Image by Ben+Sam

In an earlier post, attention was drawn to the importance of Canada’s Boreal forests to its climate change strategy. As of May 2010, Canada signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, this was a voluntary agreement between companies (21 member FPAC) and Environmental organizations that account for two thirds of Canada’s entire Boreal forest. The agreement commits (Pew Trust has an overview here) companies FPAC (Forest Products Association of Canada) to develop and implement a framework by December 2010.

Among the more impressive figures are that 170 million hectares will be covered by the agreement and a 3 year moratorium on logging covering 29 million acres of Boreal forest, to allow endangered species to recover.

Set out in a set of 6 goals which includes: commitment to a framework of eco-management for the forest as whole, a network of protected areas that will protect the full range of diversity in Canada’s ecosystem, including allowing endangered species to recover such as Boreal Caribou. Reducing Greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain of producers and improving the prosperity of communities that rely on the Canadian forests.

The move was trumpeted by the Canadian Government as a successful example of enlightened stakeholder leadership, Environment Minister Jim Prentice issue the following statement:

“As Minister of the Environment, I welcome the signing of this collaborative agreement between forest sector companies and environmental groups, which represents significant progress for the conservation and sustainable use of the Boreal forest of Canada. I am pleased that the agreement has goals that will help the federal government to implement our interests related to conservation of species at risk.”

Such a reaction is not surprising, governments are delighted that industry and environmental groups can work together to achieve conservation aims combined with a commercial aspect, particularly conservative governments that eschew regulatory measures.

The reaction was not simply shared by the Government, with Pew Environment group quoted in the BBC as reacting positively:

” ‘There is a recognition that this is how forestry will be done in the 21st Century, and there’s a great interest in getting ahead of the rest of the industry,’ Mr Kallick told BBC News.

However it remains to be seen, whether this agreement will actually provide a template for other countries. Countries such as Indonesia and Brazil have far more complex commercial structures with different incentives to the Canadian industry. Furthermore the relatively advanced state of commercial and environmental groups in Canada allows monitoring to be easier. Forests provide a classic case of a collective action problem, where even when its in everyone’s long term interests to ration resource appropriation, without effective monitoring and sanctioning collectively agreed upon, parties also have an incentive to appropriate more than their fair share. Such problems are endemic in poorer countries that lack the resources to effectively monitor problems such as deforestation.

Nevertheless, the positives should not be ignored and that a developed country such as Canada has proven its willing to take responsible steps to turn its forests into sustainably managed resources may significantly aid the UN in their efforts to persuade poorer countries to follow suit.

Finally, my apologies, the Canadian part of this site has been somewhat overlooked recently as academic pressures came to a head. I can safely say that period is over and that over the next few weeks a stream of posts updating readers on the current state of Canadian Climate Change issues.

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