We at Greenpeace welcome the June 4, 2008 decision by forest-products giant AbitibiBowater to end its logging operations in the traditional territory of the Grassy Narrows First Nation. We have been supporting the community in its struggle for rights over its traditional lands and have highlighted the Grassy Narrows situation in many of our reports and correspondence with customers of AbitibiBowater. The decision to withdraw from the Whiskey Jack Forest follows a near decade-long campaign by the Grassy Narrows First Nation to suspend industrial logging in the one million hectare forest, near Kenora Ontario.

Greenpeace congratulated AbitibiBowater for announcing an end to logging in this area at their annual shareholder meeting calling it a bold move that shows the global importance of protecting the Boreal Forest and strong recognition of the inspired struggle by the Grassy Narrows First Nation to protect their traditional way of life. We also indicated to CEO David Patterson that while we are hopeful that AbitibiBowater's decision signals a start to further improvements in its environmental and social sustainability and relations with other aboriginal communities, we see this as an important first step in a long road to transforming practices across all the tenures in Ontario and Quebec.

Along with an end to logging, the company suspends purchasing or use of any wood products from the Whiskey Jack Forest for its paper mill in Fort Frances. The decision supports ongoing negotiations between the Ontario government and the First Nation over land rights. The struggle by First Nations for land rights and sovereignty continues across Canada, and the struggle to protect intact forests and the habitat of endangered species remains.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation has campaigned years for an end to logging in their traditional territory. The First Nation has filed lawsuits, conducted a five-year long peaceful blockade of a logging road and asked for an end to industrial use of its area without its free, prior and informed consent. Greenpeace and other environmental and human rights organizations have campaigned on behalf of the community to help build international public and marketplace pressure for a resolution.

Montreal-based Abitibi-Consolidated recently merged with US-based Bowater to form AbitibiBowater, the largest newsprint manufacturer in North America. The formation of a new company provides an opportunity for positive change.  Since the company has many other forest operations in Quebec and Ontario where logging in intact forest areas continues and sustainability has not been achieved, Greenpeace will be encouraging AbitibiBowater looks to these places next.