Tree-huggers and loggers bury hatchet
A truce appears to be at hand in the long-running war in the woods.
Canada's largest forest firms and most outspoken environmental groups are in the final stages of a precedent-setting deal to co-operatively manage a massive swath of boreal forest that has sections in Quebec, Alberta and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia.
The initial three-year deal will effectively freeze all logging in selected regions in exchange for a halt to international marketing campaigns against Canadian products by environmental groups such as Greenpeace.
Environmentalists also would give their green stamp of approval to Canada's logging practices.
The land in question is an estimated 70 million hectares of boreal forest.
The land mass equals the total amount of forest lost globally between 1990 and 2005.
Sources close to the landmark talks say the Forest Products Association of Canada, whose members are responsible for 66 per cent of certified forest lands in the country, are in negotiations with senior members of environmental groups with the aim of reaching a deal by the end of the month.
Association members include Cariboo Pulp & Paper Company, Tolko Industries Ltd., Weyerhaeuser, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Ltd. Partnership, and Kruger Inc.
Canwest News Service has learned a draft agreement is expected to be voted on today, the result of which is expected to set a blueprint for a green revolution in the country.
If passed, the deal would effectively bring to an end the battles in forests that have raged in parts of the country since the late 1980s.
It also could boost the attractiveness of Canadian products on the global market, as they bask in the glow of new-found eco-approval.
Sources said logging companies will stay out of the protected areas in exchange for environmental groups embracing logging practices in other areas.
The environmental groups also will gain access to caribou habitat for study as part of the deal, which will include large sections of forest in Alberta and Quebec, sources said.
The Forest Products Association of Canada declined to offer details of the pending deal other than to confirm talks were under way.
"There are currently talks under way related to numerous complex areas of mutual interest between forest-industry companies and a number of environmental non-governmental organizations," the association said in a statement.
"We hope to have a joint statement in this regard within the next two weeks."
Bruce Lourie, president of the Ivey Foundation, a Toronto-based charitable foundation that offers funding to conservation groups, said he was unable to discuss details of the talks.
He did, however, confirm conversations were under way. "We are really not supposed to be talking about it in any detail," he said. "If all goes well, it will be a positive outcome for forest conservation."
A spokesperson for Greenpeace said: "There is no agreement, but we will let you know when there is an agreement."