Alberta-Pacific Awarded FSC Forestry Management Certification
13.6 Million Acres Represents Largest FSC-Certified Forest in the World, and Puts Canada in the Lead for FSC-Certified Forests
Boyle, Alberta -- Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries has achieved Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for its forest lands by accredited certifier SmartWood, a program of the Rainforest Alliance. The certification of 13.6 million acres of Alberta-Pacific's forest management area in northeastern Alberta represents the largest FSC-certified forest in the world. The certification follows a comprehensive 10-month assessment according to FSC Canada's National Boreal Standard.
"This FSC certification independently validates the direction we have taken as a company since we started operations in 1993," explains Andy Neigel, Alberta Pacific's general manager and vice president of operations. "The achievement also exemplifies our people's commitment to continuous improvement and to ensuring the forest is well managed and forest values are protected."
Neigel says Alberta-Pacific chose to pursue FSC certification because of its credibility in the global marketplace, track record as a results-oriented independent organization, endorsement by Aboriginal people, environmental and conservation groups and businesses, and focus on achieving social and economic as well as environmental standards.
"FSC certification is a good fit for our company, our customers and our position in the global market. We are now able to satisfy requests we are receiving from customers worldwide who are introducing FSC- certified paper and seeking suppliers of FSC- certified kraft pulp."
Heiko Liedeker, executive director of FSC International, says the size and location of Alberta-Pacific's forest area will have a ripple effect on the supply and demand for FSC-certified products on the global market. "We expect other companies and other countries to take notice of the achievement of Alberta-Pacific and the progress of Canada in embracing the responsible management of their forests, particularly in the boreal forests," says Liedeker. "We know from our surveys that the demand for many FSC-certified products is greater than the supply. Customers and consumers are becoming more aware and are requesting more products from well-managed forests, which now includes Alberta-Pacific's forest."
"The 13-million-plus acres that were FSC-certified on Sept. 22 is not only huge in terms of the size of the territory, but also in terms of the market impact," states Antony Marcil, president and CEO of FSC Canada. "In one fell swoop, over 600,000 tons of mostly hardwood pulp is added to the supply of FSC-certified raw material for the paper makers of the world. This will add to the avalanche of quality FSC-certified paper grades and weights that have come onto the market in 2005 and are now available for corporations and governments that are looking to have their paper purchases meet their sustainability and social responsibility commitments."
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and Ducks Unlimited participated in the certification assessment process. They partnered with Alberta-Pacific to identify High Conservation Value Forests and areas that should be deferred from harvest and act as ecological benchmarks to compare to harvested landscapes.
Alberta-Pacific initiated the certification process in 2000 with the start of a review of its forest management practices compared to the FSC Principles & Criteria. The company engaged SmartWood, a program of the Rainforest Alliance, to develop a detailed audit that a SmartWood assessment team conducted in late 2004. The audit included verification of Alberta-Pacific's forest management operations, interviews with more than 100 stakeholders, Aboriginal and community representatives, and reviews of written responses to surveys sent to 200 residents in the area.
With Alberta-Pacific's certification, Canada is now the leading country in the world for FSC-certified forest with 35.3 million acres, or 23 percent of the global total. Alberta-Pacific's certification is also the first in Alberta as well as the first within the boreal forest of Western Canada.
Alberta-Pacific, a private company in northeastern Alberta owned by Mitsubishi Corporation (70 percent) and Oji Paper Co. Ltd. (30 percent), operates Canada's newest, and North America's largest, single-line bleached kraft pulp mill. Alberta-Pacific is responsible for conducting inventories and planning roads and harvests in an area of about 14.3 million acres under its Forest Management Agreement (FMA) with the Province of Alberta. Al-Pac is a signatory to the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework and a member of the Boreal Leadership Council.
For more information about Alberta Pacific, visit: www.alpac.ca.