Environmental Organizations Band Together to Appeal Algonquin Sustainable Forest Certification

Earthroots joined Wildlands League, Forest Ethics, Greenpeace and Ontario Nature in retaining Ecojustice to appeal the Canadian Standards Association Sustainable Forest Management certification of Algonquin Forest Authority (AFA) operations.

Currently, only 22% of Algonquin Park is protected.  The Ontario Parks Board has recommended the expansion of protected areas from 22% to 54% of the park.  And even the Algonquin Forest Authority has recommended that an increase from 22% to 49% is completely possible!

In 1978, the Ministry of Natural Resources made the decision to ban commercial logging in most classes of Ontario’s parks (except for Algonquin).  This move implies that the government believes this practice is not acceptable, and is unsustainable within our protected areas.  Commercial forestry is completely at odds with the fundamental principles of Ontario’s parks and the recently enacted Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act.


The way in which logging is managed within the Algonquin Park, is defined by the Forest Management Plan (FMP), which as referred to in the Independent Forest Audit, states that protection of park values must take precedence over the requirements of forest management.  The fact that true protection, i.e. placing the health of wildlife as the overriding priority, does not exist in Canada’s most visited provincial park, contravenes the unique values that this park holds.

 

Even though policy permits logging in Algonquin Park, the most recent Independent Forest Audit acknowledged that it is controversial.  Because of the potential sensitivity surrounding this subject, there was no review of whether or not logging is an acceptable practice in the park within the scope of the audit.  The notable omission of this consideration by independent auditors and the Algonquin Forest Authority clearly shows that the requirements of these criteria have not been met.

The Canadian Standards Association recognized that it is important for the organization to consider the broader public interest, particularly where decisions are likely to be seen as contentious.  The issue of logging in Algonquin Park is extremely controversial, as exemplified in the Independent Forest Audit, and a range of public opinion research polls.

The other major point that needs to be emphasized is the fact that there has not been a sufficient amount of public participation on the FMP.  In fact, the most recent Algonquin Park Management Plan (1999) had no public participation or review of logging in the park as part of the process.

If protected areas are supposed to uphold a balance between protecting ecosystems and providing sanctuaries for wildlife, while respecting the needs of visitors, public involvement needs to be an essential element in the process of managing these spaces.

During the Provincial Parks and Protected Areas consultation process, there was public consultation on how parks and forests should be managed.  However, there was no consultation pertaining to the over-arching policy question: whether commercial logging should be allowed in Algonquin Park at all.

Clearly, the conditions for granting certification did not exist.  It is a complete contradiction to say that logging in a park could match any standard that purports to certify sustainable forestry.  The review will take approximately five months, and we will post further updates with any new developments.