CAFO Ottawa Meetings (September 26, 2017)

The CAFO Delegation – L. to R. – Andrew Willett (J.D. Irving Ltd.), Chris Lee (CAFO), Conway Elkins (AV Group NB), John Gilbert (J.D. Irving Ltd.), Kevin Topolniski (Acadian Timber) and Domenico Iannidinardo (TimberWest) waiting by the camp fire (a Parks Canada display in the lobby of their HQ)

In advance of the SFI and CIF annual conferences, which took place in Ottawa during the week of September 25 th , 2017 a series of meetings were set up with senior government officials and Minister’s staff.

The main topic for the meetings was the recently released (June 2017) discussion paper on Environmental and Regulatory reviews which included the Fisheries Act, the Navigation Protection Act and federal environmental assessment processes. CAFO provided a detailed response to this discussion paper and used that response as the basis for these meetings. In the meeting with the Senior Policy Analyst on Climate Change, Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the conversation focused on carbon offsets and the potential contribution of forest owners. ECCC produced a technical paper on carbon pricing and CAFO is engaged in discussions about offsets as a potential additional product from private forest lands.

CAFO met with staff of ECCC’s Canadian Wildlife Service to provide an update on the SARA/Forest Certification pilot projects with TimberWest on Vancouver Island and J.D. Irving in NB. Both pilot projects are making excellent progress. A report from KPMG is expected shortly and will identify the gaps between forest certification and SARA requirements and assist the pilot projects in identifying ways to address those gaps.

The CAFO delegation met with staff from the Prime Minister’s Office. This meeting focused on CAFO’s concerns with species at risk, allowance for incidental take under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, changes to the Fisheries Act, and climate change and the role of private forests. Eastern CAFO members highlighted the spruce budworm project and reiterated the need for federal support for a proactive approach to budworm control. The western members raised the Softwood Lumber negotiations and the issue of log exports restrictions, which only apply in BC.

CAFO then met with Special Assistants to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. CAFO outlined our concerns with changes to the Fisheries Act. We offered suggestions to the Minister’s staff including the use of forest certification to demonstrate fisheries and habitat protection (similar to the pilot projects with terrestrial species at risk), additional investment in fisheries stewardship programs and the creation of a Fisheries Advisory Committee.

The final CAFO meeting was with the CEO of Parks Canada to discuss species at risk and the consideration of habitat information that is not published but still subject to review by external experts, offering a type of “peer review”.

The discussion then moved to protected areas and the notion of considering “conservation Lands” as protected for the purposes of the goal of achieving 17% protected areas. Parks Canada suggested they will need our help in changing the debate and having those conservation lands (i.e. areas within managed forests that are set aside for other purposes including wildlife habitat, wetlands conservation, sensitive areas, etc.) being recognized and included.