TORONTO, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Greenpeace today welcomed a decision by
forest-products giant AbitibiBowater to end its logging operations in the
traditional territory of the Grassy Narrows First Nation and support the
community in its struggle for rights over its traditional lands.
The move follows a near decade-long campaign by the Grassy Narrows First
Nation to suspend industrial logging in the one million hectare Whiskey Jack
Forest, near Kenora.
"We congratulate AbitibiBowater for announcing an end to logging in this
area. It is a bold move that shows the global importance of protecting the
Boreal Forest and strong recognition of the inspired struggle by the Grassy
Narrows First Nation to protect their traditional way of life," said Richard
Brooks, forest campaign coordinator with Greenpeace. "We are hopeful that
AbitibiBowater's decision signals a start to further improvements in its
environmental and social sustainability and relations with other aboriginal
Besides ending logging, the company will no longer purchase or use any
wood products from the Whiskey Jack Forest for its paper mill in Fort Frances.
The decision supports ongoing negotiations between the Ontario government and
the First Nation over land rights.
The struggle by First Nations for land rights and sovereignty continues
across Canada, and the struggle to protect intact forests and the habitat of
endangered species remains.
The Grassy Narrows First Nation has campaigned years for an end to
logging it their traditional territory. The First Nation has filed lawsuits,
conducted a five-year long peaceful blockade of a logging road and asked for
an end to industrial use of its area without its free, prior and informed
consent. Greenpeace and other environmental and human rights organizations
have campaigned on behalf of the community to help build international public
and marketplace pressure for a resolution.
Montreal-based Abitibi-Consolidated recently merged with US-based Bowater
to form AbitibiBowater, the largest newsprint manufacturer in North America.
"The formation of a new company presents an opportunity for positive
change. The decision to end logging shows that AbitibiBowater has recognized
this opportunity," said Brooks. "The company has many other forest operations
in Quebec and Ontario where logging in intact forest areas continues and
sustainability has not been achieved. We hope that AbitibiBowater looks to
these places next."
For further information:
For further information: Richard Brooks, Forest Campaign Coordinator,
(416) 573-7209; Kim Fry, Forest Campaigner, (647) 406-0664; Brian Blomme,
Media and Public Relations Officer, (416) 930-9055