in a constructive manner with all involved in the stewardship of our forests. Our most recent success has been the use of electronic lectures that enable our members and the interested public to listen to many forest specialists on a number of highly relevant topics such as climate change, woodland caribou and bio-energy.

Our publication, The Forestry Chronicle, a feature since 1925, continues to be the most widely read forestry journal in Canada. In general, our communication, charitable and educational activities are not based on convincing people to take certain positions; instead we try to present information in a factual and scientifically credible manner, leaving those we engage to develop their own conclusions. We offer these communication services to your committee as a possible means of obtaining additional input and information, and in catalyzing communications in multiple directions. Our upcoming annual general meeting this year, and in 2010, will focus on biofibre economy, climate change and the changing use and users of forests. These themes are highly relevant in a forest sector undergoing significant, rapid change and challenge.

We offer an invitation to the members of this committee to participate in these future annual general meetings.

The Chair: Mr. Pineau and Mr. Bombay, thank you very much for a job well done. We will be moving to questions.

Senator Mercer: First, thank you very much for two excellent presentations. I do not have many questions, but I did notice that you both mentioned research and the need for research.

Mr. Bombay, you particularly referred to the research that has come to a stop because of cancelling the funding for the chairs of excellence. Is that what I understood you to say?

Mr. Bombay: Yes.

Senator Mercer: At which institution was that chair located?

Mr. Bombay: The Sustainable Forest Management Network is housed at the University of Alberta. It was funded for 14 years as a centre of excellence for sustainable forest management research. That program, near its mid-term review, was criticized for not addressing Aboriginal forest issues as part of its program. The Networks of Centres of Excellence insisted that they introduce an Aboriginal forest research program within that centre of excellence.

They got into that activity over the last few years in depth, and so it is an area of forest research that has not been addressed anywhere since that centre of excellence has now come to an end and no new research has begun.

Senator Mercer: It seems to me that whether the research is done for one community or for the Aboriginal community, research is research, and it would be useful to all sectors.

What specific thing would you want the centre of excellence to be doing with respect to Aboriginal participation in forestry?

Mr. Bombay: Specific issues in the forest from an Aboriginal perspective must be researched, and that has not been done. These are issues such as traditional knowledge and how traditional knowledge might be used in a whole range of different natural resource management contexts and how it might be used in, say, commercialization.

Issues in the Aboriginal community also exist around governance. We have organizational structures within the Aboriginal community where forest management must be made congruent with the governance structures of Aboriginal communities and our traditional decision-making systems.

That area of activity has never been addressed in a concerted, researched manner, other than what the network began to do. We find that there is a need now to continue this activity, considering that the forest sector is undergoing this transformative change at the present time.

Because the network is ending, we are now looking for a new means to address our forest research needs. We think it important that Aboriginal people be more involved in doing the research, designing and directing the research, because research will help us meets the needs of our communities.

Senator Mercer: Mr. Pineau, I would like to hear more from you about the gaps you see in research? What do you think is the most important area of focus with respect to research from the perspective of your members?

Mr. Pineau: It is a diverse membership, and it is difficult to get a consensus on that. I would first concur with Mr. Bombay that there is a need for the social sciences aspect of forestry to have more prominence in research. Some good work was getting under way with the Sustainable Forest Management Network, and it would be a shame to see that end, and without coming to some further completion.

On the social sciences side of things, forest communities, Aboriginal communities, how we can better serve them or they can better benefit from using the resource sustainably is a key area.

Also, much of the time, sustainability is a word we throw around. What is really behind it? Sustainability means the social, cultural, spiritual, ecological, environmental and, of course, the economic aspects. All those areas are keys to true sustainability. The economic side of things has not been researched as well as it could have been.

In my presentation, I spoke to new technologies to better know what is on the land, what the forest is composed of and what its attributes are. Much good research has been done, but it needs to be applied more. Often, we have good information, ideas and technologists sitting on the shelf and have not applied them successfully. My members would agree that we could do a great deal if were to apply some of what we already have in terms of the research results and outputs.

Senator Eaton: Both presentations were interesting. I would like to continue with the line of questions by Senator Mercer. Mr. Bombay, instead of building a parallel system, could we not learn from each other and have Aboriginal forestry programs next to other forestry programs? You could likely teach us something. Why are we trying to reinvent the wheel? Why do we not make the wheel bigger?

Mr. Bombay: We would like that very much. Many federal programs have general application in the forest sector, and we have asked that there be a component focused on Aboriginal issues. As a matter of fact, the Canadian Forest Service focused at one time on social research and forestry, but that approach has been abandoned. They have gone more toward the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and to serving big industry. I would like to point out that our needs in the forest sector do not mirror those of large industry.

Senator Eaton: No.

Mr. Bombay: We operate in a totally different legal system, have different needs in terms of our development, and have different issues and perspectives on what is important in the forests. We also have collective ownership of land, which is different from the forest industry. We have governance issues, values and a different balance between timber and non-timber uses of the forest. Our approach to forestry is fundamentally different, and this demands a different research focus.

Senator Eaton: I understand. At the last meeting of the committee, we spoke to a gentleman who is the head of privately owned woodlots, which are usually small holdings. I do not understand why universities are not picking up on the idea of having an Aboriginal forestry program. It seems like such an obvious thing to do that would benefit many more people than just First Nations.

Mr. Bombay: Yes. We are looking for ways in which we can get the universities to do more research in these areas. When they apply for research funding, it is to a research program that has specific objectives. Those objectives seldom include addressing the needs of Aboriginal communities. When they apply for a research grant, they are limited by the parameters of the grant. We would like a program whereby they could apply to do research on Aboriginal issues. Then we could get more results. Through the work of the Sustainable Forest Management Network, there is a developing community of practice around Aboriginal forestry, which will end, sadly enough, if the network does not continue. We are asking that universities do more work in partnership with Aboriginal people.

Senator Eaton: I agree. The idea is not to create a parallel system but to build bridges and benefit from each other.

Mr. Bombay: Somewhere above that, we need a program that will focus on our issues. They can live only by the guidelines they are given, and if it does not include Aboriginal forestry issues, then they will not address them. That is the problem with large research institutes in Canada, such as FPInnovations, which serves big industry. Many of the provincial-based institutes are focused on industry on a large scale and not on the needs of communities.

Senator Eaton: Are there many Aboriginal forestry professionals?

Mr. Bombay: I am glad you asked that question because I did a count just the other day. About 10 years ago, we had 10 professional Aboriginal foresters in Canada, and today, we have 73.

Senator Eaton: That is fantastic.

Mr. Bombay: I know most of the 73 Aboriginal foresters by their first name. They all work in the Aboriginal forest sector. You will find few of these Aboriginal professionals working in large industry. Most of them work for their communities or for small companies that serve their communities. Many of them are consultants focused on Aboriginal forestry who consult with communities that do not have their own professionals.

A brand of Aboriginal professional foresters is developing in Canada, but it will take time. We have estimated that in Aboriginal communities and enterprises, we need 600 professional Aboriginal foresters to do the work in which we are currently involved.

Mr. Pineau: We need forest professionals everywhere. Despite the downturn in the sector, it is still a very good post'secondary career option for young people to consider. I am proud to say that there is a growing contingent of Aboriginal forest professionals in our ranks.

Senator Poulin: Mr. Bombay, could you describe Aboriginal forestry in practical terms so that we might understand and relate to it better? I am trying to understand the application of a forest professional and a forest practitioner.

Mr. Pineau: They are one and the same. I use the terms interchangeably. In the broad sense, a forest professional is a forester, forest technician, technologist, wildlife biologist, ecologist and forest researcher. It is a broad-based profession. The traditional forester is a big part of our membership. He or she knows silviculture and can plan and harvest to regenerate forests. The technician, who is on the ground much of the time, is the data collector, and the one who goes out to ensure that the machines are harvesting in the right areas and protecting the right areas from trespasses. The technician is a practitioner too. The terminology is interchangeable for me. I apologize for the confusion.

Senator Poulin: Mr. Bombay, could you refer us to an Aboriginal practitioner and professional?

Mr. Bombay: If I may, we have are other ways of looking at professional foresters. Some are conservation foresters and some focus on wood science, and some are urban foresters. Aboriginal forester is a new field based on an Aboriginal land ethic, which is different. Over the last 20 or so years, a shift has occurred from sustainable yield management to sustainable forest management, which has many different connotations in terms of how the professional forester reacts. Yield was all about timber management. Foresters today are more concerned with the management of the entire forest resource. From an Aboriginal point of view, we have different forest values about how we use the land, how we protect, what we do not protect, et cetera.

Aboriginal forestry is about practicing this land ethic that Aboriginal people have, the relationship with Mother Earth and the way in which we relate spiritually and culturally to the land.

Senator Poulin: Both of you are saying that we have are incredible opportunities here for more forest professionals and practitioners. We are hearing that the forest industry is in trouble. Can you tell me why that is not a contradiction?

Mr. Bombay: The forest industry is largely composed of older-school types with a sustainable yield approach to forestry. Jobs in the industry are decreasing in numbers from that perspective, but there are growth areas in the forest sector as well. The problem with the growth areas currently is that they do not necessarily provide jobs at the end of the line. It is more conceptual in how we have to develop. That is one aspect.

The other aspect is that we have an aging workforce in the forest sector. I cannot remember the exact numbers, but in certain parts of the country, half of the sector's workforce will be retiring in approximately the next 10 years. I think that this is a figure out of British Columbia. Therefore, they have to be replaced.

Mr. Pineau: Mr. Bombay hit it on the head. The model of the traditional use of the forest with the tenure system, with a mill, a town and a workforce, has suffered and is at least temporarily, or possibly permanently, in decline. We will see how it shakes out.

The need to manage forests well will always exist. Too many of us are on the planet for us to let everything go natural. That is simply not the case. We have too large a footprint and impact wherever we are living. If we are living in Toronto, we have a very large impact on the boreal forest. We need to have properly planned and well-managed forests in and around small, medium-sized and large communities. These are our green spaces. We need larger tracts of well'managed forests for whatever use we have for them in the future.

Personally, I think pulp and paper and lumber will be prominent to some degree, although not as much as it used to be. Bio-energy and recreational uses — tangibles and intangibles — that we get from forests will still require forest professionals. Therefore, the opportunities are there.


Senator Poulin: You know that the first goal of our study is to examine the causes and the origins of the current forestry crisis. As your two associations have the largest numbers of members, I would like to hear your analysis of the causes of the crisis in the forestry today, albeit a crisis that has been developing for a number of years. Perhaps Mr. Pineau could start, followed by Mr. Bombay.


Mr. Pineau: That is quite a complicated question. I am lucky in that I travel across the country and hear many different opinions, and they are very different on what has caused the crisis.

There is a strong consensus that this is the worst and longest downturn we have ever seen in the forest sector. There is no doubt about that. I am probably telling you something you already know.

When it started, people were giving a variety of reasons. They said that it was the result of the softwood lumber dispute not being resolved; high energy costs in some jurisdictions; we were basically not competitive enough and needed to regain our competitive edge; we have many old mills; and disincentives to innovate and reinvest; and maybe a lack of will to innovate and reinvest as well.

The forestry sector started its downturn probably a year or two before the current recession we are in now. When the recession hit, we were already on the ropes, and now it is rather tough. Demand is down and competition continues to be an issue.

Mr. Bombay mentioned FPInnovations and the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre. They are aligned to look at competitive advantage and getting the most value we can from Canada's fibre supply, the quality of the fibre, et cetera. Those particular research organizations are very good in that sense. If they can bring about innovation and new ideas, technologies and products using Canada's fibre to its best potential, those research organizations will play a pivotal role in helping us get out of this situation.

They are certainly a piece of the puzzle along with the Sustainable Forest Management Network and provincial organizations that do scientific research. The challenge is in taking it, getting out there and making it happen, putting it into the hands of the foresters and making something new, different, better, and competitive and add value.

I see light at the end of tunnel. Some people do not, but many people do. It has been a tough time. We lost many jobs in the forest sector before this recession even started. It has been quoted that 50,000 jobs have been lost. The demographics of that are all over the country. You do not see one big hit in one region. It is here, in Newfoundland and everywhere. It is hard to visualize. The optics or the realization that we have been suffering is not there.

Mr. Bombay: If you look back a few years, the forest industry in Canada was too focused on commodity production. It should have looked at signals about where the industry should have been going. We should have focused more on value-added products 20 years ago. Our forest tenure system should have directed the industry more in those areas. We should have diversified more years ago. The tenure systems that exist probably played a role in directing us toward commodity production only. That is one of the factors that we can probably address today through a review and significant modification of the way forestry resources are allocated through tenure systems.

Inclusion of other people and other industries — the smaller players in the forest tenure system — will go a long way to help diversify the economy of tomorrow.

Senator Duffy: I am always reminded that the wood industry is the largest in Canada, reaching into more corners of this great country of ours than any other. Therefore, what happens to your industry is critically important to all of us as Canadians.

Mr. Bombay, I read your remarks with interest. I was pleased to see that you made reference to Budget 2009 where there is $170 million of additional money for forest research. At the end of the day, this committee will probably be encouraging the government to widen that focus to ensure your concerns are covered. Assuming we get into this expanded area of research and eventually come out of this recession, fundamental economic laws come into play.

On page 4 of your presentation, you point out that ``the Aboriginal owned and managed forest land being acquired is in northern areas of the country — north of the commercial forest — and the distance to markets make traditional forest industry approaches less viable."

We have heard in our hearings so far, and it is only early days, that already there are people with timber — I think Senator Mercer may have some in Nova Scotia — that are at the end or the edge of what they consider to be the viable trucking distance to move that product out of the forest and into the market. How do you see the federal government or industry devising a way to take these areas that are now coming into the possession of our First Nations and find a way to utilize those resources in a way that would be economically beneficial, given the vast distances to which you refer?

Mr. Bombay: One thing is certain about wood from the northern forests; we should not be using it for pulp and paper, and probably not for lumber. Those are the traditional forest industries I was talking about, those types of commodity approaches to production.

In the northern areas where First Nations are gaining access to wood supply, we need more innovative approaches for how they can use that wood. That is why I call for this Aboriginal centre for research and development. Wood in the northern communities has special attributes to it in terms of its strength and how it can be used in value-added processing.

Senator Duffy: The colder the climate, the stronger and straighter the wood.

Mr. Bombay: Yes. Therefore, how that wood is used can have certain benefits. Aboriginal peoples are in a good position, with the right support, to develop unique products using that type of wood.

Senator Duffy: You are really suggesting a radical overhaul of the way we think of the forests and how they are used, is that right? You are not talking about incremental change; you are talking about dramatic change.

Mr. Bombay: Yes. Right now, the government is throwing a large amount of money at the industry; this $170 million, for example, that we mentioned is going toward traditional forest industries. Very little is going to the non'traditional forest industries, if such a thing exists, but that is where we want to go.

Innovation usually occurs from people who look at things differently. Aboriginal people look at the forest sector very differently. We have never had the opportunity to do our own research and development and innovate in this sector. That is something we are seeking: support to do some innovation on our own through a research and development centre, using our traditional knowledge and the attributes of the wood that we have available to us.

Senator Duffy: We have a Minister of State for Science and Technology, we have NRCan and we have INAC. Are they talking to each other about these matters?

Mr. Bombay: I do not think so. Everyone has this preconceived notion about how things should unfold in terms of the forest sector. Many people look at Aboriginal peoples as being a source of labour and as contractors to supply wood. For much of the land, we have received in land claims; that is how that land is being viewed as well, that we will provide and cut wood for the established industries.

We do not have the institutional support to do anything more than that. That is what has to occur. We need to have institutional change that will enable innovation, enable certain ways of evaluating our interests in the forests. Then we can look at new types of products and services. It is a good time to do that.

Senator Duffy: Who is the lead?

Mr. Bombay: They have to get together on this. I have written letters on this subject to ministers. I even have a letter here that I can give you that I wrote to the Minister of NRCan and others.

Senator Eaton: We are the lead, senators and this committee.

Mr. Bombay: They have to get together and think about how Aboriginal peoples can be given some lead role in this type of development. It needs the support of NRCan and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. We are asking Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to come up with a forest sector strategy for Aboriginal peoples, based on their constitutional responsibilities.

Senator Eaton: Mr. Bombay, is what you want to do not a natural for Minister Raitt?

Mr. Bombay: I have been trying to get a meeting with her but have not been able to. That was the letter that fell between the chairs here. I think that is where it fell in her office as well.

Mr. Pineau: I have to interject here. One of the issues is that, basically, natural resources are controlled and managed by the provinces. It must be frustrating to have to deal with so many different governments. Their policies and regulations are all set in essence by those individual jurisdictions and territories across the country.

Mr. Bombay: The federal government can play a role in leading the provincial governments in certain ways because of its constitutional responsibility for Indians and lands reserved for Indians. The federal government has not acted on that responsibility with respect to the forest sector.

Senator Eaton: Also the universities, et cetera.

Mr. Bombay: Yes.

Senator Cordy: This is a great lead-in to my question, which is cooperation and coordination of activities. We heard last week that the provincial regulations are very outdated, so that would be challenging.

What is the challenge you have in working with the provinces and the federal government? You talked earlier about lack of coordination between federal government departments. However, what is the coordination between the federal government and the provincial-territorial governments, and the federal government and the Aboriginal peoples in the forestry sector?

We made a comment earlier that the feds should be leading the way, but you have to do that in conjunction with the provinces. Is there any cooperation? Are any meetings taking place between the federal government and the provincial'territorial governments?

Mr. Bombay, you talked about having an Aboriginal component with a dedicated budget. Are these things happening? In the recent budget, for example — the money for forestry, for promotion of Canadian products on the offshore and in non-traditional markets within Canada — are the Aboriginal forestry people able to access any of that money?

Mr. Bombay: They are probably able to access it as it flows through the system, but then they are in competition with other people. The program needs to have a specific Aboriginal component to it when it is designed. For this $170 million that has been identified in the last budget, we feel that a percentage of that should go to Aboriginal forestry.

It can follow the same distribution channels, but it should be targeted for Aboriginal communities, considering our different needs that we have spoken about here today. That is not occurring at all. When it was announced in the federal budget, no reference was made to Aboriginal peoples at all.

This letter that is lying on the floor here is about that exactly. We have written to the Minister of Natural Resources Canada saying that we have a need. It is somewhat similar to what is needed in the broader forest sector, but with some unique differences. Therefore, we feel some of that should be going to Aboriginal communities. Our objective is to try to get some of that flowing as part of an economic stimulus for Aboriginal communities.

Senator Cordy: What about the jurisdictional aspects? We have provincial regulations, but we have the federal government involved also.

Mr. Bombay: The federal government has its role in the forest sector, and provinces have their role as well. Lately, my observation has been that the role of the federal government is increasing — not its total number of responsibilities in the forest sector, which is not increasing in number, but its prominence in the sector. For such issues as globalization and world trade, the federal government has the lead. These areas are having more of an impact on the forest sector in Canada. As well, with respect to Aboriginal peoples, our issues are gaining more prominence.

Everywhere that the federal government has a role in the forest sector, that role seems to be expanding. Overall, the federal government has a duty to step up to the plate and say that they will play a bigger role in coordinating national issues of importance to the forest sector in Canada.

Mr. Pineau: The vehicle is already set up for that: the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, CCFM. There is real potential to grow that mandate and use that body to better achieve these things.

Mr. Bombay: I disagree there, sorry.

Mr. Pineau: I think there is potential.

Mr. Bombay: The CCFM is controlled by the provincial ministers. The federal minister does not play as prominent a role in the CCFM as he should and could. That is where it should be emphasized, but I do not see that happening at this time.

Another minister who has a significant role in the forest sector and who is not recognized is the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, who is responsible for the management of Indian reserve land. He has a say in all the lands acquired by First Nations in terms of land claim settlements and treaties; he has a direct responsibility in the North and with inter-jurisdictional Aboriginal issues around the forest sector as well.

The Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs should be a member of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers because of that federal responsibility for Aboriginal peoples and those other Indian affairs matters that should be reflected in the makeup of the CCFM. I think that should occur.

Senator Cordy: Do the Aboriginal peoples have a seat at all on this organization?

Mr. Bombay: No, we do not. We have no representation there whatsoever. If the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs sat on the CCFM, we would have a more direct route, I suppose.

We feel that we should somehow be represented in the CCFM, either as part of an advisory group or as a full voting member of the CCFM.

Senator Cordy: I would like to switch now to the issue of climate change. We heard last week from one of our witnesses that when you are working in the forest industry, you notice things more quickly, and you had better react fast because it affects your whole industry if you do not. I would like to know how it is affecting Canada's forest industry and what we should be doing.

Mr. Pineau, in your opening remarks you talked about what we should be doing particularly in the downturn, how we could create jobs and at the same time make our forests more sustainable and renewable.

Mr. Pineau: We basically support the idea of assisted regeneration with some public money. We could see many communities helped in that way, including Aboriginal communities. Basically, on lands that have been depleted either naturally or through harvest, where there is not much money to do silviculture, maybe we can inject money into that sort of program and make good things happen for the forests, while at the same time stimulating the economies in some of these suffering northern communities.

Do you want me to talk about climate change?

Senator Cordy: Yes, please.

Mr. Pineau: Some of us in the forest sector, in positions on the ground, are starting to see some interesting things. Some growing seasons, for instance, have been dramatically extended. Up around Timmins, and Senator Mahovlich was talking about coming from there, I have never seen the leaders on trees as big as in some of the last few seasons. They have grown incredibly fast.

Senator Mahovlich: Normally, it is so cold they get nipped off the top, and they do not grow anymore.

Mr. Pineau: Yes. You see that commonly. The forestry folk that I talk to say that we have to be ready for this sort of thing. Spring is coming earlier, and fall is continuing a little longer.

The mountain pine beetle is directly related to climate change. We are not getting the cold winters that killed the larvae. As a result, we have an infestation of mountain pine beetles that is catastrophic. I toured there a few months back. You have to see it to believe it.

We can try hard to plan, organize and be prepared with adjusted forest management approaches, and to the best of our ability, we can address some of these changes. However, it is sounding now — and I hate to be an alarmist — as if the worst case scenarios in climate change are being surpassed, from what we hear from the scientists. We have to be ready. It is here now. It is starting to happen with the changes in the seasons.

Some of this is anecdotal, but eight or ten of our members are climate change experts, top-notch people from across the country. They are telling us to adjust some of our silviculture and some of our forest management practices to deal with that.

Senator Cordy: Are we ready and reacting the way we should be from a federal government perspective?

Mr. Pineau: We are not yet, no. We can, however. The onus is on forest professionals and practitioners to help and to provide solid, tangible ideas of what we can do.

Mr. Bombay: On climate change, we will see many changes in forest policy around carbon sequestration and the role forests play in that. Some of the international discussions taking place include cap-and-trade systems and international programs, such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries, or REDD. Another part of the REDD initiative is where carbon sequestration is used as a tool to promote sustainable forest management. The process involves the trading of carbon credits. We see that now becoming an issue. That is one of the many ecological goods and services that the forest will provide.

Some of the issues that favour Aboriginal peoples include how we play a role in carbon sequestration, but there are issues around such things as who owns the forest and who receives the credits. A whole range of activity is about to occur for which we do not have appropriate forest policy at the present time. We must be a focus on that. I am sure you will hear about this as you go through your hearings from climate change specialists and people involved with carbon sequestration projects in Canada.

The Chair: With regard to pine beetles, I believe the deputy chair has a comment or a question.

Senator Fairbairn: I was getting all fired up to bring that question into the discussion, and then you did it yourself. I am from Lethbridge in Southern Alberta, and we are now looking forward to getting these beetles through the Crowsnest Pass from British Columbia.

It is a sad situation that we have very little that we can do. In the case of native people in British Columbia and parts of Alberta who undoubtedly have an interest in the forest world, to what degree has this hit into their regions and areas, or are the Aboriginal peoples far enough away from where the pine beetle has been doing damage?

Mr. Bombay: Aboriginal peoples live in the forests, and they are always the first impacted by any change in forest conditions. This is particularly true with the mountain pine beetle right now. Our communities are probably the most endangered of all communities by the possibility of catastrophic fire caused by dead pine trees as a result of the mountain pine beetle. Our communities are at risk. This summer I fear some catastrophe occurring.

Senator Fairbairn: In what area would that be?

Mr. Bombay: That would be anywhere in the interior; Southern B.C. up to the northern interior of B.C., including parts of Alberta.

Our communities are small and very much within the forest environment. A fire, with all these dead trees out there, could easily spread and wipe out entire communities. First Nations do have a mountain pine beetle action plan, which was funded in part through Natural Resources Canada and through some of the monies that came through the federal government. However, it was filtered through provincial mechanisms, and so the money for Aboriginal peoples to do research and take precautionary measures in how they approach the forests in their areas has not really filtered down to the organizations in the Aboriginal communities that could do something about the risk of fire.

We need to look at that issue. The mountain pine beetle expenditures by the federal and provincial governments is one example — when I speak of programs of general application — of how the needs of Aboriginal peoples can be identified and how specific funds can be used by Aboriginal organizations to address those threats. That is what is needed. We need to have our own mechanisms to protect our communities, in the case of possible fire as a result of the mountain pine beetle.

Senator Fairbairn: Absolutely. I am close to where this is happening. There is a sense, for instance, in the Crowsnest Pass that it is only a matter of time. People are starting to come out to that area, coming from New Brunswick, from all many other parts of Canada; it is encouraging. They have been invited to bring whatever knowledge of different matters they have to help in those mountain areas where they, unfortunately, are waiting, not knowing — not quite so much in the South as in the North.

I am interested in what you have said about the need for the Aboriginal communities that are in the shadow of that area. The door must be open to them to — and it is true with everyone in the area — understand what is possible and what is expected. I would hope every effort is being made to include our Native people because they, too, often have — and I know it well — instincts that a great number of other people do not have when it comes to a crisis on the ground and in the atmosphere. I would hope there would be a great deal of encouragement in bringing people in to give their views because they would be different than those on the outside.

Mr. Bombay: This is one of the reasons we have made the recommendation I provided earlier about programs of general application. It is important to identify budgetary amounts, but the mechanism in which that program is delivered is most important. The Aboriginal organizations must be engaged in that. We do not find that these programs actually get into the hands of the right people sometimes. We think it should be the Aboriginal organizations delivering the programs to protect our communities.

Senator Fairbairn: Thank you very much. What you have said is important, and I hope it will move in that direction. People do not give up. There are some methods that may be used if the people that have the instincts are able to use them.


Senator Rivard: Given the current state of the industry, how do you see it in 10 years? How would you like to see it in 10 years?


Mr. Pineau: Certainly a more diverse sector, one that — as Mr. Bombay indicated earlier — is not so reliant on commodity. Rather, we look at the quality of Canadian wood fibre. We would have much more value added. We would have systems and policy and process in place that encourage innovation. If we can find a new or better use for wood, we can be nimble and react to that quickly, and we already have, within the next 10 years.

The bio-energy side of things will have picked up, wood pellets or bio-ethanol or biodiesel. You will see potentially more competition for the sustainable resource that is there in terms of the forest. Paper, pulp and lumber will still have a niche. We will still produce some of that, though I am not sure how much. There will be more diversity in our sector, more encouragement for that innovation, and we will have already experienced some benefit there.

I am optimistic about the future. Canadians have shown themselves to be resilient. We are a very innovative nation and strong scientifically, and good research is happening. I hope we see stronger small communities in the North again. It would be a shame if our northern and Aboriginal communities continue to suffer economically or could not benefit from the new age of forestry and forests as we move forward. That is what I would like to see.

Mr. Bombay: I agree with what Mr. Pineau has said. That is my vision too. The question is how we get there. We must have more innovation in terms of how we deal with resource allocation in this country, the forest tenure systems. Just last week, both Mr. Pineau and I were at the same meeting in Sudbury where the Minister of Natural Resources for Ontario, Donna Cansfield, announced that Ontario would review its forest tenure system in the province, a comprehensive review involving all the major players in the forest sector in Ontario.

The forest tenure systems must change. That is one of the primary mechanisms. I hope that, from the point of view of Aboriginal peoples, our issues are addressed in these types of reviews and that they result in changed forest management systems that reflect our goals, needs and aspirations in the forest sector.

That is what I would like to see, a more inclusive forest sector, one that respects the differences between people, and our different development needs. I would like to see an integrated Aboriginal forest economy develop over the next 10 years.


Senator Rivard: Turning to hardwood, are you concerned about the future given the increasing competition from developing countries and from more exotic products, like bamboo, for example?


Mr. Pineau: No. I think we can rise to the challenge of any competition. Certainly, the wood that comes out of more southerly climes will produce more economically because the rotations are quicker given that the trees grow faster. We have to identify the characteristics in Canadian wood fibre. We talked about the more northerly trees being stronger, for example. We have to come to grips with the value in our wood fibre and develop our products and markets appropriately.

Competition makes us stronger. It forces us to be innovative and to rethink what we are doing, even with commodity and how we produce. Certainly, we can rise to the competition challenge. At times, we will be beaten, but at other times, we will win. We should not be afraid of that.

We are a little weak and could improve in the area of the process around forest management. Much of the time it is more about process and everything between the goals and objectives. We could be more competitive in the area of forest management process and not have a system that is basically about paper. At the end of the day, the goals and objectives are about how we want the forest to look and how we want it to exist. We can be very competitive in that way and promote innovation in forest management while not having a paralysis of process in our jurisdictional policies, regulations and guidelines.

That is a bit cumbersome for us, and, therefore, makes us less competitive. I am not saying that we should throw out the rule books or the regulations, but we can do it better and make it more efficient by allowing the art and science to work together. That will make us innovative and competitive.

Mr. Bombay: The commodity industry in Canada in the lumber and pulp and paper aspects of the forest industry will diminish relative to other elements of the forest sector in the future. The competition will be able to outdo us in price for a good length of time. I am not sure at what point this levelling of pricing will happen, but we face some distinct disadvantages in the world markets when it comes to commodities. That argues for an approach to more value'added and other types of products in the forest sector. That is my only comment on that.

Canada can do a great deal for its international image by engaging more of the sector and staying focused on sustainable forest management. That will help our overall efforts to market forest products in Canada. We should focus on that. In our approach to sustainable forest management, we need to ensure that we are inclusive. The way in which we address Aboriginal issues can be part and parcel of the image of the forest industry in Canada.

Senator Mahovlich: When I think of forests, I always think of birds because they are affiliated. What effect will the catastrophe in Northern B.C. with the mountain pine beetle have on our bird population in that area?

Mr. Pineau: I happen to have a copy of the latest issue of The Forestry Chronicle, the publication I referred to earlier, that is all about birds. I am a volunteer in the Christmas bird count. Many of our members are very much into that.

Senator Mahovlich: Is there an organization similar to Ducks Unlimited, for example, with which you can work?

Mr. Pineau: Yes. We partner with many organizations. Bird Studies Canada is quite big and Ducks Unlimited is well known. We have taken data, and some good papers were written and peer-reviewed. Some of the best bird researchers in Canada were involved in this particular issue. We found that many forest-dwelling birds are doing fine or actually increasing, while many birds in more grassy, open areas and shorebirds tend to be decreasing in numbers, generally. This is based on about 20 years of monitoring and census-taking. These populations fluctuate constantly. We want to understand what is happening where we find that birds are declining in forests.

To be honest, I do not know what direct effect the mountain pine beetle will have on the birds in those areas. The trees are definitely dying and being cut so, potentially, there could be an increase in the open grassland-type birds. That is only an educated guess.

Senator Mahovlich: I am surprised that the woodpecker is not attracted to the larvae of the pine beetle. In Northern Ontario, I have seen woodpeckers strip an entire tree to get the larvae of beetles.

Mr. Pineau: That would be the pileated woodpecker, and the three-toed woodpecker will eat the larvae as well. Everything is related in the forest. Everyone says that forestry is not rocket science; it is way more complicated. It is a natural system, and nothing that we humans could dream of would be as complicated as a natural system because it is all interrelated.

Senator Mahovlich: Is this the first experience we have had with the mountain pine beetle?

Mr. Pineau: It is the first on such a scale.

Senator Mahovlich: The Aboriginal peoples would know about it.

Mr. Bombay: The pine beetle is indigenous to this forest. The problem is that global warming has not allowed winter temperatures to be sufficiently cold to kill them off.

Senator Mahovlich: The beetle came from Europe.

Mr. Pineau: It is indigenous to the pine forests of British Columbia. We need to have two to three weeks of minus 20 Celsius or colder to kill the larvae.

Senator Fairbairn: That is right, and we are not getting such temperatures.

Mr. Bombay: It must have an affect on the birds.

Mr. Pineau: Yes, definitely it has an affect.

Mr. Bombay: A researcher at the University of Alberta, Fiona Schmiegelow, recently did a study on birds. I would not be surprised if the mountain pine beetle was one of the factors she considered in her work.

Mr. Pineau: I would have to take a look myself.

The Chair: Mr. Pineau, could you provide to the committee the study you have on birds and the impact?

Mr. Pineau: Yes. I can leave these with you.

The Chair: You have raised a few issues. I will begin with Mr. Bombay.

On page 7 of your brief, you said that you would like to re-emphasize that there is more than one industry and numerous other players with an economic stake.

Would you comment and give us more details, Mr. Bombay, on that assertion?

Mr. Bombay: As I mentioned, we have the large forest industry in Canada that produces primarily commodities. We also have the value-added industry, secondary manufacturing, non-timber forest products, and emerging bio-forest products of various types. We also expect quite a bit of economic activity around ecological goods and services and the creation of markets for those services over time.

In broad terms, those are some of the other industries involved. It is not only the large forest industry. The point I make is that all the research and development and support from government is for the large industries without a similar level of support for the other industries. It is in some of those other industries where Aboriginal peoples have the greatest opportunity for development.

It is not only Aboriginal peoples involved in those other sectors but also many other players are involved. In Canada, we have many people organized around community forests. Non-Aboriginal communities have much to say about the resource and how forest resources are developed. Not enough support goes into these other areas. The Aboriginal community is one that should particularly get federal support because of the constitutional responsibility of the federal government for Aboriginal peoples.

The Chair: I also notice on page 2 of your document, Mr. Bombay, that First Nations hold an equity position in about 50 small wood-processing establishments. It is a small fraction of the 3,550 across the country. It is indicated that these figures are not current.

Mr. Bombay: I think I took these figures from the 2005-06 State of the Forest report put out by Natural Resources Canada. The wood-processing establishments are various types of mills. We own equity in about 50 of these small mills. For example, where I come from in Northwestern Ontario, and in our community, Manitou Forest Products produces value-added products. We produce interior and exterior pine siding and various types of mouldings in this small mill. We are quite successful. Unlike the large AbitibiBowater, we made money last year.

We have small mills, and we also have mills that produce commodities. We had a lumber mill in Saskatchewan and a forest products company in Quebec — Aboriginal-owned companies that had to close because of the industry downturn. Those are only some of the examples; there are many more.

Aboriginal communities often hold equity in wood processing through joint ventures with non-Aboriginal entities, which has been good. One of the problems we have in the sector is raising capital for investment in these types of mills. Often we take the joint-venture route.

The Chair: Mr. Pineau, I would like to have your comments. Your media release includes the percentage of harvest area treated and receiving assisted regeneration in Canada, excluding the territories. Could you walk us through this?

Under Quebec, for example, it indicates 20 per cent in 1982-83 and 67 per cent in 2005-06. All provinces and even the territories plant trees and have forest management and silviculture.

Mr. Pineau: Yes.

The Chair: Would you comment on that for the benefit of senators so that we have appropriate information on the figures provided?

Mr. Pineau: To put the figures in context, when you harvest an area in the forest, it will come back in some way. If you leave it for natural regeneration, sometimes that is good enough and that does the job. In some cases, that is the prescription — basically leave it and let it come back. It is not as though you paved over it and nothing will grow. Therefore, that is a reasonable approach in some instances. In other instances, we want to bring the forest back in a certain way and bring it back in a timelier manner so that it is viable in the long term for the company or the organization using the forest.

We have is a mix of different types of silviculture. In Ontario, they use the terms natural, extensive, basic, intense and elite. Those are the levels of silviculture generally practiced. Starting with natural, we harvest the trees and we do not need to regenerate the forest in any assisted way because it will come back as we want it. At the opposite end of the scale, we are basically fibre farming for lack of a better term. We want to control the site preparation before we plant, then tend, thin and ensure the forest comes back the way we want it. All those levels exist in between.

Those statistics you see basically tell us that a percentage of those areas receive some sort of human help in regenerating. The percentage indicated not receiving any silviculture was left for natural regeneration.

As forest professionals, we are saying that we could do more to ensure some of those areas come back the way we would like them. It may be more timely and in a better condition for different potential uses of the forest, whether ecological or economic.

The Chair: Should we be encouraging more plantation or natural regeneration?

Mr. Pineau: We should be regenerating. I, and many of our members, feel we can do more to help regeneration that would be a benefit to all of us.

We want different types of forest on the land. We do not want all the same. We can proactively put different types of forests to encourage biodiversity and to have different age structures, classes and patterns. We can do more in those areas in some jurisdictions.

The Chair: For example, New Brunswick started their plantation. The leader in North America is the Irving family. I would appreciate more information on natural regeneration versus plantation and silviculture of hardwood and softwood stands being mindful that we would also have an impact in Aboriginal areas of Canada.

We are all mindful of sustainable forest management; that the industry of tomorrow will change because of market pressures; and that we must consider environmental implications. Have you any comments on environmental forest certification?

Mr. Pineau: It is good to have a third party look at what is happening. It is not only the industry or the company that is evaluated; it is also government regulation and process that is evaluated. In some cases, independent certification is even more rigorous than government regulation in some respects.

It should not necessarily be something that says that everything is perfect and fine. We always have to question the certification processes and ensure they have rigorous standards in how they certify.

However, certification is generally positive. It is not perfect; but the fact that more and more forests and their operations are being certified and people are demanding certified products and the knowledge, or at least the good feeling they get from purchasing something from a certified sustainable forest, is all moving in the right direction.

Different certification bodies exist. I am somewhat familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. However, in general, it is a good thing.

The Chair: Am I right in saying that in some areas of our great country, natural regeneration is an option, and in other areas, we have to look at silviculture, commercial thinning and plantations?

Mr. Pineau: I think it is a spectrum. It depends on the forest condition, what type of soils you have. It is very complicated. Basically, that is it.

It goes back to the tenure discussion with Mr. Bombay. There is a definite need to reform tenure along these lines. I heard the term ``zoning" in planning for forest management and silviculture, where smaller areas are perhaps harvested or operated. Basically, the number one goal is fibre production — maybe it is 10 per cent or 20 per cent of a productive forest land base — and then other parts of the forest are zoned for less invasive silviculture practices. It is a spectrum of approaches.

Mr. Bombay: I would like to comment on your question about certification. The main reason we have certification systems for sustainable forest management in Canada and throughout the world is because governments have not put in place policies to support what people believe to be sustainable forest management.

Had governments appropriately addressed the topic of sustainable forest management — the social, ecological and economic aspects of forestry — then probably certification would not have been necessary. It is the shortcomings of government policy that certification was intended to address. It was pushed mainly by environmental groups throughout the world.

In Canada, we have three certification systems: the Canadian Standards Association, CSA; Sustainable Forestry Initiative, SFI, the American system; and the Forest Stewardship Council, FSC, the international body based out of Germany, which has an FSC Canada office.

Certification systems are not created equal. Vast differences exist between these three certification systems that have been implemented in Canada. They are different in a sense of those three areas — social, ecological and economic — so they treat issues differently.

As the National Aboriginal Forestry Association, we support the FSC because it is the only system that addresses the rights of indigenous peoples as part of its principles and criteria. We find the other two certification systems, CSA and SFI, do not really raise the bar on indigenous peoples' issues. As a matter of fact, they simply adopt provincial standards around Aboriginal participation in the sector.

We feel the social aspects under two of those systems fall far short of what we see as necessary in sustainable forest management. Therefore, we support FSC. We would like to work with the other forest certification systems to upgrade their standards on this issue. We would hope that they would do it. Failing that, we would prefer to see FSC-certified products more pervasive in the international forest products market.

The Chair: On behalf of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, Mr. Pineau and Mr. Bombay, thank you both for your presentations and your answers. There is no doubt in our minds that it has been enlightening and informative. The committee thanks you.

I will be asking senators to go in camera so that we can finalize another urgent item.

Mr. Bombay: I did not introduce two documents that I have left with the committee. The first document, The Strategic Federal Support for the Aboriginal Forest Sector, was developed for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada when they asked for input on the development of the new Aboriginal economic development framework that they are developing. This is our input into that and is also reflects the recommendations given today, with further elaboration in this particular document.

The other document, called Aboriginal Centre for Research and Development Focussed on Commercialization of Forest Products and Services, deals with commercialization from the Aboriginal point of view. It is one of the elements, as well, contained in the summary presentation that I gave you. It is further elaborated on and rationalized in this document.

The Chair: Thank you again, Mr. Bombay and Mr. Pineau, for appearing here today.

(The committee continued in camera.)


(The committee continued in public.)

The Chair: We are now in public.

Will an honourable senator propose the adoption of the legislation budget in the amount of $3,850?

Senator Fairbairn: I so propose.

The Chair: Therefore, it is carried. Is there a motion to adopt the budget for the agriculture study in the amount of $16,210?

Senator Poulin: I so move.

The Chair: It is carried.

Senator Cordy: Should we vote on it?

Senator Housakos: The chair says it is carried.

The Chair: I have been instructed by our clerk that we do not need to ask for a vote.

Josée Thérien, Clerk of the Committee: That is not what I meant.

The Chair: Please provide clarification for us.

Ms. Thérien: You just need to ask if they agree to the motion.

The Chair: I will take my responsibilities, but please help me. Do we agree to carry budget item number 1?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: It is carried. Do we agree on budget item number 2?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Is there a motion to adopt the proposed budget for the forestry study in the amount of $17,460?

Senator Mahovlich: So moved.

The Chair: Do members agree?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: It is carried.

Senator Cordy: The first way was faster.

The Chair: Democracy.

Thank you very much, honourable senators. Our next meeting will be Tuesday of next week.

(The committee adjourned.)

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