Big Northern Greenwash: Who Speaks for the Trees?

22 May

So a new management deal has been signed for Canada’s Boreal Forest. It’s being hailed as the largest forest deal in the history of the world. You can see the map above: orange will be ‘protected’, gray areas will not. The fragmentation seems to indicate a lack of wildlife migration corridors. Sounds pretty fishy already. Check out this article especially, and this one, and this from the NYT business blog. 21 timber and paper companies, the State and 9 NGOs are on board, including Greenpeace, which is publicly declaring this deal as a major victory. But many questions remain unanswered, like these from DTE. And as usual, despite their having been here for at least thousands of years, no one consulted the Natives. Mad props to the VMC for breaking this.

“It’s a massive tomb, uh, tome that we’ve put together,” misspoke Richard Brooks from Greenpeace at the press conference on Tuesday morning. Only a twelve page abridged version of the agreement has been made public. The full agreement was leaked to the Vancouver Media Co-op on May 19. According to Brooks, it will now be presented to various levels of government.

“The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is essentially another huge jump away from democracy, towards corporate control of the lands of Canada, as well as the corporatization of what is left of a once defiant environmental movement,” said Macdonald Stainsby, coordinator of OilSandsTruth.org.

“I hardly think that this in any way represents an end to the conflict between the true proponants of the war over the boreal forest, which of course are corporations and First Nations,” he said. “What this means is that First Nations no longer have the support of these mainstream environmental groups that have fallen into the strategy of conquer and divide deployed by industry.”

For their part, smaller environmental groups are worried the deal will distract from the ongoing devastation of Canada’s forests, and could contribute to more false solutions for climate change.

“Ontario has no legal limit on the size of clearcuts which are permitted to flatten an area equivalent to 1,400 football fields each day in our province,” said Amber Ellis, Earthroots Executive Director, in a press release.

“Unless we are to believe that the CBI, David Suzuki Foundation, CPAWS and ForestEthics all under cut their own campaigns, this is only a part and parcel to set up a carbon market, and allow forest offsets to go alongside carbon offsets and further entrench false solutions to the climate crisis,” said Stainsby.

“We plan to turn this into a competitive advantage,” said Avram Lazer, the CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada. “We think this sets the pattern that everyone should follow.”

Greenpeace spearheaded the deal, which was “in some ways” sponsored by the Pew and Ivey Foundations, according to Lazer.

The Pew foundation has already come under close scrutiny by activists because of their ties to large oil companies. The Ivey Foundation has been a prime backer of controversial BC environmentalist Tzeporah Berman’s organization Power Up.

Greenpeace and the NGOs have hung the entire native population of Canada out to dry. Clearcuts will still happen, but Canadians will have license to ignore them since their favorite enviros have declared that it’s all good. The voices of the trees, and of the bears, lynx, caribou etc. and the First Nations people who depend on the forests, cannot possibly scream louder than the thunderous applause being heaped on this deal by the corporate media. Those voices have been effectively silenced as the “Timber Wars” in Canada have been declared over.

And for what? So these Big Green groups can claim a “victory” to help drain the pockets of their “members” and also increase their income from corporate foundations? Or more ominously, is it to set a (literally) clear-cut precedent, a “prototype for forest conservation” in other areas of the world that could lead to complete corporate control of forest “conservation” in the Amazon, Congo, Taiga, Indonesia etc. within the next decade, shutting out any dissent by non-humans and those First Peoples who would speak on their behalf.

Shame on you, Greenpeace. Shame on you for putting out this video saying the Boreal Forest and all its creatures will be preserved FOREVER. That’s a 10,000 hectare whopper, the size of an Ontario clearcut.

We’d like to take the honor right now of saying on this blog for the first time: Cancel your GP membership. They do not deserve one red cent of any environmentalist’s money. They predictably make it kind of hard to do, and one can’t do it online. Call 1-800-326-0959 Mon – Fri 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and give them your info and tell them to cancel it. Make sure to tell them why. (202) 462-1177 is the number for their staff offices in DC, make sure to call them too and talk to them all about Greenwashing, their complicity in it, the FSC, the futility of lobbying Congress, and any other concerns you may have.

Here’s the excellent article from VMC if you haven’t read it yet.

3 Responses to “Big Northern Greenwash: Who Speaks for the Trees?”

  1. John H.W. Hummel May 24, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    A Big Concern Re: The New
    Boreal Forest Agreement
    by John H.W. Hummel

    Dear Friends: After examining a leaked copy, found here: http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/sites/mediacoop.ca/files2/mc/Final.pdf of the new Boreal Forest Agreement between Forestry Companies and several large environmental groups, I am much troubled by section 12 on pages 38 and 39 of this document.

    In my opinion, this particular section is an ingenious bit of divide and conquer on the part of the Forest Companies.

    Here’s why:

    1) If you look at the attached Map of this agreement, you will see that large chunks of the Boreal Forest are designated under the agreement as “Commercial Forestry Zone”. As the forestry companies who are party to the agreement will not be logging in areas designated as “Area of Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement’, where is clear-cut logging likely to intensify during the three years of the agreement? Obviously in the area designated as “Commercial Forestry Zone”! Please Note: Grassy Narrows’ entire traditional territory is now designated under this agreement as ‘Commercial Forestry Zone’.

    2) Many First Nations and their allies in the smaller environmental groups will certainly try and protect sections of these “Commercial Forestry Zones” For example Grassy Narrows First Nation. How can they do that? Boycotts of the products of the Forest Companies who are destroying their lands, direct actions, media campaigns etc. In short, everything this agreement was
    designed to prevent.

    3) Greenpeace, Forest Ethics and other ENGO’s are party to this agreement. It is likely that other ENGO’s, some First Nations and some Aboriginal organizations will sign onto this agreement. The signatories to this agreement are actively trying to recruit other groups to sign on and be bound by this agreement.

    4) All of the groups who have and are likely to sign on to this agreement, are associated with other ENGO’s and First Nations “through membership or otherwise”. For example, a few weeks ago Greenpeace was supporting Grassy Narrows at protests at Queen’s Park over Mercury Poisoning, Forest Ethics (as far as I know) supported Grassy Narrows in their logging blockades.

    5) My read of pages 38 and 39 (section 12) is that it sets up an intelligence service for the Forest Industry where signatory members must immediately inform on other “third parties” to the Forest Industry if those “third parties” are planning any sort of actions against, for example, Weyerhaeuser. Not only that, but the ENGO signatories to the agreement are also required to work with the Forest Companies to neutralize the statements or planned actions of those “third parties”.

    I say that this is an ingenious bit of divide and conquer because, it obliges the signatories to inform on anyone they are associated with (who does not go along with this deal) to the Forest Companies. This creates mistrust that weakens the larger environmental movement, weakens the Indigenous rights movement and weakens existing or emerging alliances between Indigenous
    People and ENGO’s.

    The only way to avoid all this division is to remember that only a few individuals in the ENGO’s who signed this agreement have actually read the entire agreement. The leadership of these groups only released an 8 page abridged version of the agreement to the public and the attached leaked 39 pages of the agreement does not include any of the Schedules or maps that are also part of the agreement.

    One big question is: When the agreement runs out in three years, where will the companies log then?

    Anyway, what do you make of this new agreement? hope you let me know.

    For Land and Life,
    John H.W. Hummel
    Nelson, B.C.

    P.S. Here is a recent press release I found on the Internet which which points out other potential difficulties regarding this new deal: http://forests.org/blog/2010/05/release-greenpeace-partners-wi.asp

  2. Eric May 25, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    The deal covers 72 million hectares including an immediate moratorium on 28 million hectares of caribou habitat. Thats an area twice the size of Germany.

    Is this the end all be all? No. But even GP says they’re going to move on to work for more.

    But to just trash GP out of hand as a greenwashing organization that leaves forests out to dry, in my opinion is being deliberately hostile and ungenerous.

    • Macdonald May 28, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

      The real lie is calling this “29 million hectares”. the actual areas– only on a moratorium, i.e. a truce, not real protection– that are being discussed is actually 70 000 hectares– until you realize that of that small, insignificant number, only 40 000 are actually outside of agreements already made with government (In Manitoba, the protected areas were already being brought off line by the provincial government, more than half of the already pathetic 70 000 h.).

      To talk about 29 million would mean they were about to be logged and they were not. The fact is this is a sell out of an EXTREME variety, far beyond what GP has ever done before and they deserve to die as an ENGO of any real consequence for this absolute, whole market betrayal and sell out of almost unimaginable proportions.

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