Resolute Forest Products Can Save Forests and Jobs and Respect Indigenous Rights
The largest logging company in Canada, Resolute Forest Products is responsible for the destruction of vast areas of Canada’s magnificent Boreal forest, damaging critical woodland caribou habitat and logging without the consent of impacted First Nations. Greenpeace is urging the company to work with us, other environmental organisations, First Nations, and workers and unions to resolve these issues and ensure a healthy future for Canada’s Boreal Forest.
- Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec
- Incorporated: Delaware
- CEO: Richard Garneau (since January 1, 2011)
- No. mills and locations: 30 in Canada, 8 in the United States and 1 in South Korea
- Products: pulp, book, magazine, catalogue and junkmail papers, flyers and newsprint, lumber, telephone directory paper (white pages)
- Countries sold in: 80 including United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, China, India, Korea
- 2014 sales: $4.5 billion
- Long term debt: $596 million
- Share price March 3, 2014: $20.12
- Share price June 3, 2015: $11.79
- Largest shareholders: Fairfax Financial, Steelhead Partners
- Employee pension plans: “Significant underfunded” (Moody’s June 4, 2015)
- No. of Employees 2007: 18,000
- No. of Employees 2014: 7,700
- No. FSC certificates suspended or terminated: 4 covering over 8 million hectares of forest
What’s the problem?
Resolute’s forestry practices are cause for concern on a multitude of fronts.
Logging in Endangered Forests, destroying woodland caribou habitat
The company is operating in and sourcing wood from Endangered Forests in Ontario and Quebec. In the Montagne Blanches Endangered Forest in Quebec, their ongoing destruction of caribou habitat flies in the face of the Quebec government’s Chief Forester’s reporting that caribou herds in Quebec are at risk of extinction, with over 92% of their habitat in the region already too degraded to allow caribou to prosper. Further, he has stated that if current logging trends continue, there will be no remaining critical caribou habitat at all in the region within decades.
In Northwestern Ontario, Resolute manages vast lands in the Trout Lake-Caribou Endangered Forest. Here, where the Brightsand caribou herd roams, Canadian federal government scientists have concluded that the forest is becoming too degraded, jeopardizing the future of this herd.
In Quebec in the Montagnes Blanches Endangered Forest, more than 1.2 million hectares of intact forests has been degraded from 2001 to 2013.
Escalating conflicts with First Nations communities
Resolute has conflicts with some First Nations communities and these are escalating. In April 2015, the Cree Nation Government issued a formal notice to the company, calling for a halt to the company’s logging in their traditional territories which include the Montagnes Blanches Endangered Forest. In September 2014, the Atikamekw declared sovereignty on their Nation’s lands, prompted in part because of destructive logging operations on their traditional territory.
Losing Forest Stewardship Council certificates
Since January 2014, and unprecedented worldwide, Resolute has had four Forest Stewardship Council certificates covering more than 8 million hectares of forest suspended or terminated. That’s an area larger than New Brunswick/the state of Maine, and about the size of the country of Austria. In Quebec, against FSC standards, the company has failed to adequately preserve old growth forests areas, work collaboratively with stakeholders and achieve consent for operations from some First Nations’ communities. Independent auditors further concluded that there is “a high risk to the extirpation of caribou herds” in the Montagnes Blanches and that the company has already carried out work in “key habitats”, crucial areas for ensuring caribou survival. Resolute also failed to demonstrate that “the value of forest will be maintained through time.”
To prevent the release of an independent FSC audit of its own operations in Ontario, the company sued globally respected FSC auditor Rainforest Alliance. Rather than participate in formal dispute resolution processes set up within FSC, one legal expert noted that Resolute’s “strategy appears to be, not to engage Rainforest Alliance on the facts, but rather to suppress these facts.”
Meanwhile, Resolute’s relationship with the Canadian environmental community has hit rock bottom. The company is suing Greenpeace and two of its staff for $7 million in an attempt, we believe, to silence the organization and our campaign. Seven other environmental groups refuse to work with Resolute, citing the company’s unwillingness to do even “the minimum” required by science to ensure the survival of caribou.
Solutions to save forests and jobs exist
Though challenging, the pathway to resolving these disputes is straightforward. Resolute must take tangible action to respect Indigenous rights, save jobs, and conserve forests. Resolute should:
Suspend logging in Endangered Forests to allow science-based conservation planning to take place. One outcome of this planning will be habitat set aside for caribou to ensure their survival.
Take a stand by publically supporting large scale, legislated protected areas.
Fix shortcomings in their FSC forestry certifications and regain lost certificates.
Adopt free prior and informed consent as the basis for engaging with First Nations.
Work with environmental organizations, unions and communities to ensure jobs are sustained.
Resolute has a choice: to continue to invest in PR campaigns and lawsuits, or to take real action to conserve Canada’s Boreal Forest and give communities and workers a fair shake. We believe Resolute has the ability to one day become a true leader in the forestry industry. Greenpeace and others are here to help.
Good deeds get rewarded.
There are many tangible benefits for businesses that embrace principles of strong community engagement and environmental protection, not least of which is increased access to a multi-billion dollar global market for forest products.
Some of the world’s largest global brands are committed to only purchasing products that safeguard Endangered Forests and/or come with the Forest Stewardship Council stamp of approval – these include Kimberly-Clark, 3M, Office Depot, Rona, Ikea and Procter & Gamble.
Richard Gillies, Group Sustainability Director for Kingfisher, one of the world’s largest DIY retailers, recently spoke at the FSC’s 20th anniversary General Assembly to launch a business collaboration aimed at getting even more FSC-certified wood into the market:
“Our forests are fighting for their lives. As a human being I care about the environmental and the social impacts that is having, but as a retailer I also understand the devastating impacts of supply insecurity. We believe business can be a force for good in keeping forests standing…”
Sales of FSC-certified products continues to grow. According to the 2014 FSC Global Market Survey, more than 80 per cent of respondents reported increased or steady sales between July 2013 and June 2014, with many claiming that “FSC is a valuable tool for reaching potential markets and clients.”
When companies threaten people and the planet, Greenpeace exposes them. But when we see them deliver effective solutions – like protection of Endangered Forests and FSC certification – we promote them publicly and to the global marketplace. Greenpeace goes to great lengths to remain independent, never accepting money from companies or governments or political parties. When global customers ask Greenpeace’s opinion - as they often do - they trust that we will point them towards a responsible sources. Companies that do the right thing deserve to be rewarded with better market access.”
Resolute is attempting to silence Greenpeace through a $ 7 million lawsuit
Resolute launched a lawsuit against Greenpeace Canada and two of its staff, in May 2013, following the publication of a Greenpeace report about the company’s sustainability practices and promises. We believe that Resolute is pursuing this lawsuit in order to silence Greenpeace’s work to expose what is happening in the Boreal Forest. They’ve even lobbied against proposed legislation in Ontario that would ban these types of meritless lawsuits.
Greenpeace stands by its campaign as accurate and truthful and defends its campaign as fair comment based on true facts concerning important matters of public interest: the environmental, social and economic impact of Canada’s largest forestry company operating in the Boreal forest.
Click here to read our full Statement of Defense or read the summary version.
Take a #Stand For Forests
Tens of thousands of people from around the world are taking a #StandForForests – joining together to call on Resolute to save jobs, respect Indigenous rights and conserve forests and caribou habitat. Join them at StandForForests.ca and make your voice heard.