Rainforest Solutions Project

Promoting conservation and economic alternatives in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest


Global Forest and Paper Summit:  Bottom Line vs Conservation

June 3, 2005

(Vancouver, BC) – A clash of forest values is evident in Vancouver this week. Forest and paper executives from around the world here for the Global Forest and Paper Summit 2005 are interested in opening markets and increasing trade. Forest conservationists and activists care about a reduction in logging old growth and a halt to plantings of genetically modified trees. Both groups claim to care about sustainability and the environment.

Over 600 senior forest and paper industry executives from 27 countries are focused on challenges for the industry in the period to 2015. More than 50 CEOs from 17 countries representing some of the world’s largest forest and paper companies are attending the conference with the theme of Delivering the Bottom Line.

Industry associations from six countries – Australia, Canada, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and the United States – are urging trade negotiators to focus on delivering a major opening of world wood and paper markets through the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Development Agenda.
A delegation representing the forest and paper industry associations will be in Geneva next week to press the industry’s case directly to government negotiators and the WTO. For the first time the delegation includes observers from the Malaysian Timber Council and the confederation of European Paper Industries.

“Our aim is simple. We want a positive outcome for our sector from the Doha negotiations,” said Stephen Jacobi, chief executive of the New Zealand Forest Industries Council.

“That means above all eliminating tariffs and meaningful action to address nontariff barriers in our sector. Our industries need this to expand output and jobs and to continue making the enormous economic, social and environmental contribution on which our countries depend.”

Forest Products Association of Canada President Avrim Lazar said, “Trade liberalization is an opportunity offering enormous benefits in terms of new markets and new uses for wood and paper products, which are often more environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable than competing materials.”

John Hunt, Executive Director of the Paper Manufacturers’ Association of South Africa agreed, adding that, “The Doha Round is about development and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty. This initiative would create greater economic opportunity in developing countries.”

American Forest & Paper Association President and CEO W. Henson Moore urged governments to be ready to take action at the WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong at the end of the year. “Time is running out and the negotiations remain at a delicate stage. Negotiators need to set aside their defensive positions and focus on the benefits of trade liberalization, both for their countries and for the global economy as a whole,” Moore said.

In the streets outside the Westin Bayshore where the forest executives are meeting, hundreds of conservationists and activists from across Canada and the United States rallied Wednesday to demand more forest protection and a shift to ecosystem-based logging practices for all of Canada’s endangered forests and endangered species habitat.

Demonstrators, dressed as caribou, salmon and bears, highlighted the discrepancy between the summit’s message of sustainability and the ongoing, widespread forest destruction occurring across Canada.
“It is ironic that more than 20,000 acres across Canada, an area almost the size of Vancouver, will be logged during this three day forest summit on sustainability,” said Tzeporah Berman, ForestEthics’s program director. “This summit is not about creating real change – it’s a forum for the same empty talk we’ve been hearing for years.”

In British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, five years of collaboration among industry, environmental organizations, First Nations and stakeholders resulted in one of the most innovative packages for forest protection ever presented, including protecting one-third of the region from logging and fully implementing Ecosystem-Based Management. Yet clearcutting continues.

“Most people don’t realize that the forests on the central and north coasts and on Haida Gwaii are rapidly disappearing, despite assurances that they have been ‘saved’,” says Jim Fulton, executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation. “Logging corporations still have a green light to haul out the best old-growth cedar, clear-cut log in salmon watersheds and destroy the habitat of the Kermode bear.”