For workers and for our public forests, Resolute must work to regain its FSC certificates

By the middle of January of next year, Resolute Forest Products will see the termination of four of its FSC certificates in Lac St-Jean, Quebec and Northern Ontario totaling an area of over 8 million hectares of Boreal Forest. The company, which at one time was the largest FSC certified company in the world by area, has had nearly a year to correct its multiple failures to meet the respected Forest Stewardship Council National Boreal Standard. For more than year we have been saying publicly that Greenpeace is ready to help Resolute to do the necessary work to regain their suspended certificates. They have ignored our offers.

Rather than making a concrete effort to regain their FSC certificates, Resolute prefers to blame the government, invest in PR campaigns to restore its reputation, lobby to block better protection of the forest, file a lawsuit against its own auditors and pursued Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certificate which unfortunately has no credibility in the marketplace.

These decisions may be very costly to the hundreds of workers who find themselves impacted by the non-collaborative and regressive direction that Resolute CEO Richard Garneau is taking the company. The good news is that there are still solutions.

Why did Resolute lose its FSC certificates in Lac St-Jean, Quebec?

The independent auditors of Rainforest Alliance hired by Resolute identified 13 major non-compliances with the FSC standard in Lac St-Jean. You can find the two auditors' reports here and here. Here is a brief description of each non-compliance and a suggestion to Resolute that would help them resolve it.

Harvesting too much wood (Principle 5.6) By not including the maintenance of old-growth forests and the identification of protected areas in their assessment of sustainable cut levels Resolute risks cuttings too much wood over and above what the forest can sustainably provide. SOLUTION: Resolute should include safeguards in their calculation of logging levels to prevent an over-exploitation of the forest.

Lack of protection for woodland caribou habitat (Principle 6.2) FSC requires the conservation of the habitat of endangered species, but Resolute has not implemented the precautionary principle in designating where cutting occurs, is increasing fragmentation of key habitat and putting caribou at further risk. SOLUTION: Resolute must avoid logging in critical habitat areas.

Logging plans contribute to the loss of old-growth forest areas (Principle 6.3) Resolute has not ensured adequate levels of old-growth areas in their tenures. SOLUTION: Resolute must ensure a representative proportion of old-growth forests throughout their forestlands.

Protection of high conservation value forests (Principle 9.2): Although Resolute identifies high conservation value forests such as intact forests and woodland caribou habitat, its development plans do not adequately address the conservation of these values. SOLUTION: Avoid logging in sensitive areas.

No process of for conflict resolution with the Innu of Masteuiash (Principle 3.1) Resolute has not set up a resolution process with this Innu community. SOLUTION: Create a conflict resolution process with the Innu.

Lack of support for indigenous peoples to assess the impact of logging on their territory (Principle 3.3): FSC requires the company to assist indigenous peoples to be able to measure the impact of the logging on their traditional territories. Resolute as failed to do so. SOLUTION: Map the impacts of logging on Aboriginal communities in collaboration with the Innu, Cree and Atikamekw.

In their official statement on the suspension of these certificates, Resolute committed to do everything possible to recover these certificates before termination and meet its commitment to achieve FSC certification on 80% of its operations.

With the clock ticking we, and others continue to ask: What has Resolute done to regain their certificates and ensure they are not terminated in January 2015?

Solutions are possible where there is a will

Best Buy's decision to procure only FSC-certified paper from Resolute is a good decision that follows in the footsteps of several other large corporate players who have adopted procurement policies that respect the environment and human rights.

Resolute can point fingers at nearly everyone (including Greenpeace) to explain why it has lost its FSC certificates but in the end, customers, government and First Nations know that the company must look in the mirror. And it should not be workers who pay the price for bad corporate-level decisions.

Solutions are possible.

When the company has given itself a good look in the mirror, we’ll be ready to help it out. And we will do so for workers, First Nations communities, the forest and yes the financial well-being of Resolute Forest Products.