Greenpeace activists occupy world headquarters of logging giant AbitibiBowater

Feature story - September 24, 2008
Greenpeace activists entered the headquarters of AbitibiBowater on the morning of September 24th and chained themselves to the building's entrance to protest the destruction of the Boreal Forest by the logging giant.

While activists disrupted management operations on the 8th floor of the iconic Sun Life building in Montreal, other volunteers demonstrated peacefully outside handing out mock newspapers bearing the headline "AbitibiBowater refuses to protect the Boreal Forest."

The American public consumes significant amounts of the 59 million acres controlled by AbitibiBowater. For more background on US companies selling Boreal Forest destruction, read our report: Consuming Canada's Boreal Forest: The chain of destruction from logging companies to consumers.

Intact forests are vital for maintaining biodiversity, protecting threatened species such as woodland caribou and stabilizing the world's climate. Recent studies have also shown that intact and old growth areas of forest store the largest amount of carbon.

Discussions Went Nowhere

Greenpeace had previously engaged with AbitibiBowater and a mediator on solutions to deforestation of the Boreal, but those talks collapsed when the company stated that they would not stop logging intact forest areas in Québec and Ontario. For many months we believed we were making progress in our discussions and our goal throughout was to develop and agree on a formal and longer term, science-based process to find permanent solutions. Unfortunately AbitibiBowater is not convinced it is important to protect the Boreal Forest.

Read more about the collapse of the negotiations, which happened earlier this month.

AbitibiBowater's record on sustainability

In Greenpeace's view, AbitibiBowater's sustainability record cannot be improved merely through minor changes or isolated environmental measures, as the company recently announced. Extensive action over millions of acres of threatened forest is required for AbitibiBowater to become a sustainable development leader.

"If AbitibiBowater is serious about embracing the cause of sustainability they must suspend logging in intact forest lands in favour of creating protected areas," said Melissa Filion, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace.

Currently, less than three percent of the publicly-owned forest in Quebec controlled by AbitibiBowater is protected. Only 23 per cent of the forestlands in the province remains as large, intact forest landscapes.

Over the past year, Greenpeace's outreach to major AbitibiBowater customers has resulted in losses of over ten million dollars in purchase contracts because of environmental concerns. And Filion says the group is committed to keeping up the pressure on the company: "Today, we are sending a reminder to AbitibiBowater CEO David Paterson that as long as he refuses to protect intact forests, Greenpeace will be there to confront him."

TAKE ACTION>> Tell AbitibiBowater's CEO and VP of Sustainability and Environment to stop destroying the Boreal!