Group of Companies Receive International Eco-certification in the Great Bear
Rainforest

Forest Stewardship Council certification for nearly one million hectares of forest complements the conservation plan in the Great Bear Rainforest; largest certification of its kind on BC's coast.

VANCOUVER, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - Nearly one million hectares of temperate rainforest have been newly certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in BC's Great Bear Rainforest. The certified area is larger than Prince Edward Island. FSC certification is the only forest certification system currently endorsed by a broad array of environmental and indigenous organizations around the world for being environmentally and socially responsible, and the one preferred by major customers.

The FSC certification is awarded to forest products companies who apply for the stamp and who demonstrate they are willing to operate in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. The forest companies who have been newly certified for approximately 850 000 ha are Western Forest Products, Interfor, and BC Timber Sales. As buyers of wood products from the forest, Catalyst Paper and Howe Sound Pulp and Paper supported the certification process for the logging companies. This is a signal that the forest industry is responding to the growing market demand for environmentally-responsible forest products.

"FSC is a globally recognized seal of socially and ecologically responsible forest management," said Valerie Langer of ForestEthics. "It is a way for the global marketplace, including consumers, to recognize the progress towards environmentally sound logging regulations resulting from the Great Bear Agreements."

In 2006, a groundbreaking land management system was announced that, when fully implemented, will protect the ecology of the entire Great Bear Rainforest through a series of protected areas and more restrictive logging practices. All governments and stakeholders have committed to meeting that goal by 2014.

"FSC certification means there is a commitment to continuous improvement of management planning and practices, a commitment that is consistent with the additional work to be done between the companies, environmental groups, provincial and First Nations governments over the next four years to ensure the ecological integrity of the Great Bear Rainforest," said Jens Wieting of Sierra Club of BC.

"The Great Bear Rainforest has the eyes of customers from around the world on it. They want to see the best environmental forestry practices with protection in place for this very special forest," said Eduardo Sousa of Greenpeace. "We look forward to the expansion of FSC certification to the rest of the Great Bear Rainforest."

Examples of FSC certified forest practices include: recognition of title and rights of the First Nations living in the Great Bear Rainforest, careful management of forests with significant concentrations of biodiversity and endemic species (such as the coastal wolves and Spirit bears found in the region), maintaining forests, and deciding how much can be logged without compromising ecosystem integrity.

SOURCE RAINFOREST SOLUTIONS PROJECT

For further information: For further information: Eduardo Sousa, Greenpeace Forests Campaigner: (778) 378-9955; Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC Coastal Forest Campaigner: (250) 889-9605; Valerie Langer, ForestEthics Coast Program Director: (604) 307-6448

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