MONTREAL, May 21, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Resolute Forest Products Inc.
(NYSE: RFP) (TSX: RFP) today expressed the Company's disappointment
that negotiations under the auspices of the Canadian Boreal Forest
Agreement (CBFA) have broken down after three years of collaborative
efforts. Parties were unable to reach mutual agreement on a workable
plan to jointly further conservation efforts while balancing
environmental, social and economic considerations in the Canadian
The CBFA was signed by members of the Forest Products Association of
Canada (FPAC), including Resolute, and a group of environmental
organizations to establish a common framework to further support boreal
conservation efforts while safeguarding the livelihood of thousands of
citizens in communities that depend on healthy working forests.
While it was challenging to find common ground among organizations with
such diverse interests, Resolute believes its contributions to CBFA
working groups and its overall commitment to sustainable forestry
positively impacted the process. Company employees participated in all
CBFA activities, offering concrete proposals and committing thousands
of work hours to the initiative. Resolute also stepped forward to
provide funding and offered significant additional financial support to
Over the past several weeks, intense negotiations took place leading up
to the third anniversary of the CBFA. Resolute put forward proposals
for Northwestern Ontario that endorsed the setting aside of an
additional 504,000 acres (204,000 hectares) of forest for conservation,
providing additional protection of caribou and other species. This
commitment is on top of the approximately 4,942,000 acres (2,000,000
hectares) of Ontario forests that have already been established as
protected spaces, parks and other initiatives over the past 15 years.
In Quebec, Resolute put forward additional candidates for protected
areas to move up the total percentage to 12%, equivalent to 1,710,000
acres (692,000 hectares), focusing primarily on best habitats for
caribou conservation. The Company also specifically addressed concerns
related to the Montagnes Blanches and the Broadback Valley. The
Resolute proposals were made with full knowledge that further
curtailment of the Company's fiber supply is likely in the near future
due to revisions of the annual allowable cut by Quebec's Chief
Forester, and by the implementation of a government endorsed caribou
"It is unfortunate the CBFA signatories were ultimately unable to reach
alignment on how to strike a balance among environmental, social and
economic priorities - the three pillars of sustainability," stated
Richard Garneau, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Rural,
northern and First Nations communities have paid a heavy price from the
economic and market challenges the industry has faced over the past
decade. We believe we have a responsibility to ensure that they
understand and have a say in any plans that might affect their futures.
Outcomes of the CBFA process that did not involve serious stakeholder
consultations would have lacked legitimacy and could not have been
considered reasonable proposals," continued Garneau.
"Resolute will simply not abdicate our responsibility to address
regional concerns of the North, including the First Nations' interests
with whom we have a number of business and economic development
initiatives already in place or pending. We agree that environmental
concerns must be at the forefront, however, the regional social and
economic impact must also be part of the equation," said Garneau.
During the negotiations, Resolute also offered to match funds raised by
participating environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) to
further research into endangered species management. It was proposed
that any such funding would be jointly managed by the Company and the
ENGO community, and dollars would flow to research efforts using
post-secondary institutions and other research resources residing in
the North. Such an approach would further support development of
economic and institutional capabilities of the northern regions.
Last year, as part of the Company's involvement in the CBFA, Resolute
played an important role in crafting a proposal for Northeastern
Ontario, ultimately resulting in joint recommendations to government.
One of the key elements of the proposal divided the Abitibi River
Forest Management Unit into three zones. The northern most zone
represented establishment of a caribou conservation area covering
almost 2,063,000 acres (835,000 hectares). Industry agreed to
voluntarily and permanently avoid harvesting the area to provide for
better caribou habitat. According to recent developments, the Ontario
government support for these recommendations will soon evolve into
formal implementation. Additionally, Resolute intends to use as
reference the methodological frameworks for protected spaces and
caribou conservation, produced under the CBFA, in the Company's ongoing
work to improve the current network of protected spaces and to enhance
existing caribou conservation plans.
Resolute assumes that in the coming days, certain ENGOs will resume
their attacks against the Company. Resolute will not tolerate
falsehoods or inaccuracies about the Company's actions. A few months
ago, following their announced exit from the CBFA, Greenpeace issued a
series of misleading, deceptive and factually inaccurate
allegations. Resolute provided clear proof that Greenpeace's claims
were false. Ultimately, when cautioned that the Company would commence
legal proceedings, Greenpeace finally acknowledged that its "evidence"
was untrue and issued a formal retraction.
Last week, Greenpeace once again issued a false and misleading report,
ignoring Resolute accomplishments and mischaracterizing the Company's
ongoing efforts to be a leading force for sustainable forestry. "As we
did then, Resolute will continue to take the necessary steps to protect
its reputation and that of our employees, as well as the reputations of
our valued customers and other business partners," stated Garneau.
Resolute remains committed to the principles underlying the CBFA and
will continue to operate in a manner consistent with a balanced
approach to sustainability. In 2012, Resolute achieved the distinction
of being the largest manager of forests certified through the Forest
Stewardship Council® (FSC®) in the world. The Company is also a member of the World Wildlife
Fund's Climate Savers Program, through which it has pledged to reduce
absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 65% below 2000 levels by 2015.
Recently, Resolute launched Forum Boréal, a new online forum where
users can discuss and exchange information about the challenges of
sustainable development in the boreal regions of Quebec.
"By continuously striving to improve our sustainability performance,
Resolute creates value for our customers, our employees, our operating
communities and our shareholders," concluded Garneau.
About Resolute Forest Products
Resolute Forest Products is a global leader in the forest products
industry with a diverse range of products, including newsprint,
commercial printing papers, market pulp and wood products. The Company
owns or operates over 40 pulp and paper mills and wood products
facilities in the United States, Canada and South Korea, and power
generation assets in Canada. The shares of Resolute Forest Products
trade under the stock symbol RFP on both the New York Stock Exchange
and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Marketing its products in close to 90 countries, Resolute has
third-party certified 100% of its managed woodlands to at least one of
three internationally-recognized sustainable forest management
standards, including the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) standards. The Company is also a member of the World Wildlife Fund's
Climate Savers program, in which businesses establish ambitious targets
to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions and work aggressively
toward achieving them.
SOURCE: Resolute Forest Products Inc.
For further information:
Rémi G. Lalonde
Vice President, Investor Relations
Media and Others
Vice President, Corporate Communications, Sustainability and Government Affairs