rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Boreal forest agreement something for enviros and workers to celebrate

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

The Canadian Boreal Agreement announced by the Forest Products Association of Canada and 9 ENGOs, led by Greenpeace, is a huge win for the environmental movement.  It is also a hopeful sign for a battered forest industry.

The agreement effectively ends the “war in the woods” for the Boreal Forest before it really got going.  But this is more than a truce.  For the first time, environmentalists have committed to promote the forest industry in global markets, based on its positive environmental performance.

This is a tectonic shift that will shake up all the so-called “stakeholders”  - companies, unions, community leaders, and many enviros as well who have grown up with a serious dislike of the forest industry.

For a glimpse of what this means for the industry, check out the FPAC web site and hear what they say about the agreement.  Canadian forest products are being rebranded as sustainable and part of climate change solutions.  Some will no doubt call it green-wash, and forest companies should not expect immediate redemption for past sins.  But the agreement speaks for itself when it defers logging and road building on 29 million hectares, begins work on new eco-system based forest practices and calls for life cycle carbon management of the entire boreal forest. 

It is hard not to make the comparison between these environmental commitments and the unmitigated disasters in the Gulf of Mexico.  In this case, the industry and the ENGOs are way out in front of provincial government regulators, most of whom are now scrambling to find out what happened.

For Greenpeace and the other major environmental organizations that negotiated this agreement, it is a mark of their maturity and accomplishment.  They will change the direction and tactics of a defining campaign begun over 20 years ago.  For many in government, industry and unions who said that you can not negotiate with or satisfy ENGOs, this proves them very wrong.

This agreement is also an important win for trade unionists who have understood environmental imperatives and appreciated the need for a division of labour in which environmentalists campaigned against the industry from the outside, sometimes using boycotts and direct action.   

There were periods when explaining environmental campaigns to members required a certain leap of faith, especially when campaign rhetoric overpowered recognition that forest industry jobs can and should be green jobs, processing a renewable resource.

Over the past five years, the Canadian forest industry has lost 100,000 jobs.  There is nothing comparable that any other Canadian industry has faced.  By all accounts it is an industry needing a new vision and a new start.

What can happen next, leading from this historic agreement?  Perhaps a major move towards FSC certification of most of our forest tenures.  Consumer choices and building codes may change to favour wood based building products over concrete and plastics. Perhaps there may also be a return to paper recycling operations that have been shelved during the economic crisis, and new investments in environmental niche products like totally chlorine free pulp.  With a stronger global market for Canadian producers, just maybe the federal government will begin to support investment and the conversion of our old newsprint industry to higher value specialty products.

In the meantime, the ENGOs are having a party in Toronto to celebrate.  Lets wish them well.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.