Ringing the regions just south of the Arctic Circle, the boreal forest forms a nearly continuous belt of trees across North America and Eurasia. The Canadian boreal forest alone covers roughly 1.2 billion acres (more than 485 million hectares) and, according to The Nature Conservancy, “accounts for one-quarter of the intact, original forest remaining on earth.”
Under the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) signed in May 2010, members of the forest industry — including Weyerhaeuser — and Canadian environmentalists agreed to work together to simultaneously protect the ecological integrity of the boreal forest and the social and economic prosperity of the communities that call it home.
It is home to thousands of species, from currently at-risk woodland caribou to grizzly bears to more than 3 billion migrating songbirds in the spring. Its wetlands “sustain 80 percent of the waterfowl species in North America,” according to The Nature Conservancy. With its size and scope, the Canadian boreal forest even impacts climate change, capturing and holding around 11 percent of the world’s carbon. And according to Canadian Geographic, the forest “directly and indirectly employs more than 600,000 Canadians and is the economic engine of almost 200 communities.”
The CBFA was originally signed by 21 forest industry partners and nine environmental nongovernmental organizations.
With momentum high, advocates on both sides established regional working groups to take on two of the agreement’s six goals — to accelerate completion of the protected-spaces network for the boreal forest and to fast-track plans to protect at-risk species, particularly woodland caribou.
Based in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, John Daisley is planning coordinator and environmental manager for our timberlands operations. He also works to support progress toward the agreement’s goals in the province.
“The agreement is based on two pillars,” John says. “One is the conservation pillar, and one is the well-being of forest-dependent communities. We’ve always tried to keep those pillars in mind so we’re not bending too far in one direction or the other.”
The effort is science-driven, with the shared goal of sustainably managing a landscape of working forests across the boreal. Those helping to make the agreement’s vision a reality in the region include industry, environmental organizations, indigenous people, and national and regional governments.
Like many Weyerhaeuser people in the area, John is an outdoorsman and has both a professional and personal investment in the agreement’s success.
“My wife and I live on a 40-acre woodlot,” he says. “We cut firewood, harvest timber for our small sawmill and cross-country ski out our back door. We’re very connected to the outdoors.” He also considers himself a working environmentalist.
“I’ve been in the forest industry for 40 years, and I was a ‘small e’ environmentalist before I joined,” John says. “I still am. When you look at the staff in our timberlands office, virtually everyone has a connection to the outdoors outside of their work — whether through fishing hunting, camping or trapping — and cares a great deal about our natural environment.”
John is proud that Saskatchewan is one of two regions (along with northeast Ontario) to reach signed local agreements to make the CBFA’s vision a reality. He credits industry partners and the outstanding work of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society with the achievement.
“The Society has experience working on projects over the long term and recognizes the need to balance conservation with jobs in forest-dependent communities,” John says. “We also have a Forest Management Advisory Committee with stakeholders from many walks of life who have been quite supportive of the work.”
Working together has been less difficult than you might imagine, John says.
“When you can actually go out to the woods and discuss issues with environmentalists, you find that there’s a lot of common ground. Weyerhaeuser’s best management practices are in sync with the expectations of many environmentalists.”