Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry
Issue 10 - Evidence - November 4, 2010
OTTAWA, Thursday, November 4, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at
8:05 a.m. to study the current state and future of Canada's forest sector.
Senator Percy Mockler (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators and witnesses, good morning. I see that
we have a quorum and I declare the meeting in session.
Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and
Witnesses, we welcome you this morning to the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry. My name is Percy Mockler. I am a senator from New
Brunswick and the chair of the committee.
Today, honourable senators, we welcome witnesses from different
organizations. From the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada, we have Maia
Becker, Vice-President, and from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Peter
From the Quebec Wood Export Bureau, Mr. Jacques Gauvin, Director,
Traceability Program for Wood Products.
The committee is continuing its study on the current state of the future of
Canada's forestry. We are particularly looking at eco-certification and
Before I ask the witnesses to make their presentations, I would like to ask
honourable senators to introduce themselves.
Senator Mercer: I am Senator Terry Mercer, from Nova Scotia.
Senator Robichaud: Good morning. I am Senator Fernand Robichaud, from
Senator Fairbairn: Joyce Fairbairn, from Lethbridge, Alberta.
Senator Mahovlich: Frank Mahovlich, from Toronto, Ontario.
Senator Plett: Don Plett, from the centre of Canada, Manitoba.
Senator Ogilvie: Kelvin Ogilvie, from Nova Scotia.
Senator Meighen: Michael Meighen, from Ontario.
The Chair: Witnesses, again, on behalf of the Standing Senate
Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, we thank you for accepting our invitation
to share your knowledge with the committee so we will be in a position to make
recommendations to government in order to be partners to find solutions, and
recommend solutions, to the forestry challenges and crisis that we have.
That said, I am informed by the clerk that we will start the presentation
with Ms. Becker, to be followed by Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gauvin.
Ms. Becker, after presentations are made, we will be asking questions to our
Maia Becker, Vice-President, Forest Stewardship Council of Canada:
First, I would like to apologize for the slides not being in both English and
French, but thank you very much for inviting the Forest Stewardship Council,
FSC, of Canada to appear before you today.
I would like to discuss how FSC and forest certification presents an
opportunity for our forests, our communities, Aboriginal peoples and the forest
industry. FSC is an international certification and labelling system for forests
and forest products that was founded in Canada in 1993 by forest managers,
producers, conservation groups and labour, indigenous and social interests. FSC
provides a guarantee for consumers or buyers of products that the wood and paper
products they are purchasing come from healthy forests and strong communities.
As interest and understanding of the value of our forests has grown, so has
the demand for FSC-certified products. Today, FSC is the fastest growing forest
certification system in the world, with 135 million hectares of forests
certified, 18,000 manufacturers and a global market with more than US$5 billion.
Like many other certification systems, forest certification is a market-based
mechanism, which means that consumer demand for certified products drives the
incentive for companies and forests to become FSC-certified. Under FSC
certification, forests are independently evaluated against a strict set of
environmental and social standards, and fibre from those forests is tracked all
the way to the consumer through the chain of custody certification process. This
means that, for a product such as paper to carry the FSC label, not only must
the forest be FSC-certified, but the pulp mill, the paper mill, the paper
merchant and the printer must all be certified as well for an envelope, book or
any product to then carry that FSC label on it.
The purpose of FSC certification is for forests to be managed in an
environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable manner.
Since its founding 17 years ago in Canada, we now have 39 million hectares of
FSC- certified forest. That represents approximately 25 per cent of our
harvested or managed forest lands in Canada.
We have an additional 7.6 million hectares that are currently in the process
of becoming certified. This means that Canada is the world leader when it comes
to FSC certification; 30 per cent of the world's FSC-certified forests are in
FSC certification is only able to benefit our forest communities and
businesses if consumers in the marketplace have the ability to identify
FSC-certified products, and then are able to preferentially purchase them. This
is why that supply chain tracking and labelling system is so important.
In the last five years, there has been an 800 per cent increase in the number
of FSC-certified manufacturers and producers here in Canada. The largest growth
has been in the pulp and paper and printing sector, with the wood products
sector showing a very strong and steady growth as well.
The growth in FSC certification that has taken place over the last five years
has taken place despite the challenges facing the forest industry — in many
cases, in fact, because of these challenges as companies look to add value,
diversify products, earn the loyalty of customers and access new markets that
are developing. This growth in demand for FSC products is a result of large
international, national and local companies not only purchasing FSC products,
many of which come from Canada, but also putting in place purchasing policies
and specifying FSC products in those.
On the slide are some examples of companies that purchase and support FSC by
buying FSC products. Some examples would be that, in 2008, Rona, the
Quebec-based, do-it-yourself store, put in place a wood purchasing policy in
which they stated a preference for wood products certified to FSC standards.
Since then they have had 13 of their locations across Canada FSC-certified to
meet the needs of their customers.
As an example, Scotiabank in 2008 put in place a paper policy requiring that
50 per cent of their paper be FSC- certified and/or -recycled.
In 2009, Indigo and Chapters, the largest book retailer in Canada, put in
place a paper policy giving preference to FSC and now communicate in their
stores to their customers which of their books and products are FSC-certified.
The demand for Canadian FSC-certified products is being driven not only by
these companies but also by government procurement policies and purchasing
decisions. The federal government, provincial governments and agencies purchase
FSC products. For example, in 2008, the Province of Ontario put in place a paper
purchasing policy through which they required that 30 per cent of the paper
purchased by Ontario ministries be FSC-certified, and they required that all
printers supplying the Ontario government be FSC-certified by 2012.
As another example, in April 2010, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, as
part of their renewable electricity plan, put in place a requirement that forest
biomass vendors be FSC-certified as well.
I will get to the opportunities that FSC and forest certification present to
the forest industry but, first, it is important to put into context why
companies, organizations and individuals are choosing certified products and
Canadian FSC- certified products.
To begin, FSC is a credible, internationally recognized product label.
FSC-certified forests protect waterways and wildlife habitat. They serve
biodiversity, minimize the impact of harvesting and respect the rights of
indigenous peoples and workers. FSC also has a strict tracking and labelling
system for customers to be assured and to have a guarantee of what the label
means and the source of the products. FSC is also the only forest certification
system that is supported by major environmental, social and Aboriginal groups,
such as WWF, World Wildlife Fund, CPAWS, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society,
the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club of Canada and many others.
FSC is also supported by Aboriginal groups, and in Canada that is
particularly important because of their role and their importance in our forest
context. I believe, as Mr. Bombay said in his address to this committee in May
of 2009, NAFA, the National Aboriginal Forestry Association, supports FSC
because it is the only forest certification system that addresses indigenous
rights as part of its principles and criteria, and that is a core part of FSC.
Having given that background and that context, I will talk about some of the
opportunities that FSC certification and forest certification can provide to the
forest sector. These opportunities are the competitive advantage that FSC
provides to certified companies in winning the loyalty and business of their
customers. It is also the opportunity of access to rapidly growing international
markets for FSC-certified products, as markets for many traditional products
contract or decrease. There is also the opportunity to diversify and to grow the
value-added forest products sector through FSC certification of the supply
chain. There is a particular opportunity to focus on supporting the
certification of small and medium-sized businesses across Canada within that
Another opportunity that comes from FSC certification is the growth in the
green building sector, through programs such as the Canada Green Building
Council and the LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, green
building rating system. The opportunity lies in providing and supporting the use
of FSC-certified wood products as a key component of green buildings, as a green
building sector continues to grow.
Another opportunity is the potential use of FSC certification as a
verification mechanism for carbon offset projects, biomass projects and other
While I do not have time to go into detail about all these opportunities
today, I do want to highlight three of them for you.
The first is the competitive advantage that FSC provides to companies. As an
example, Tembec, a Canadian- integrated forest products company with $2 billion
in sales, 6,000 employees and over 30 manufacturing facilities, credits the
success and survival of their company through the current forest crisis to the
fact they are FSC-certified, and that their customers have maintained their
loyalty because of that FSC certification. I want to read a quote from James
Lopez, President and CEO of Tembec about that. He said the following:
Some of Tembec's best customers are married to FSC-certified products . . .
We are the preferred supplier to Home Depot, the biggest buyer of lumber in
North America, only because of our FSC certification . . .
Other major pulp customers, ''household names'' that don't want to be
identified, became customers and hung on because of the certification.
Another example of a Canadian-based integrated forest company is Domtar,
which has over $5 billion in sales, 10,000 employees and 37 manufacturing
facilities. They credit the success of their EarthChoice line of 27 papers to
the fact that it is FSC-certified. To give an example of the impact of that
certification for their product line on the company, I will read a short
quotation from Lewis Fix, their vice-president of branding and sustainable
He said that FSC brought credibility to the EarthChoice initiative — the
reception was great and what was kind of a sidebar initiative has now become a
strategic pillar for the entire company.
So the competitive advantage FSC provides to Canadian forest products
companies is a significant opportunity for the sector as a whole.
Another opportunity is the certification of the supply chain in providing
greater access to FSC markets for small and medium-sized businesses. That not
only positively affects our communities but also contributes to diversifying and
growing the value-added product sector.
A few provincially led initiatives are now taking a step in this direction.
One such initiative is a partnership between the community development trust and
the Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers Association, whereby the
association has been provided with $850,000 to support the certification of
private woodlot owners in the province, thereby assuring a fibre supply for
Another initiative that must be mentioned is the Quebec Wood Export Bureau,
QWEB, traceability program for wood products, and I know Jacques Gauvin will be
addressing you today. I will not go into detail about it, but I want to take the
opportunity to congratulate Mr. Gauvin for the incredibly efficient management
of this program and the high quality reporting we have seen from it.
In brief, the QWEB traceability program for wood products provides financial
support to wood product suppliers for them to become certified by a forest
certification system of their choosing. In the most recent report of QWEB,
October 29 of this year, we saw that 111 companies have become certified. One
hundred per cent of those have been certified to the FSC certification system,
and 92 of them chose FSC exclusively as the certification program they felt
would give them the best access to the marketplace.
The last opportunity that I would like to talk about is the opportunity for
Canadian FSC-certified companies to access the global marketplace. On these
slides, I would like to show you the growth in FSC-certified forests by region
over time, as well as a chart showing the growth in FSC-certified producers and
manufacturers by region over time. They show that Canada is without a doubt a
world leader in the FSC certification of our forests, but we lag behind other
regions such as Europe, Asia and the U.S. when it comes to our ability to
provide the international marketplace with Canadian FSC-certified products. That
is where the opportunity lies. Canadian companies have the ability to provide
that marketplace with those FSC-certified products, but we need to support that
certification of the supply chain. We need to support the industry to assist
them in accessing that market, and we must ensure that our own purchasing and
our own policies support the initiative that the industry has already taken in
becoming certified. We must also ensure that we are also giving preference to
those certified products.
I will stop here now. I welcome any questions or comments you might have.
Peter Johnson, Consultant, Sustainable Forestry Initiative: Good
morning. Speaking as a professional forester and a representative of SFI,
Sustainable Forestry Initiative, I want to thank you for the opportunity to meet
with you this morning to talk about forest certification, and about the SFI
program in particular.
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative is the single largest forest
certification standard in the world. It works consistently to improve forest
management across Canada, through forest management standards, which are audited
and certified through independently accredited third-party certification bodies
using independently certified auditors. Currently, there are 50 million hectares
of Canadian forests that are certified to the SFI standard, making it the
largest certification of forests across Canada.
Another objective of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative is that it
strengthens the procurement of forest products globally through chain-of-custody
certification, meaning product traceability and responsible fibre sourcing.
Currently, under the SFI program, there are over 875 chain-of-custody
certifications, covering over 2,100 locations.
The SFI program was launched in 1994 with the first SFI national standard
backed by third-party audits, which were launched in 1998. I personally
conducted some of the first SFI audits which were delivered in Canada. SFI as an
organization is an independent, non-profit organization responsible for
overseeing, managing and improving the internationally recognized sustainable
forest management and chain-of-custody program. It is governed by an 18-member
board of directors representing environmental, social and economic interests
equally, and they govern all aspects of the sustainable forest management
In talking about forest certification and traceability, we talk about the
certifying of the forest lands themselves, whether it be large forest management
areas across Western and Central Canada, or the certification of private
woodlots and small family woodlots in Eastern Canada, which are a critical part
of the economy. We also then talk about chain of custody, which is the
traceability of fibre from the forest stand itself that has been certified right
through the transformation, transportation and coming out with the final
I thought one of the best ways to demonstrate this would be through an
illustration. Halloween night I was unpacking the Halloween candy, and here is a
Nestlé box of the candy, which probably was in each of your homes, or something
similar. If you look along this, you will see there is a SFI product logo that
demonstrates and communicates to a consumer that the fibre that was used in the
packaging of this product came from a certified forest, that there is
traceability that takes it right from Shoppers Drug Mart, where I bought it, all
the way back to the forest itself.
That is a demonstration of how the chain of custody works in a tangible
product, and how this carries right back to the forest of origin, where it was
The concepts and principles of forest certification are very consistent
across Canada, and I think I would like to build on probably one of the best
news pieces around the Canadian forest sector that we have right now. There has
been a lot of gloom and doom about the forest sector, about the forest industry,
the state of the industry itself, but one of the most promising aspects about
the industry, the sector, the communities in which they operate, is the fact
that Canada has the largest amount of independently certified, audited forests
through a range of the forest certification standards, putting Canada in a very
significant position to be able to provide, to the global marketplace, certified
forest products for a range of uses, both nationally and internationally.
The fundamental basic is that the forests themselves will not go away. The
forest sector will change as it evolves, and it will emerge into some different
areas into the future — there will be new products, new uses and new
technologies, but the core being a sustainable resource that can support natural
ecosystems obviously, the nations that are using this, the communities in which
they operate, that these are sustainably managed and utilized for us. Forest
certification demonstrates, through third-party processes, through the range of
certification schemes that are available in Canada, and we have a very good news
Moving forward, one of the most important things that the Government of
Canada and the provincial governments can help with is promoting Canada's forest
certification, certified forest products, as being the best choice in the
marketplace for consumers, and that we have a good news story about forest
certification in Canada. Our forests are reliably, independently, third-party
certified, and they can have confidence when purchasing forest products from
certified forests in Canada that they are making an informed, wise choice and
We need to stand up for our forest resources in Canada. We need to be able to
make decisions in Canada within our local communities that have an effect and
impact. It should not be external campaigns, external factors or forces, such as
the media, that shape these decisions. It should be decisions that are
influenced and shaped by the right questions being asked by the right people,
coming together with the right answers.
There are also questions about how we can link this into the corporate
responsibility, drive and initiatives that are being undertaken by corporate
Canada and corporate globally. There was reference to purchasing and procurement
policies made earlier by Ms. Becker, and those are important, powerful tools.
Asking companies to specify certified forest products from Canadian forests will
help stimulate that demand, supply and drive, in growing the Canadian industry
and supporting local communities.
Building our forests into the fabric of corporate responsibility across
Canada and around the world is a strong opportunity to move this forward.
This sector should be a priority within the provincial governments and the
federal government. If I hear one more person say that this is a ``sunset''
industry, I will throttle them. This is not a sunset industry. It is going
through a period of transition. It is going through a period of change.
Thankfully, we have folks like you who are taking the time to listen, to
understand, and to shape some ideas and opportunity and move these forward. We
are confident and hoping that the good news piece of forest certification and
certified forest products will be one of the messages you carry forward.
The Chair: I will now ask Mr. Jacques Gauvin, from the Quebec Wood
Export Bureau, to make his presentation.
Jacques Gauvin, Director, Traceability Program for Wood Products, Quebec
Wood Export Bureau: Mr. Chair, I would also like to thank the committee for
giving me the opportunity to speak about a program I have been in charge of for
almost a year as part of the Quebec Wood Export Bureau's work.
Our country's governments have been looking to provide assistance to the
Quebec and Canadian forest industry, which has been struggling for several
years. This task has not always been an easy one, owing to not only the fact
that transactions with our neighbours to the south are difficult, but also to
the fact that dealing with the forest industry is not easy. However, research
has provided us with a solution for at least part of the problem. The
Chain-of-Custody Certification Program for Wood Products is funded in equal
parts by the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec. The program's
purpose is to support producers so that they can gain a certain competitive edge
on the markets by being able to label and demonstrate the environmental
characteristics of their products through one of the certifications that were
talked about earlier, issued by the either FSC, SFI or CSA, PEFC. The program's
objective was to help companies. The program has other components, which I will
go over before I go back to the chain of custody and explain the process
involved in more detail.
A certain number of companies already have chains of custody. We did not want
to ignore these proactive companies by making the program available only to
companies wishing to become proactive. A component of this program makes it
possible for us to provide funding for the mandatory annual audit for companies
that already have a chain of custody.
As requested by the industry, phytosanitary standards have also been included
in the program's framework.
As you probably know, Canadian companies cannot export wood products without
complying with certain standards, to avoid transporting certain insects abroad,
insects that will always be present in wood. Wood products must be heat treated,
and that process cannot be undertaken in a haphazard way. Rules set out by the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency must be followed.
Companies that want to get involved in exporting could use the program to
acquire and develop a procedure manual that would enable them to treat their
wood products properly and to be able to export their products if they were not
already doing so.
To assist companies that already have what we call the procedures manual for
phytosanitary standards, a significant update has been in the works, as part of
the Canadian Heat Treatment Wood Products Certification Program. We have
integrated this element into the Chain-of-Custody Certification Program for Wood
Products, and those companies wishing to update their procedures are supported
by the latter program.
Although the most important component is implementation, we have tied it in
with elements that could be of interest to producers whose main activities
consist in exporting. Our main objective is to help the industry without
creating any further rifts between our forest industry and our American friends.
Implementation is the program's most important component. So, how does it
work? It is very simple. The management committee's initial concern was to make
the implementation process uncomplicated, accessible and transparent. Rigorous
monitoring is necessary because public funds are involved.
A company that wants to implement a chain of custody, regardless of which
one, signs up for the program on line by completing a very short form of just
over a page in length. Approval is granted automatically on line. If approved,
the person going through the process must choose an accredited consultant. Why?
Because we do not pay out funds directly to the company and say: ``Do what you
must to set up your chain of custody.'' That is not how the process works.
We have accredited a certain number of consultants to help people implement
chains of custody. There is a list of consultants also found on QWEB's website.
We do not decide which consultant a company should deal with. The company itself
chooses its consultant as well as one of the three chain-of-custody certificates
I mentioned earlier.
Once that step is completed, a contractual agreement covering the mutual
obligations is signed. The company's most important obligation is certifying its
chain of custody once the process is completed. Our ultimate goal is to enable
as many companies as possible to get on the market and offer products with a
label recognizing their environmental value.
Obviously, the accredited consultants and the QWEB representatives, who have
access to company information, are bound by a confidentiality agreement. The
information is not shared with third parties.
The first step consists in making a diagnosis of the company's situation. You
probably understand that we cannot leave it to the accredited consultant to
determine the amount of work needed to help the company because that would
create a conflict-of-interest situation, which would be unacceptable. As a
result, we hired a prominent business firm that specializes in this area. We
signed a long-term agreement with the firm, which will not be doing any
implementation work but will only make the diagnoses. Therefore, the firm would
be working independently.
It will diagnose the situation of a given company and will state, for
instance: ``We anticipate 10 days of work for the implementation of the chain of
custody in this company.'' It goes without saying that, once the independent
assessment is completed, both the company and I are informed of the results.
Following this step, I sign a 10-day agreement with the accredited consultant,
based on the program's economic parameters. By signing the agreement, the
accredited consultant commits to completing the remaining work involved. I pay
the consultant directly; the company itself is not involved in the transaction.
Once the accredited consultant's involvement is nearing an end, a quality
control process is undertaken. Our objective is not for the company to enjoy the
process, but rather for the process to be successful. We want the end result to
be a registration audit, a new chain of custody for wood products. We want to
make sure that the work is well done.
Once the accredited consultant's work is almost completed, the independent
firm I talked about earlier gets involved. It conducts a pre-audit, at no cost
to the company. The company is responsible for ensuring that it is ready to
undergo a registration audit in due time. Quality control is thus ensured.
The next step is the most important one. I am talking about the scheduling of
an appointment with the registrar responsible for the standard in question and,
of course, for the registration audit. To date, few companies have completed the
whole process. Many of them are currently going through the process, but, to
date, all the companies that have followed the steps I just outlined have
successfully scheduled their registration audits.
I have some figures for you before I wrap up my presentation. The program
began in November 2009 and will end in 2013. For almost three years, the
program's objective has been to assist about 350 companies because we needed to
set an initial objective that would allow us to see if the program was
effective. Setting objectives is always interesting. As we mentioned earlier,
there are now 221 companies or plants that are already registered for the
program. So, we are not doing too badly.
Out of these 221 companies or plants, 111 have begun the process of
implementing a chain of custody. Since the forest industry is still struggling
and is recovering extremely slowly, we had originally thought that the process
would be much slower than it has been. So, we are very satisfied with the number
of companies on board and are very confident that, by 2013, we will have reached
our objective of 350 additional companies, since some companies were already
registered prior to the program's launch.
The fact that an additional 350 companies in Quebec will be able to sell
their products with a guarantee for the consumer and that these products will
have recognized environmental values demonstrated by the logos mentioned earlier
is a positive sign. This concludes my overview of the Chain-of-Custody
Certification Program for Wood Products.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Gauvin.
We will move to questions from the senators, starting with Senator Plett.
Senator Plett: Thank you for your interesting presentations. I am
looking at the map of all the different certifications, and there are a number
of them. CSA, Canadian Standards Association, is something that I have always
understood because it is there in many other industries. Are FSC and SFI
mandatory, or are they voluntary programs? Where does that start? It starts in
the forests and works all the way down to the stores, I assume.
Ms. Becker: FSC certification is completely voluntary. Forest managers
and companies within the supply chain voluntarily choose to become certified in
order to meet the needs or demands of their customers. It is not mandated by
government or anybody else right now.
Mr. Johnson: All forest certification is voluntary. Whether it is the
CSA standard, SFI or FSC, they are all voluntary standards.
Senator Plett: I thought that would be the case. Mr. Johnson, you had
the cardboard thing from Nestlé. I gather from your presentation that you were
not buying the Nestlé product because they were certified, or were you?
Mr. Johnson: It definitely had an influence on my purchasing.
Senator Plett: You saw the certification before you purchased?
Mr. Johnson: Correct.
Senator Plett: I have never asked for any of these when I have bought
a product, whether it is a box of Nestlé or anything else. I would not have
thought of asking is it SFI- or FSC-certified; how many people would?
What would drive Rona? What would drive any store to say we need to be
certified because someone might come in and buy a package of stationery —
although I am not sure whether that product is certified; what would cause me to
ask for a certified product? What advantage would my Home Depot or anybody else
have in being certified?
Ms. Becker: The advantage they have is customer growth in green
products and the interest consumers have. It is like the growth of the organic
sector in agriculture and the growth in the demand for fair trade products.
Green products' sustainability is something that is increasingly important to
customers. Whether they are asking specifically for a product because it has an
FSC label or an SFI label, they are looking for a guarantee and assurance about
the sourcing of their products. It is not all customers out there or everyone,
but there is a significant and growing portion of both consumers — and corporate
buyers as well — who are recognizing the importance of that.
Senator Plett: Would it not do everything you want it to do, or we
want it to do, with the green product by us simply working with the forest
industry itself? That is where the green is supposed to start, correct? It is
sustaining our forest.
If we work with the Irvings of the world or any other forestry people — while
I am not the biggest one for mandating, if we were to mandate something at that
level and we would have the same colour right across here; we have many
different colours in this map and I am not sure why they would not adhere to the
same standard of certification — would that not do what you want to do and have
it created across the country?
Mr. Johnson: If I could answer with two analogies, Canada is the most
highly regulated country in the world when it comes to forest management. There
are very stringent provincial legal requirements for forest management planning
and activities. It has not been good enough to keep up with critics, academics
and those who believe regulation is not strong enough.
We just have to go back to the 1980s and look at activities like Clayoquot
Sound where people made it clear that the regulations were not good enough.
There was the start of the building of forest certification that goes above and
beyond the legal requirements.
To look at this from a labelling perspective, when you walk into a store and
you purchase a piece of electronics — a light bulb, a toaster, Christmas tree
lights — you expect it to work, that it will not overheat, catch fire or burn
your house down. There is now a growing expectation that the forest products you
purchase have not harmed the environment, and that they are coming from
sustainably managed sources.
People may not be walking in and specifically looking for a label on their
forest product, but it is becoming more of an expectation that, for this product
I am buying in this day and age in this advantaged society, we should be able to
have the ability to demonstrate that the products are coming from a sustainably
The labelling process is the chain of custody. It is a way of demonstrating
it, the same way that you have product certification stamps on a toaster or
light bulb from Underwriters Laboratories or the Canadian Standards Association.
Ms. Becker: The other aspect of certification is that label and that
ability for companies' forests which are certified to have recognition to get
that additional customers' access to new markets in the marketplace because it
is a global marketplace. Canada exports the majority of our products, and
Canadian companies have to be able to compete in that international marketplace.
That is where the recognition of a label, a logo, in that international
marketplace is so important for the viability of the industry.
Senator Plett: Are the FSC and the SFI competing forces? You both want
Ms. Becker: As voluntary certification systems, it is companies who
choose which certification system their customers are interested in and looking
for. Both SFI and FSC are market-based mechanisms. The customers choose what
product provides them with an assurance.
There are companies that are certified to both FSC and SFI standards. There
are many companies that are certified exclusively to FSC because they feel that
will give them the benefit in the marketplace.
Senator Plett: I do not want to beat this to death, Mr. Chair, but to
me, it would make more sense if you would join forces. I think we are
overregulated in our country and we are creating more and more regulations. I
support green; I support us making sure we have a forest industry.
We have spent some time touring the forests in the last couple of years, and
I have gained a new appreciation for the industry. Not wanting to plug the
Irvings too much here, but we spent some time in their forests and they are
doing a wonderful job, in my opinion, of maintaining and taking care of the
I believe we are regulated to death. If you guys would all get together and
create one standard, would you not be able to work better and have a bigger
impact on Canadians if there was one standard? Would that not be better than me
checking to see if the product has CSA, SFI or FSC, or do they have all three,
and if they have all three, then that is the product I will buy?
I will likely look and see what the price of the item is. That is likely what
I will do, along with most Canadians, I think.
Ms. Becker: You are definitely right that people would like to see one
standard. To clarify how the standards are created, it is not from FSC sitting
in our office and writing a standard. Our forest standards and all of our
standards are written by local stakeholders. The forest industry, environmental,
Aboriginal and social interests sit down and write our standards.
If SFI would like to have their standards at the same acceptance level as FSC
standards, we would be happy to see that happen. To date, our stakeholders have
not felt that is the case.
Senator Plett: Let me ask the question; you are sitting closely to
each other. Is your standard better than his standard?
Ms. Becker: In my opinion, yes.
Senator Plett: Let me close by saying I really appreciate, Mr.
Johnson, that the forest industry is not a sunset industry. I appreciate that.
Senator Mercer: Senator Plett, do not get involved in labour
Thank you very much, witnesses. I am very interested and somewhat confused,
as Senator Plett has so ably explained or tried to explain.
All politics are local so I want to go back to something Ms. Becker said
about the $850,000 for private woodlot owners in Nova Scotia to get
certification. Obviously, one of my prime concerns is the forests of Nova
Whose money is that, how is it distributed and how does someone apply for
Ms. Becker: My understanding is the community development trust is a
fund funded by federal and provincial interests. I cannot speak in detail as to
how that is distributed and how companies apply for those funds, but I could get
you that information if you would like.
Senator Mercer: A few days ago we heard from private woodlot owners.
They explained to us that one of the difficulties was the cost of certification.
If I recall correctly, the number they used was between $1,000 and $1,500.
That was just the initial cost to start with having someone come in to help
develop a sustainable plan, making sure the forests were being properly managed
at the local level. To many people in the industry, this is definitely not a
sunset industry or a new industry but one in transition. One of the major
transitions is that we are starting to look for some regulations and standards
that we never looked for before. You used to go to the lumberyard to buy the
cheapest two-by-four that meets your needs, and now you have to look for a logo
on it to ensure it is sustainable. It is confusing.
Are we headed in the direction of labelling as undesirable forest products
that are not certified? It may be an extreme example, but in the diamond
business, we distinguish between diamonds mined in a humane way and diamonds
that are not mined in a humane way where the funds are used to promote war and
child soldiers, et cetera. Will we have ``clean wood'' and ``dirty wood''? Is
that where we will end up?
Ms. Becker: Things are certainly heading in that direction globally.
Outside Canada, many forestry practices in Asia and in the tropics are causing
concern as the awareness continues to grow about the impacts of climate change
and the role forests place in mitigating climate change. Ensuring that our
forests are being sustainably managed in a way that maintains carbon resources
is a way of meeting climate change.
We are heading in a direction where there will be increasing recognition that
there is good wood and wood products that are questionable of origin. That does
not mean necessarily they are bad wood, but it means we do not know. As we move
forward, people will want greater certainty.
You used the analogy of diamonds. Canadian diamonds that are certified with
the polar bear recognizes that those are diamonds you can trust, and it is that
trust that the marketplace is looking for.
Looking at many of the recalls of children's toys made in China because of
concerns about lead in paint, it is the same issue of people looking for
assurance and trust in the products they are purchasing. I believe most
definitely that that will be the case for forest products as well.
Mr. Johnson: It is already clear that the premise of forest
certification was to keep the good wood good and get the dirty wood out. There
is already dirty wood in the marketplace, for example, wood that is illegally
logged or sourced from unacceptable areas or by unacceptable means. Globally,
forest certification has a long way to go. Only 10 per cent of the world's
forests are certified. In North America, we are doing well but globally,
especially in developing countries, forest certification has a long way to go.
We are already on a path toward segregating certified ``good wood'' and ``not
Mr. Gauvin: Maybe you know about the Lacey Act in the United States —
it was an existing act that they changed in 2008 to include all the forest
products and all wood in forest products. The products should be sourced
legally. It is not a requirement but just a declaration at this point. However,
everybody expects it will go further and will ask companies to have a system of
traceability, not necessarily linked to a forest certification scheme that
already exists, but one that provides a paper trail to prove that the wood has
been cut legally.
It is the same thing in Europe. You probably know that either now or in the
near future the European community will adopt a regulation that will go further
than the Lacey Act. We expect that it will happen in Japan next year. Everywhere
in the world, we are looking at it, and it is in part because of the climate
change discussions around deforestation. We see that wood cut illegally in
Indonesia and other parts of the world will have to disappear because people are
more aware of that.
Of course, in Canada, in Quebec and other provinces, illegally cut wood is
not a big problem. However, some companies, for example, in the furniture
sector, have parts of their furniture coming from other parts of the world. If
you are at the frontier with the U.S. and are selling furniture, you will have
to be sure because you have a declaration stating that you do not have illegal
wood in your furniture. However, you have to be sure to have all the information
about the sources as the supply could be from places where you are not sure that
it is legal wood.
It is on the market, and you are right about that question. It is there and
it will stay there.
Senator Mercer: Mr. Gauvin, again, the issue of traceability is not
foreign to members of this committee. We go back to our work on beef in the BSE
crisis where we talked about traceability from conception to consumption, or
from the ``thrill to the grill'' as we called it. Will we need to do that now
with all wood products, namely, be able to say that the wood used in this pencil
came from this forest at a certain point in time and was harvested in a
Mr. Gauvin: I am not a specialist on that kind of question, but with
respect to complex products, I gave the example of furniture. With paper
products, wood panels and so forth, it is more complicated, and I know it is a
challenge for certain companies, but it is possible. I know of at least one
company that contemplated the Lacey Act and decided to act on it more quickly
than others did. They invested some money to get all the information, the paper
trails, information from the suppliers and so forth, and they got it. It cost
some money, of course, but now they have the system to prove that. Eventually,
it will come to that, I suppose.
Senator Mercer: Mr. Johnson, you said Canadian forests are the most
regulated in the world, but you then said we cannot keep up with the critics.
Who are the critics, and what motivates them?
Mr. Johnson: The critics are interest groups. They are within Canada,
they are groups that have special interests, and they are outside of Canada.
They are foundations or special interest groups that are out for a specific
reason, cause or motive to have their views or their opinions cast upon a
practice or an area.
We have seen examples of that with the oil sands in Alberta where local
groups and national and international groups exert pressure. We have seen that
in the forest sector in Canada as well. There is a range of critics. Some are
valid; some are, perhaps, questionable, and their science is, perhaps,
Senator Mercer: Would it be safe to say that some of these critics do
not have the best interests of the people in the forestry industry at heart, and
that we probably cannot ever, ever meet their ever-rising expectations?
Mr. Johnson: That is a very true statement. I would agree with that.
Senator Eaton: To follow on Senator Mercer's question, I am leading an
inquiry in the Senate about the economic benefits of the oil sands project
because I feel so much is not science-based, and we have been unfairly
criticized by people who have much to look at in themselves, including the U.S.
and Asian countries. The same goes for the rest of the world in terms of our
We are the most forested country in the world. We are a carbon sink, or
carbon neutral, in some cases, and we do not stick up for ourselves. We are
constantly self-criticizing, letting the world criticize us and not correcting
the facts. That drives me crazy.
When you talk about old-growth forests, clear-cutting and GM, genetically
modified, seeds, does that make a forest ``ungreen''? Can you certify a forest
that has been grown or uses GM trees, for instance?
Mr. Johnson: There are no genetically modified forests or trees being
used outside of laboratories and testing in Canada, in North America.
Senator Eaton: Once they leave the labs and go into forests, will you
be able to certify them?
Mr. Johnson: If genetically modified ever got outside of the
laboratory and the testing, that topic and issue would have to be reviewed by
the entire SFI board and the participants from around the world to come to a
consensus and agreement on how it will be looked at.
There are different variations of GMOs, genetically modified organisms, as
well. Some are genetic modifications, some are just trial modifications as well,
so there is a whole range. GMO is a very broad category.
Once it gets out, SFI will have to look at that topic specifically.
Senator Eaton: We have heard witnesses here talking about how the
carbon of trees sinks, but once they reach the end of their growth cycle they
start releasing carbon. What about things like clear-cutting and old growth?
Aesthetically, old-growth forests are beautiful, clear-cutting, aesthetically is
ugly, but does that fall into your range of things that make a forest
unsustainable or not certifiable?
Mr. Johnson: The vision of a clear-cut, and a vision of old growth,
and a definition of old-growth forest, there are old-growth forests where the
trees are very small.
Senator Eaton: I live on Georgian Bay, and I know how small they get.
Mr. Johnson: Perfect. There is a provision. There is a maximum size
for a harvest in the SFI standard, and you cannot exceed that size for a
clear-cut. I will let FSC respond to your points about clear-cutting, but there
is a maximum clear-cut size within the SFI standard.
Senator Eaton: Why is that? Is it due to aesthetics or a concern for
Mr. Johnson: There are aesthetics. Compositions that have to go into
forest management planning have a specific principle around aesthetics. There
are specific requirements around forest habitat and wildlife habitat planning as
well. It can get quite complicated because some animal species would like a very
large opening, some would like a very narrow opening and some would like to have
trees scattered in it. That is not a black-and-white response about whether
clear-cut should be permitted or not. It is also species dependent as well.
Senator Eaton: Even though it will be reforested?
Mr. Johnson: Correct. Again, regeneration is also a mandatory part of
the standard, post-harvesting and cutting.
You can have a certified forest that has been cut. The cuts cannot exceed the
requirements of the standard. You also have to take in the provision for
wildlife planning, regeneration and the visual aspects of the forest as well.
Senator Eaton: Water tables and other things?
Mr. Johnson: Water tables and all those attributes must be accounted
for in the forest management plan in order for it to be certified.
Ms. Becker: The FSC national boreal standard does allow for
clear-cutting to take place, and that is really within the Canadian context. The
only forest region where it is an issue in the other regions of Canada is where
we have regional forest management standards where clear-cutting is not
acceptable. The reason our stakeholders found that it was acceptable in the
boreal forest is because of how the boreal forest regenerates.
It is a disturbance ecosystem in that fires going through the boreal,
traditionally cleared, large areas and the trees are adapted to grow within
large, cleared openings. No hard limit is set within the FSC national boreal
standard for a maximum size or average size of a clearing because it was felt
that any number you set would be arbitrary. Is it 10,000 hectares, 5 hectares?
Where do you put the mark? Our stakeholders also felt it was much more important
to look at landscape level impacts of the harvesting that has taken place.
In Northern Ontario, for example, the Gordon Cosens Forest is over 2 million
hectares, a very large area. In working with local stakeholders, what they
decided would be best for that region was not to have smaller, cleared areas
throughout that region. That would have had negative impacts on caribou
populations because it has been shown that caribou is very sensitive to any
disturbance. If you take out small areas throughout the entire 2 million
hectares, caribou will move away from there completely. Therefore, they decided
to focus harvesting in one part of their forest and leave the rest untouched.
FSC looks at those landscape level impacts and looks to local stakeholders,
the companies themselves, and then working with scientists and academics to
decide what is best for that specific region.
Senator Eaton: Thank you. Do the three of you feel that part of your
mandate is to educate the Canadian public in terms of what is good science and
what is bad science? In other words, standing up for our practices in this
country so people, perhaps when they go to Rona or Home Depot, will not buy the
Chinese kitchen cabinets made in China, but would perhaps buy Canadian? Is that
something you do?
Ms. Becker: Most definitely.
Mr. Gauvin: I would very much like to do that because, in former jobs,
I worked with the Quebec forestry association. The main mandate of that
association was to inform the population about forests and all the things going
on in the forest. It is not part of my work now.
Senator Eaton: Do you feel that we are at a disadvantage in this
country? We heard from some witnesses from Quebec who build kitchen cabinets.
Our forests are certified, as you two have explained to me, but when we import
kitchen cabinets from China, from overseas, do we demand that their wood be
Mr. Gauvin: Not that I know of.
Senator Eaton: It is an unequal trade, in effect.
Mr. Johnson: Correct. This is one area we continue to work on, to have
the preference for certified products at the retail level, the people specifying
these products — whether it be a retailer, home builder, contractor, architect
or designer, the person who has the ability to specify forest products — specify
Canadian forest products, and certified forest products would be our desire.
That is what we spend a lot of our time asking for.
Senator Eaton: People demand of us certain standards, but the Canadian
government does not demand the same standards back again?
Mr. Johnson: Correct.
Senator Robichaud: First, I would like to say that the preliminary
presentations were very interesting.
Is it difficult for a small or a medium-sized company to get certified? Ms.
Becker, you mentioned an association, in Nova Scotia, which had received
$850,000, and you said that this amount will only be enough to begin the
Ms. Becker: You are talking about forest certification costs, I
presume, versus the chain-of-custody certification. The cost for certification
depends on a few factors. They depend on the size of the forest that is looking
to get certified, the current forest practices of that forest, and then there is
the actual cost of the certification audit. That means having an auditor come
into the forest, do the initial evaluation and, hopefully, pass the forest for
certification. There is also an annual audit where the auditors will come back
and do an annual surveillance audit of the forest.
There are four smaller forests. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where there
are many private woodlots of smaller size, the way FSC has been operating there
is we have what is called group certification. It is like a cooperative, where
smaller forests and smaller woodlot owners can come together under an
association — like the Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers
Association — and get a group certification. That group certification then
allows numerous members to be part of it, the benefit being that it reduces the
cost per individual.
It still requires, however, that for that group there be an evaluation of the
members of the group, the various woodlot owners, their current forestry
practices, if they are harvesting, what their forest management plans look like,
what the gap is between what they are currently doing and what is required by
FSC, and then looking at some of those landscape levels. That is really what we
are looking at, what the landscape is of our forest and how these private
woodlot owners fit within that. That is where those costs come in as well.
Senator Robichaud: In New Brunswick, there is an association of
private woodlot owners. Witnesses who appeared last Tuesday told us that the
average size of the woodlots is 100 acres.
Your organization brings together a lot of people. The certification can be
rather costly, right?
Ms. Becker: It can be, yes. In Canada right now, in terms of group
certifications for forests, there is group certification in British Columbia for
smaller, private woodlot owners along the coast and the interior, and then in
the Maritimes and Southern Ontario where you also have a high number of private
woodlot owners. One of the challenges is not only for small, private woodlot
owners, but also for the wood products producers who are smaller or medium-
sized. There will be a fixed cost to certification regardless of whether they
are big or little. That cost has a much bigger impact if you are a small
company. That is where trying to encourage the group certification as a
beneficial strategy. As an example, on the printing side, I am sure much of the
mail you get has a FSC label or logo on it. The pulp, paper and print sector has
had a lot of demand for FSC. For the small print shop, a ma-and-pa shop down the
street, there is a cost to it that may be prohibitive to them. In Ontario, for
example, the Ontario Printing and Imaging Association has a group chain of
custody certificate so that their members can become certified for a reduced
cost all under one certificate. Those types of initiatives make it easier for
the small and medium-sized companies or forests to become certified, but we need
more of that. There is not enough right now.
Senator Robichaud: I fear that small companies will be left behind in
this whole process.
Ms. Becker: That is why we need to make sure that they are not. In
Canada, many of those cooperatives in terms of licence holders and others exist,
and support is being provided to them, but we definitely need more support to
them to help them be able to access those markets. The program Mr. Gauvin is
working with is so innovative and important because it is targeting those
companies that would not have the resources on their own, perhaps, because of
Mr. Johnson: One strength of the SFI system is the scalability of the
standard and its application. It can be equally applied with strength and rigour
at a small woodlot level the same way it can be applied for a large-scale forest
management area of Western Canada. The SFI standard is used in the United States
where the vast majority of forests are private, family-held small woodlots, and
so that standard applies in the United States as it does in Canada. There has
been a lot of uptake of the SFI standard in Atlantic Canada, including the
woodlot owners' associations within New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and Quebec,
and the parallel in the United States through the American tree farm system
being recognized under the SFI program as well.
There is scalability, and I do not think that there is a fear about the
applicability of the standards. The financial accessibility is definitely a
different topic, but an important one. The standards will work in that
landscape. It is the various means and tools that are available for financing
that are being built and will continue to be built as well.
Senator Robichaud: Mr. Gauvin, would you like to add anything further?
Mr. Gauvin: Obviously, this issue affects us indirectly. Forest
certification is the starting-off point for a forest owner. As it has been
pointed out, the program I am in charge of deals with chain-of-custody
certification. Once the forest certification is obtained, chain-of-custody
certification is next on the list for those involved in the steps that follow,
from wood processing to the market. We do not get involved with the actual
Senator Robichaud: How does your certification affect recyclable
Ms. Becker: FSC certification is a verification of virgin forest
fibre, but it is also a verification of recycled fibre. As part of the FSC
chain-of-custody certification process, auditors go in and verify at recycling
mills and pulp mills that make recycled pulp that it is, in fact, post-consumer
recycled pulp. You can have a product that is FSC-certified 100 per cent
recycled and that exists. FSC verifies the validity of claims regarding recycled
FSC embarked upon this, realizing the Möbius loop, the three arrows we all
recognize as the symbol for recycling, is actually in the public domain, so no
one owns that symbol. Anyone can put the recycled symbol on a product. Most
consumers presume that it means it is recycled, but there is no verification of
that. That is why FSC thought it was important, in addition to verifying the
source of virgin forest fibre, to also be verifying the source of recycled
forest fibres as well. As an example, in Quebec, the Cascades Mills produce 100
per cent post-consumer, recycled paper that is also FSC-certified.
Mr. Johnson: It is a similar approach in terms of the auditing and
verification of the percentage of the recycled content. The recycled aspect of
paper in the forest products going forward will continue to grow. There
certainly is a growing demand for higher and higher recycled fibre content.
There are also great opportunities for additional fibre utilization. If you can
get a truck taking product into the Eastern United States that is fully loaded
and can start to backhaul some of that waste paper and bring it into recycling
facilities in Canada, you will add value to that whole fibre chain. We will also
see a continued demand for the recycled content which is, again, very similar to
the FSC, why we have that declaration, and an audit to demonstrate the recycled
Senator Meighen: I will be very brief, so perhaps Senator Robichaud
could take up the balance of my time. Senator Eaton asked my question about
clear-cutting. Analogous to that, perhaps I could ask you about cutting close to
watercourses that could be improper if not illegal. How does that affect, if it
does, the certification process? Suppose the cutting itself is done according to
the practices that are certifiable but the location of the cutting is not
appropriate or legal. What do you do about certifying then? Can you certify
illegally cut wood?
Ms. Becker: For FSC, the answer is no. FSC does not just look at what
trees you are taking out and how you are cutting them. It looks at the entire
landscape that those trees are being cut within. Within all of the FSC regional
standards, there are requirements for how far away from waterways you must be in
Senator Meighen: Are they your standards or provincial government
Ms. Becker: These are FSC standards. There are also, within the FSC
standards, requirements about how you build roads because, of course, roads
affect waterways as well — so how you build them, where you build them and what
you do with the roads afterwards, if you are allowed to buy provincial to close
them up and move out of those regions. The FSC standards look at the impact of
the harvesting on soil and soil erosion, on waterways, on wildlife habitat, and
then also of course on the local communities and the Aboriginal peoples who work
in and near the forests as well. It really is a holistic look at the forest
management and not simply about cutting a tree and getting it out of there.
Mr. Johnson: You cannot be certified if you are not cutting according
to the legal requirements or to the requirements of the forestry standard, which
does set specific distances for how far you can be from a water body.
Senator Meighen: It is not always observed, is it?
Mr. Johnson: No, not always, but that has to be identified during the
audit process. Sometimes legitimate, honest mistakes happen. I have audited
forest operators who are operating their machinery 24 hours a day, and sometimes
you think that flagging tape in the tree is right there, but it is pitch black
out and you only have the headlights on your harvester going and you are off by
about 15 feet. They recognize that that is a mistake and they go against the
map. These things happen, but it is the corrective actions that have to be taken
as well. If you are practicing illegal forestry activities, you cannot be
Senator Meighen: I would like Mr. Gauvin to clarify something for me.
You talked about the objective to assist 350 companies by 2013. If companies
that are already registered for the program are added to that number, what
percentage of the Quebec total would be registered?
Mr. Gauvin: It would have been of interest to provide you with some
sales figures, but we have not done the calculations. Before I was even involved
in the program, an assessment of the number of new chains of custody was
conducted. We cannot launch a program and simply hope it will work. We must
establish objectives and set our sights on achieving tangible results. I think
it is safe to say that 350 companies is an objective that, if reached, would be
considered a positive outcome.
For what it is worth, I will give you my estimate. If I take into account all
the companies that already had a chain of custody in the Quebec forest industry,
including the pulp and paper industry, I add everything up and it brings me to
March 2013. I think that, at that point, 75 per cent and more of the wood
product industry will be selling their products on the export markets and will
be able to have a chain of custody for those products. So the percentage will be
a significant one.
Let us forget about the 75 per cent that I mentioned, but let us just say
that the figure will be significant. I think that we will thrive, and that was
our goal. We hope to stand out on the markets thanks to our certification
Senator Meighen: What are the main reasons why companies decide not to
register for the program?
Mr. Gauvin: I will answer your question backwards. You will perhaps be
surprised to learn that many companies have contacted me over the last year to
find out about the program. Do not take this at face value, but the first thing
I realize is that people are not interested in the certification, it means
nothing to them. They do not want to pay for it, but the customers want
companies to get certified.
Senator Meighen: The customer is always right.
Mr. Gauvin: How would you react if you were in business and your
customers asked you which standards they should adopt? When this happens, I do
not say anything, I try to get our program to work for the customer's company.
That is how I do things, and I believe that, with time, more and more companies
are becoming part of the program.
Some people call me and tell me that they are not prepared to pay the annual
fees. We have to keep in mind that even though the annual cost of a chain of
custody is perhaps lower than the whole forest certification process we were
talking about earlier, for small companies, that amount is still $4,000
annually. Meanwhile, the issues in the forest sector have still not been
People ask me if I will still be here in 2011. I tell them that I hope so.
They ask me if I will still be here in 2012, and I say, yes, absolutely.
I anticipate that all companies will eventually be part of the program.
Senator Fairbairn: At the beginning, when you were discussing how this
all works, Ms. Becker, you mentioned our native people at one point, which made
me think it was a very good part of what you are doing. I completely agree with
both of you who immediately popped up and talked about Mr. Suzuki's
organization. If you have Mr. Suzuki's good idea behind you, I agree with you
completely that there is no one who does it better.
I am from Alberta, and we have a great number of trees, as well as a great
number of native people. Could you give me an idea of how this fits in?
I think what you are doing is a very important thing to do for the people who
are working with it, but also for ordinary people who are very interested in
what you are doing. Could you give me an idea about how this works with the
Aboriginal people across the country? I am from Alberta so we have a great deal
of interest in that. Could you fill that out a little bit for me?
Ms. Becker: I will answer that in a few parts. First, I will explain
how Aboriginal people fit within the FSC standards. FSC governances, the way our
standards are developed, as I said, is by our stakeholders. We have four
chambers or representative groups who come together to develop our standards,
based on consensus. Those four chambers are Aboriginal peoples, economic
interests, environmental interests and social interests. We bring all of those
chambers or representatives around the table and they have to agree on what is a
responsibly managed forest in their region.
As you can imagine, they are not always easy conversations or quick
conversations. However, the result is that the standard they develop is strong
and it is supported by all of them, because they all feel it is the best choice
for their communities and forests. That is at the level of developing the
All of FSC's forest management standards are based on our 10 principles, and
within each principle there are criteria. One of those 10 principles is
dedicated specifically to the rights of indigenous peoples. Every FSC-certified
forest in the world and Canada must not only go out and consult with indigenous
peoples on a specific set of items, they have to also actively involve them in
the process. They have to go out to the communities, talk to them, invite them
to look at the forest management plans and help identify what areas are of
cultural or traditional value to them. For example, is there a hunting ground or
a place where they harvest berries?
Then the forest company must work with them to find a mechanism for
respecting that — perhaps not going into those areas — and they have to work
collaboratively. It is on a company-by-company basis, how they have created the
arrangements and partnerships with the local communities. Tembec, for example,
in their FSC-certified forests in Quebec, employs a great number of the
Aboriginal youth in their forestry operations. They have a training program to
train and then employ them in the forests, as well as in their manufacturing
mills and facilities.
As we all know, the demographic of Aboriginal youth is growing, but there is
a huge issue of how to train and involve these youth in their communities. That
is what a lot of the companies are doing to help engage them and work with them.
There are examples like that across Canada.
There are also a number of forests that are FSC-certified and are managed by
Aboriginal peoples. On Vancouver Island, in Clayoquot Sound, ESAC, Environmental
Studies Association of Canada, forest management manages a portion of the forest
in the Clayoquot Sound area, and it is FSC-certified and operating according to
FSC principles and standards.
The Aboriginal peoples are involved not only in the governance of FSC as an
organization, but in the development of our standards, and then as a very
engaged and involved member of the decision making about how forestry happens on
lands within which they live or next to where they live.
Does that answer your question?
Senator Fairbairn: Yes. That would probably be done in different ways,
too, in the southwest part of Alberta, where we are very much together with the
mountains and with the native people around.
Ms. Becker: Tembec has FSC-certified forests in Southern Alberta, as
well, where they have a very good relationship with the First Nations.
Senator Fairbairn: I am glad to hear that.
Ms. Becker: My family is from Alberta as well. You probably would be
proud to know the largest FSC-certified forest in the world is in Alberta. A
5.5-million-hectare forest by Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries is FSC-certified
and they work very closely with the Aboriginal communities there.
Senator Fairbairn: Would that be in the Southwest corner?
Ms. Becker: No, it is in North Central Alberta.
Senator Fairbairn: It is very close to where I live.
Ms. Becker: If you are ever interested in going to visit the
Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries, an FSC-certified forest, we could arrange it.
Senator Fairbairn: I would.
Mr. Johnson: There are First Nations requirements and consultations
for all the certification programs.
There are three ways to look at it for the First Nations. Each of the
provinces that has responsibility for forest management will have a provision
for First Nation consultation. Usually, it is a parallel consultation that is
part of the forest management planning process, where there is a separate
consultation with the First Nations to talk about their interests, expectations
and participation, generally conducted in the language of their choice.
That is a legal framework set out by the provincial governments.
Senator Fairbairn: Does the Kainai (Blood Tribe) Nation ever involve
itself in that? It is right in the foothills of the Rockies.
Mr. Johnson: I would have to check specifically on that First Nation.
I imagine there would be the opportunity and the invitation to participate in
the processes. There is the legal framework, and the certification programs have
their requirements for First Nation consultation and participation in the
process. Then the companies themselves will go further beyond the legal
requirements embedded in the certification and either hire a specific
coordinator for First Nation consultation, or bring in Aboriginal staff or
training programs. It is a dynamic process.
Senator Fairbairn: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Senator Mahovlich: The Olympic Oval in Vancouver was built out of pine
beetle wood that was from a very sick forest up in Northern Alberta, I believe,
and British Columbia. Would you have certified this wood?
Ms. Becker: I do not believe that wood, specifically, was
FSC-certified but pine-beetle-damaged wood can be certified if it came from a
forest that has been FSC-certified. In B.C. and in Alberta, where most of this
wood comes from, in the forest management standards FSC has in those regions,
they set requirements for how much wood can be taken off an FSC-certified
forest. When many trees are killed because of the pine beetle, companies would
like to take a higher volume of wood, but FSC does not allow a higher volume to
be taken off those forests than has been identified within forest management
plans as ecologically and scientifically appropriate. If there is
pine-beetle-killed wood in an FSC forest, it can be taken out and certified but,
according to FSC standards, the company cannot overharvest just because it is
Senator Mahovlich: Are there other uses for that wood?
Ms. Becker: Yes, there are many uses for that wood. As long as it is
cut in time, it can be used in furniture. I have seen it in hardwood flooring,
and it is quite beautiful. It can be used structurally. The wood itself is sound
if it is cut prior to the tree dying, but it has a purple-blue tinge to it.
Mr. Johnson: You have a year to get it off the stump, from what I
understand, and after that, it is very limited.
Senator Mahovlich: Many plants and mills have closed throughout
Canada, and in Northern Ontario, in particular. When these companies leave, do
the provinces look after and manage the forests on those properties?
Ms. Becker: Do you mean when the mills leave?
Senator Mahovlich: Yes, I do.
Mr. Johnson: Every province has always owned the forest resource. The
mill has received a licence to extract or harvest a certain percentage of wood,
according to government guidelines, provided the mill has met all the government
criteria. A mill is a lessee, and it is leasing the wood. When a mill shuts
down, the government still owns and holds that wood, and it will hang on to it
until either the mill is able to restart or another mill in another jurisdiction
is able to open or expand its capacity and take it on. However, when a mill
closes, the wood is still standing, viable, ready to go to market and be used,
but it is sort of in limbo until there is there is another user of the wood.
However, the owner of the wood, namely, the provincial government, is looking
The Chair: We are mindful that consumer culture has changed, and I
think it is evident that consumers 40 years and younger are mindful of the
impact of products on the environment. Am I right in making that statement?
Ms. Becker: I think that is, increasingly, the case. I do not think
that it is everybody. I do not think it is all youth, but it is a rapidly
growing segment. As governments start taking more action toward climate change,
as will be required, that awareness will grow. Youth growing up today are
learning about climate change. They are learning about the impacts that the
industrial age has had on the earth, and they are much more aware and
knowledgeable about it than we were when I was growing up even. That will
continue as those youth now in school reach the workforce and the stage at which
they are able to start consuming products.
Mr. Johnson: I would say that they are very aware and very conscious
of the impact they are having on the environment. It is increasing, growing and
building. If I do not put something in the recycling bin, my children just about
go crazy on me. At the same time, our society and youth dispose a great deal in
other ways. For example, they go through material products quickly, and things
are not being fixed any more. When the VCR or DVD breaks, it is out, and we get
a new one. There is a need to be able to demonstrate the environmental impact in
the life cycle of a product, from the point of origin to the point of disposal.
That is for all consumer products, I would propose. The youth in the future will
have to manage and deal with the life cycle of all products, from the point of
origin to the point of disposal.
Mr. Gauvin: You are right in believing that younger generations will
worry about the environment more than we did in the past when we had the
impression that the planet would provide us with resources forever. However, the
forest sector involves a particular risk. Whether we are talking about forest
certification or about recycling, a large majority of young people see cutting
down a tree as something negative. Young people do not differentiate between a
logged uncertified forest and certified wood, or sustainable forest management
and just plain management. I have visited elementary schools, I have spoken with
professors and other people, and this is the perception out there. Some
advertisements by forest companies that will remain unnamed even broadcast the
message that we must save our trees. They say that our trees need to be saved.
However, this message mobilizes young people. They have expressed some concerns,
and I can understand that. They even recycle.
In a country like Canada, the education system should focus on the forestry
issue and on forest management. You talked about this earlier and you are
completely right. Cutting down trees has become almost unacceptable. We should
address this perception.
The Chair: With respect to the mandate of our committee, utilization
of more wood, previous witnesses have shared their opinion with us about
non-residential construction. One of the senators on the committee asked earlier
whether the two organizations should merge.
No doubt you are aware of LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design. Do you have any comments?
I personally support certification. We see it at Rona, it will be at Home
Depot, and it will be at Lowe's, which is now penetrating Canada. They are big
in the U.S. I stopped in at Lowe's last Saturday to see their wood products. A
lot of their supply is from Canada. When I asked the general manager if he could
give me the traceability of his wood, plus the certification of that wood,
because I want to buy certified wood, it was evident they had these information
kits and it is precise and reliable.
Coming back to LEED, we are looking at a mandate that would help industry
increase wood consumption. Do you have any comments? With your organizations,
could LEED be an activator to increase utilization of wood throughout world and
Ms. Becker: The LEED green building rating system has been a great
initiative for raising awareness of what is green building and what elements,
technologies and materials within a building help make that building more energy
efficient, water efficient, fewer VOCs — volatile organic compounds — better air
quality and more sustainable. In terms of awareness, providing markets for new
technologies and materials, the green building initiatives such as LEED or
BREEAM out of the U.K. are incredibly important for doing that. They are
creating markets for products for which there may not have been a robust market
The LEED green building rating system has one of their credits or points that
a building can earn dedicated to the use of FSC-certified wood products.
However, it is one point within a total of seventy possible points. The
weighting of the rating system does not recognize the larger value of using wood
within the building. I would like to see all of the rating systems have a
greater recognition of the value of wood products, and also providing greater
access for Canadian forest companies by recognizing FSC-certified wood products,
because Canada is a world leader in that certification realm. All of those green
building systems, increasing the recognition of wood and increasing the
recognition of certified wood, helps our industry as well.
The Chair: I also want to recognize that you are an accredited
professional with LEED.
Ms. Becker: Yes, I am a LEED accredited professional.
Mr. Johnson: From the green building perspective, I share the view
that, whether LEED or BREEAM or the other green building certifications, the
directions they use and support for certified wood products from all
certification programs greatly enhances the Canadian forest industry.
Unfortunately, with LEED, for a number of years they have been asked, lobbied,
proposed to open up their wood credit system. Currently, it only accepts FSC,
and they have not been able to provide a strong valid opinion as to why it is
only FSC that they are able to accept. They have been lobbied by industry, by
politicians, by U.S. governors, by many, and there is a very long list, but the
LEED program, the U.S. Green Building Council, will not change that LEED credit
and acceptance of FSC. We continue to believe that the LEED program should open
up beyond FSC and look at other certification programs.
Mr. Gauvin: We may think that green building implies the use of wood
products, but, unfortunately, that is not the case. We have talked about the
LEED standard, which is the best known green building rating system. In 2010,
the British Columbian agency FII, which stands for Forestry Innovation
Investment, conducted a study on the 18 leading environmental product
certification standards in the world. The study confirmed that wood is taken
into consideration very little or not at all. In people's minds, green building
means energy conservation. Too much emphasis is placed on the materials used.
Wood could play an important role. The industry has a lot of work ahead if it
wants to change prevalent attitudes regarding wood use.
Senator Robichaud: When you are in the process of certifying a
company, do you take into account the biomass that remains unused in certain
production processes? Does that consideration play a part in your decision?
Ms. Becker: Right now, within FSC's forest management standards, there
are requirements, for ecological reasons, for what you leave back on the ground
in the forest, such as woody debris in order to regenerate and increase the
health of that forest. There is biomass coming from forests that is
FSC-certified, and it is being used as a mechanism for that. There is not a
specific element within the standards addressing biomass, but that is something
that FSC is looking at. All of our regional forest management standards have to
be revised every five years to take into account new topics, initiatives and
concerns that have been raised, and biomass is one of the things we will be
looking at specifically when we start revision of our standards next year.
Senator Robichaud: You say that will be looked at, so it is not being
looked at now.
Ms. Becker: Right now, biomass is fibre coming out of a forest. It can
be FSC-certified as going into mills being used for energy, but there is not a
specific element within the FSC forest management standard that says what you
must do if you are managing a forest specifically for biomass. The FSC standard
would apply regardless, but when we do our revisions of our forest management
standards, we will likely have a technical committee looking specifically at
whether there is anything we need to change in our forest management standards
in order to address that issue better.
Mr. Johnson: The non-commercial aspects of the forest products coming
out, the pieces of the trees that are left in the woods to maintain the nutrient
capacity of the woods, are being left in there. That is part of it. As we emerge
into new markets and new opportunities for forest products, many products are
being pelletized and used in energy or biodiesel and bioenergy creation. These
types of areas are being looked at now within SFI to have certified pellets to
be coming out, or certified raw material going into biodiesel refinery types of
activity. It is being looked at, it is current, and it will be a major piece
going forward into the future.
Senator Robichaud: Will this take into account the percentage that has
to be left on the ground to ensure that it is sustainable?
Ms. Becker: For FSC, most definitively.
Mr. Johnson: The nutrient capacities have to be respected.
Senator Robichaud: Do you have a comment, Mr. Gauvin?
Mr. Gauvin: Not on this topic.
Senator Robichaud: Could certification have an adverse effect on
Canadian industries? Are all products entering Canada checked for certification?
If products are not certified, who stops them from entering and where is this
done? Meanwhile, we are pushing our producers to become certified. Is this an
issue to be looked into?
Mr. Gauvin: You say we, but customers are the ones demanding
certification. Customers are the ones being pressured on the markets by their
own clients, the consumers of the end products. The consumers are the ones
applying pressure. The governments are not involved in this.
The Government of Canada is monitoring certain activities, but only when it
comes to things like phytosanitary standards, and so on. I am talking about
standards that have been implemented for products entering Canada. However, the
government is not monitoring forest certification. It was said in the
introduction earlier that, until further notice, forest certification and
chain-of-custody certification are the private sector's responsibility. These
are initiatives undertaken by companies in response to what is happening on the
Senator Robichaud: Thank you.
Mr. Johnson: It is a voluntary marketplace. There are no regulatory
Ms. Becker: I will echo that and say Canadian companies have a
benefit. The strong regulation in provincial requirements for forest management
has made it easier for the Canadian forest industry to become FSC-certified,
than in some of the tropical regions where lower forestry standards mean there
is a much bigger gap that companies must reach in order to become FSC-certified.
The Canadian industry has already had a step ahead and that has given them an
advantage, which is one of the reasons we are a world leader.
Senator Eaton: To carry on with what Senator Robichaud started, do you
not think that there is such a lack of education?
Mr. Gauvin, you talked about young people not wanting to cut down trees.
We went to plastic bags. You are all old enough to remember when you went to
the supermarket you got paper bags and then using paper was a concern. We are
cutting down trees, how terrible, let us have plastic bags.
Do you not agree that, along with certification, one of the best things you
can do — and I remember asking the representatives from Greenpeace when they
were here — is educate Canadian consumers that buying Canadian wood products is
a good thing? You all have your three different marks on wood products. Do you
not think you should try to go into schools and start educating young people
that wood is a good thing, to look for the mark you saw on the box you showed
I am sure to pick up on Senator Plett's question to you, Mr. Johnson. I did
not know that. I am a big promoter of wood products. I did not know to look for
that on a package. Yes, we are used to looking at recycled paper, we know that,
but I believe from all facets of the forest industry, from listening to all of
you over the last nine months, there seems to be a lack of educating Canadians.
For too long it was too easy, we would just cut, sell, cut, sell, build, but I
think we have to become as smart as the concrete and steel industries have over
the years in selling. I think personally, and I do not know how you feel about
it, you should be out there not only certifying forests but educating the next
Mr. Johnson: It is educating the next consumers, but it is also
educating the resource managers in the future because there is a vast amount of
knowledge that needs to be shared with the consumer so that they are able to
make these choices. Cutting down a forest that is being regenerated is okay. We
have been doing it for hundreds of years. The forest industry has built our
hospitals, it has built our highways, it has built our infrastructure in this
country, and we shy away from it. We are almost embarrassed of our forest past.
When you talk to people in Southern Ontario and tell them you are a forester,
they are shocked. Where are the forest managers of the future going to be
regardless of what the forest sector will look like? The forestry enrolment at
our colleges and universities is very much on the downhill slide because people
are just terrified to go into that type of a sector, that type of profession.
Senator Eaton: Do you think your certification would have more value
if more people were educated as to what it meant? If you look at the oil sands
right now, they have 30-second spots. Why are you not doing 30-second spots
saying this is a well-maintained forest, this is how they do it in other
countries, buy our products and look for our certification?
Mr. Johnson: We are trying. You probably have been through Toronto in
the path system underground, under all of the towers. We have posters there. It
is passing tens of thousands of people communicating this is what sustainable
forestry is, this is what our logos are, look at them. These types of
advertisements are happening, they are going on out there, but it is a large
population to try and change and, unfortunately, because of the impact of some
powerful movements, some powerful campaigns, it is a large-viewed opinion that
has to be changed and moved. It is a big mountain to move because there has been
a lot of serious damage done about Canada's forest industry by external forces.
Ms. Becker: I most definitely agree with you and say that, one of our
major challenges and something we definitely need to do, is educate people about
the importance of our forests and the value of the Canadian forest industry to
Canada as a whole. One of the challenges we face is that, as a national
organization for FSC, the country with the largest FSC certification in the
world, our annual budget is less than $400,000 a year. We are a non-profit
charity. We barely have the resources to even embark upon such an initiative.
I would turn the question around and say we need to look at our education
system, and look at the education streams within elementary schools and high
schools, and ask why in Ontario, for example, in the 1990s we took out the
environmental stream. Just as our environmental concerns were growing and the
impact of them was going to be more important, we removed the focus on that. We
need to look at the educational materials, we need to look at our curriculums
and ask where does talking about our forests come into the history of Canada and
the wars that happen? Why are we not talking about our industries and look at
that as well? It is something that most certainly the certification systems need
to be embarking upon, but we need to be building that into the fabric of what we
teach Canadians about what Canada is.
Senator Plett: I want to echo, first, what Senator Eaton said. I
believe education is the consumer — the consumer needs to be educated. What the
concrete and steel industries have done is educated consumers, because if
consumers drive it then it will happen.
Senator Fairbairn talked about David Suzuki. Everybody has their own opinions
of David Suzuki, but one thing David Suzuki has done, or is capable of doing, is
many of the people who have been doing the protesting listen to David Suzuki. He
should be out there telling people it is okay to cut down trees.
One of the organizations that supports you is WWF; who is that?
Ms. Becker: The World Wildlife Fund of Canada.
Senator Plett: We talked about cutting close to waterways. You talked
about the fact that there are regulations about building roads into the forest,
and so on and so forth, in order to be certified. Roads are a provincial
jurisdiction. Do you have conflicts with provinces? Do they sometimes build
roads in such a manner that would prohibit you from certifying the forest
because of the way the road has been built; would that ever happen?
Ms. Becker: We have had situations in Quebec, I believe, where the
company builds a road in order to go in and harvest the lands, but in provincial
requirements, once a road is built it must be maintained and kept open, whereas
the FSC standards require that, if you have gone in for harvesting in order to
facilitate the regeneration and for ecological reasons, you should close that
road and get out of that area in order to allow it to regenerate. There have
been those conflicts that have come into play, yes.
Senator Plett: If the province does not close the road or does not
demand the road be closed, would you then not certify that forest?
Ms. Becker: When those situations come up, a conflict between the FSC
standards and government regulations or something outside the control of the
company that is looking to be certified, each of those is looked at on a
case-by- case basis. In this situation I am talking about, what was decided was
that it was something the company could not control. They could not close their
roads if they were required to by law by the owner of those forests and they did
become certified anyways.
One of the main principles of FSC is also that you have to abide by the laws
of the country or the province within which you work.
Senator Plett: Would SFI be similar?
Mr. Johnson: It would be similar. Fifteen years ago when the standards
started, there were a few disconnects around water crossings, around road
construction and around visual aspects, but over time those differences have
been reconciled so there is good consistency now between provincial and federal
requirements and the requirements of the standards. We do not see nearly as
often that disconnect or misalignment.
Senator Plett: As a closing comment, Ms. Becker talked about the
issues she has with funding. FSC is a non-profit organization. I again want to
reiterate one of the comments I made earlier: If we all joined forces and became
one certification group, we might have enough funds to do the education we need.
Thank you for your presentations.
The Chair: In closing, witnesses, thank you very much for sharing your
knowledge and also your professionalism with us. The committee is very
appreciative and, on this, I declare the meeting adjourned.