Logging deal expected in Canada's northern forest

Mon May 17, 2010 3:03pm EDT
 
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Some of Canada's largest forestry firms and environmental groups are expected to unveil a landmark deal on Tuesday to end their battle over logging in the country's massive northern forest.

Industry and environmental representatives have scheduled a news conference in Toronto to unveil "a major announcement on conservation and competitiveness in Canadian forestry," according to a press release on Monday.

No details have been released, but a published report in the Province newspaper in Vancouver last week said producers would agree to stop logging in some protected areas in return for green groups allowing logging elsewhere in the continent-wide boreal forest.

A similar deal was reached four years ago to end a dispute over logging in the rainforest on Canada's Pacific Coast, and environmental groups had been running a similar international campaign against logging in the vast boreal forest.

Environmentalists say the boreal, or northern, forest plays an important role in fighting global warming by absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere produced by fossil fuel burning.

Canada's boreal forest consists mostly of coniferous trees such as spruce, fir and pine, well as large wetlands regions. It covers an area of about 1.4 billion acres (5.7 million square km), stretching from Newfoundland to the Yukon. Only about 10 percent of the forest is currently protected, according to a study last year.

Green groups involved in Tuesday's announcement include Greenpeace, the Nature Conservancy, ForestEthics, the David Suzuki Foundation and Pew Environmental Group, according to a press release on the event.

Major firms involved include: Canfor Corp, Tembec, Tolko Industries, West Fraser Timber, Weyerhaeuser, Mercer International and AbitibiBowater, in addition to the Forest Products Association of Canada. (Reporting Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson)