Quarterly and year end results released by logging giant AbitibiBowater today raise serious questions about the direction of the company. By not curbing its destructive logging practices in Canada’s Boreal Forest, AbitibiBowater is taking serious risks on the both the financial and environmental front.
Greenpeace has been in regular communication with a growing number of the large customers of AbitibiBowater and we have heard that they are increasingly concerned about the company’s delay in putting into place ecological solutions. Customer confidence is dropping because AbitibiBowater continues to log in the last remaining intact areas of the Boreal Forest and critical woodland caribou habitat. Customers do not want to be associated with the conflict of a company trashing one of the planet’s most important forests.
AbitibiBowater clients in the paper and lumber sector are beginning to reduce or suspend their purchases. For several months, Greenpeace has been in discussions with AbitibiBowater customers, informing them about to company’s impact on threatened species such as woodland caribou and as well as the intact forest areas in Ontario and Quebec that they depend on. In addition, the company’s ongoing conflict with First Nations communities and its lack of Forest Stewardship Council certification for its products and forestry operations have been highlighted to a growing list of their international customers.
How can the company expect to achieve financial stability if it is losing customers and breaking the law? There is a triple bottom line that AbitibiBowater needs to find.
On February 22, 2008 the government of Québec published a list of the top offenders of the forestry law in the province. AbitibiBowater topped this list. AbitibiBowater was found in violation 77 times and forced to pay over $190 000 in fines.
According to satellite imagery more than 73% of the forestlands under management of AbitibiBowater in Ontario and Quebec have been degraded or fragmented. Greenpeace is demanding the company suspend logging in the remaining intact forest areas and work collaboratively to create an expanded system of protected areas.
The Boreal Forest is the largest ancient forest left in North America and as the largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon on the planet is critical to fighting global climate change. Less than 9% of the forest is protected from industrial development.
With files from Richard Brooks