NATIONAL ABORIGINAL FORESTRY ASSOCIATION
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In 1993, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) initiated a process to develop criteria and indicators for sustainable management of Canada's forests. This initiative was undertaken to fulfill commitments made in the National Forest Strategy and the UNCED Forest Principles to provide a common understanding of what sustainable forest management means to Canada. The criteria and indicators provide a framework for describing the state of Canada's forests and forest management, and for periodically demonstrating achievements in implementing sustainable forest management. Among other goals, criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management are intended to:
In March of 1995, the CCFM released Defining Sustainable Forest Management: A Canadian Approach to Criteria and Indicators, outlining six criteria, each with a set of indicators. The six sustainable forest management criteria are:
In the Canadian approach, Aboriginal issues are identified as indicators 6.1 Aboriginal and treaty rights and 6.2 Participation by Aboriginal communities in sustainable forest management under Criterion 6. Aboriginal indicators therefore become part of forest management activity and the unique or special needs of Aboriginal people must be reflected. Where appropriate, Aboriginal and treaty rights must be provided for, Aboriginal people must benefit from forest use and the allocation of resources must be made in a fair and equitable way. (See Appendix 1, Defining Sustainable Forest Management: A Canadian Approach to Criteria and Indicators.)
In early 1994, the Canadian forest industry formed a coalition and asked the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) to develop a sustainable forest management (SFM) certification program. (The CSA is the pre-eminent standards-writing body in Canada, having developed standards and certification programs for over 75 years in more than 35 technology fields.) The CSA agreed to the task of developing standards for sustainable forest management through a multi-stakeholder technical committee with representatives from the "forest industry, governments, academics, scientists, technical experts, and non-governmental, environmental and Aboriginal organizations" (Canadian Standards Association Z808, 1996). The National Aboriginal Forestry Association (NAFA) was the only Aboriginal organization with representation on the Technical Committee and NAFA has cautioned the CSA about giving the impression that it has more Aboriginal involvement than is actually the case (see Appendix 2, NAFA letter of March 15, 1996 to CSA).
The CSA approach was to develop standards to certify a "system" rather than a product, that is to certify that the forest management system used by a forest company has met the CSA SFM standards. Once the standards have been met, certification would be used to assure consumers that the wood used to manufacture the goods they buy is derived from forest operations managed in an environmentally sound and sustainable way.
In establishing goals and indicators of sustainable forest management, the CSA SFM system has adopted the CCFM criteria and indicators as a starting point for developing a "value set" at a local or forest management unit level. The six Canadian criteria must be followed in the CSA system, with some flexibility for developing indicators at the local level through public participation.
Two key documents constitute the core of the CSA sustainable forest management certification program. The Z808 Guidance Document gives a general description of the SFM standard and introduces the following elements: commitment, public participation, management framework and continual improvement. The Z809 Auditor's Specification Document outlines the requirements of a forest manager or owner seeking to register a defined forest area (DFA) and the audit procedures to be used by a Registration Organization (RO) to determine whether the forest manager or owner's SFM System and the DFAs meet the registration requirements.
The process for obtaining certification under the CSA SFM system requires that the owner or manager of a DFA be audited in four broad areas:
To begin the process, the forest owner or manager must indicate total commitment to sustainable forest management for a DFA. In the case of a forest company, the owner or manager may be the General Manager; the commitment could be in the form of a directive and policy statements from the Board of Directors; and the DFA could be the licensed area(s) for which the company has forest management responsibility.
An open process for public input must be in place to identify local indicators, values and objectives for a DFA. Aboriginal participation is included and must be provided for in this context. Z808 states: "Aboriginal forest users and communities require particular consideration in the SFM System, given their long-standing and intimate economic, cultural and spiritual connection with forests. Moreover, Aboriginal status is unique and should be reflected in the public participation process." Z808 also stipulates that "public participation processes require that both financial and human resources be sufficient to match the selected process."
Z808 describes more fully the requirements for Aboriginal participation:
"The CSA SFM System recognizes that Canadian forests are of a special significance for the Aboriginal people whose lifestyles, culture and religious beliefs are closely tie to the sustainability of the forest system. It further recognizes that they possess special knowledge and insights concerning forest sustainability derived from their traditional practices and experience.
The Aboriginal people who have interest in or are impacted by forest management in a DFA must be given an opportunity to participate in the public consultation process and input their special knowledge to the process of setting values, criteria, indicators and objectives."
The components of an SFM System include: preparation; planning; implementation; measurement and assessment; and review and improvement. In preparation, the DFA must be defined, values identified, goals defined, indicators chosen and inventories conducted. In planning, the following procedures must be followed: review current positions; review regulations; evaluate risks; forecast results; and create an SFM plan. In reviewing regulations, forest managers or owners are required to "comply with all applicable legislation and other requirements that relate to ownership, tenures, and rights that apply to the DFA." Z808 states:
"Existing Aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized and affirmed in the Canadian Constitution. Duly established Aboriginal and treaty rights must be identified and respected. The CSA SFM System does not in any way intend to define, interpret, or prejudice ongoing or future negotiations regarding these legal rights."
Implementation of an SFM system requires adequate financial resources and organizational capacity, identification of responsible and accountable individuals and organizations, control procedures for all parts of the SFM plan, documentation of the system and communication about the SFM system both internally and with the public.
To ensure that certification is maintained, the owner or manager must focus on continual improvement within the context of the SFM plan. Comparison of actual to forecasted results is to be used "to improve the performance of both the SFM Plan and the condition of the forest."
Once the owner has fulfilled the above requirements and a Registration Organization has deemed the SFM system (of the owner or manager) to have met the CSA standard, a Certificate of Registration will be issued. The forest owner or manager may then use the certification as a means of promoting and marketing the company's forest products.
The CSA carried out field tests of its SFM System standard described in Z808-96 at six sites across Canada in February-March 1996. The results of these pilots are contained in a Summary Report CSA Field Tests of Z809 Sustainable Forest Management System (Jacques Whitford Environment Ltd., April 15, 1996). The CSA Technical Committee will be reviewing the results of the field tests and public responses to a review of the Z808 and Z809 documents in May 1996. The CSA hopes to have the Technical Committee approve and finalize the draft standard in 1996.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was founded in 1993 (headquartered in Oaxaca, Mexico) "by a diverse group of representatives from environmental institutions, the timber trade, the forestry profession, indigenous peoples' organizations, community forestry groups and forest product certification organizations from 25 countries" (FSC Notes, Summer 1995). The FSC mission is "to support environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests." The FSC hopes to accomplish this goal "by evaluating, accrediting and monitoring certifiers, and by strengthening national certification and forest management capacity through training, education, and the development of certification initiatives." The FSC itself does not certify forest products; it accredits and monitors certifiers.
Through accreditation of certifiers of forest products, the FSC ensures adherence to FSC principles and criteria and to guidelines it will establish on a regional basis for certification. The FSC approach is to certify forest products through a trade mark which requires a "chain of custody" inspection to verify that the finished product is from sustainably managed forests. The objective of FSC certification is to assure consumers that their purchases of forest products do not contribute to the destruction and degradation of the world's forests.
Though FSC certification and development of regional standards has taken place in other countries, in Canada the organization is still in its infancy. On January 9, 1996 a Canadian Working Group of the Forest Stewardship Council was formed. An Interim Steering Committee was formed including delegates representing four "houses": Aboriginal, Economic, Environmental and Social. Each house will have voting rights equivalent to 25%. A Standards Writing Committee was formed to develop regional standards based on ecosystem types. The Committee will concentrate on standards for the Boreal forest, Canada's largest ecosystem, based on established FSC principles, including:
Principle #1: Compliance With Laws and FSC Principles Forest management shall respect all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and international treaties and agreements to which the country is a signatory, and comply with all FSC Principles and Criteria.
Principle #2: Tenure and Use Rights and Responsibilities Long-term tenure and use rights to the land and forest resources shall be clearly defined, documented and legally established.
Principle #3: Indigenous Peoples' Rights The legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories, and resources shall be recognized and respected.
Principle #4: Community Relations and Worker's Rights Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well-being of forest workers and local communities.
Principle #5: Benefits from the Forest Forest management operations shall encourage the efficient use of the forest's multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environmental and social benefits.
Principle #6: Environmental Impact Forest Management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water, resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest.
Principle #7: Management Plan A management plan - appropriate to the scale and intensity of the operations - shall be written, implemented, and kept up to date. The long term objectives of management, and the means of achieving them, shall be clearly stated.
Principle #8: Monitoring and Assessment Monitoring shall be conducted - appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management - to assess the condition of the forest, yields of forest products, chain of custody, management activities and their social and environmental impacts.
Principle #9: Maintenance of Natural Forests Primary forests, well-developed secondary forests and sites of major environmental, social or cultural significance shall be conserved. Such areas shall not be replaced by tree plantations or other land uses.
Principle #10: Plantations Principle #10 was in a draft stage and has recently been finalized. The principle is quite lengthy and can be found in the Canadian Working Group's Document 1.2, revised January 1996. The first paragraph of the principle states:
Plantations shall be planned and managed in accordance with Principles and Criteria 1-9, and Principle 10 and its Criteria. While plantations can provide an array of social and economic benefits, and can contribute to satisfying the world's needs for forest products, they should complement the management of, reduce pressures on, and promote the restoration and conservation of natural forests. The management objectives of the plantation, including natural forest conservation and restoration objectives, shall be explicitly stated in the management plan, and clearly demonstrated in the implementation of the plan.
The Steering Committee of the FSC Canadian Working Group has outlined its functions: Facilitation and coordination of efforts to write FSC standards for the various forest types across Canada; Promote the FSC through education, public debate and the marketing of the FSC logo; Be the principle contact for the Canadian Standards Association for discussions about forest standards in Canada; Establish the procedures for the selection of a permanent steering committee; and Raise funds.
There is no time frame for implementation of these functions, although it is expected that certain regions within Canada will progress more quickly. A representative of the National Aboriginal Forestry Association attended the January 1996 Canadian Working Group meeting and has volunteered to help in the Standards Writing exercise, based on the commitment FSC has made under Principle #3: Indigenous Peoples Rights. This principle has the following sections:
3.1 Indigenous peoples shall control forest management on their lands and territories unless they delegate control with free and informed consent to other agencies.
3.2 Forest management shall not threaten or diminish, either directly or indirectly, the resources or tenure rights of indigenous peoples.
3.3 Sites of special cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance to indigenous peoples shall be clearly identified in cooperation with such peoples, and recognized and protected by forest managers.
3.4 Indigenous peoples shall be compensated for the application of their traditional knowledge regarding the use of forest species or management systems in forest operations. This compensation shall be formally agreed upon with their free and informed consent before forest operations commence.
The FSC, CSA and forest companies are all concerned that their approach to sustainable forest management be compatible with international standards. At the international level, certification could cause substantial problems. If consumers are to use their buying power to influence forest practices, there must be globally consistent standards so that buyers do not shift alliances to countries or companies with weak or non-existent standards. With this in mind, the FSC and the CSA have approached the International Standards Organization (ISO), a worldwide federation of national standards bodies, in attempts to harmonize certification processes and gain ISO recognition. No progress in this regard has been achieved to date although the ISO is developing its own standard for "environmental management systems." The ISO has developed the 14000 series to assist organizations and companies in the assessment and improvement of their environmental performance. The 14000 series publications are expected to be released by the fall of 1996. Both the CSA and FSC are trying to tailor their standards to meet ISO standards so that Canadian standards will gain ISO recognition.
The Pacific Certification Council was formed in 1993 "to promote ecological-responsible forest management and forest product certification for the Pacific Northwest bioregion-from northern California through British Columbia [Cascadia]" (International Journal of Ecoforestry, Winter 1995). Member groups include the Institute for Sustainable Forestry in northern California, Rogue Institute for Ecology and Economy in Oregon, Ecoforestry Institute in Oregon, Ecoforestry Institute Society in BC, and Silva Forest Foundation in British Columbia. All groups were founding members of the Forest Stewardship Council but the Pacific Certification Council has not been accredited by the FSC. Silva Forest Foundation claims Canada's "first wood certification" near Vernon, BC (Greenpeace, 1995) of a 29-hectare (71.5 acres) block in the Currie ridge area near Vernon managed as part of the BC Ministry of Forestry Small Business Program.
The Pacific Certification Council has its own guidelines for certification under the headings: Principles of respectful human relationships with forests; guidelines for respectful forest use; and some prohibited management practices. The wording on protection of indigenous rights is very similar to the FSC's Principle #3:
1.3.1 The customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use, manage and conserve their lands, territories, and resources must be recognised and respected in all forest management plans.
Canadian members of the Pacific Certification Council are also members of the Canada United States Association (CUSA) of the Smart Wood Network, a U.S.-based certification program of the Rainforest Alliance. Through CUSA, the Smart Wood certification program is being brought to British Columbia. The basis of this trans-border cooperation is the belief that regional standards should be based on ecosystems and that the B.C. coastal, temperate rainforests are naturally tied to the rainforests of Oregon and Washington, thus the name "Cascadia" for this "bioregion."
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