Has ‘Forest Certification’ in Canada been a failure?


CALGARY, Sept. 9, 2015 /CNW/ – Frontier Centre for Public Policy has released Senior Fellow Elizabeth Nickson’s paper  “The Failures of Forest Certification and the Implications for the Public Wealth of the Canadian North“.

In this paper, Nickson posits that the forest certification movement not only had a devastating effect on the value of the forest industry, there is evidence it has been destructive of the forest biosphere itself. Ms. Nicksons suggests that if the environmental movement is successful in forcing the same model on the pipeline, oil sands, and fracking industries, it is likely to see the same devastating devaluation that the forestry industry suffered.

Canada has 402 million hectares (ha) of forested land. Approximately 211 million ha of this huge forest is under active management. In 2010, the harvest was 142 million m3. This harvest supported a $53 billion industry and 238,560 direct jobs

Nickson suggests that this movement to certification may be presented by environmental lobbyists as a “solution to public unrest” but if successful will occur at a time when Canada needs to grow its economy to “meet its debt and unfunded liabilities, particularly those of universal health care and the aging population”. This unfunded liability (no funds have been set aside) is calculated to be $2.8 trillion if nothing were done.

Forest certification in Canada requires root-and-branch reform so that the benefits from Canada’s public forests are captured by Canadians, not activists, not ENGOs, not foundations seemingly acting in the public good, and the strong feelings of the not-fully-informed urban elite, notes Nickson.

While reform is occurring, a serious look at the machinations of so called civil society65, which acted in concert to alienate Canadian resources from Canadians in the service of poorly defined ideals, must take place.

“No sector of the economy is immune to oversight, criticism and vigorous reform, and given the masterful creation of an organizational field that supports forest certification, there has been little dispassionate examination of the work of the many organizations that are now steering the agenda in much of Canada’s forested lands.”

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The report concludes that the broad failures of forest certification, the failure of the process to improve the well-being of local economies, the failure of the process to maximize the economic benefit of the forest for Canadians and the failure of the process to properly tend to the forests, must be taken into account when considering the future of the energy and extractive industries of the North.

These failures must not be repeated, says the report, and Canadians must not allow seemingly well-meaning ENGOs and foundations to guide the future of those resources. “Politicians, industrialists in the private sector and bureaucrats must be able to make decisions without the shrill demagoguery invented and used with power and effect during Canada’s forest battles. Such conflict and polarization have markedly harmed the public good.”

Elizabeth Nickson is an accomplished communicator, journalist, author and novelist. Her bio includes postings as European Bureau Chief of Life Magazine, a reporter for Time Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, The Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator (UK), Saturday Night, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and Harper’s Magazine. She has interviewed world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, and the Dalai Lama.

Elizabeth Nickson’s “The Failures of Forest Certification and the Implications for the Public Wealth of the Canadian North can be found here: Elizabeth Nickson: Failures of Forest Certification…

About the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is an innovative research and education charity registered in both Canadaand the United States. Founded in 1999 by philanthropic foundations seeking to help voters and policy makers improve their understanding of the economy and public policy, our mission is to develop ideas that change the world.

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