MONTRÉAL, Dec. 18, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Resolute Forest Products Inc. (NYSE: RFP) (TSX: RFP) responds to the proposal put forth by FSC International on December 17, 2015, to launch a mediation process between interested parties with the goal of identifying solutions to forest management issues in the Canadian boreal forest. The proposal follows Resolute's expression of concern regarding the viability of FSC certification in Canada given several significant challenges.
Resolute firmly believes that any mediation process concerning forest management in Quebec or Ontario must be led by the respective provincial governments, as they are clearly responsible for issues related to forest management planning. These issues include the resolution of disputes between First Nations and the implementation of a caribou conservation strategy, both of which are cited as key areas of focus in FSC International's proposal. According to an article published this morning in Le Quotidien, it is not clear whether the Quebec government would be willing to participate in such a process.
"Beyond the leadership of the provincial governments, it is critical that all of the parties impacted by forestry activities in the boreal forest be involved in any discussion concerning certification," said Richard Garneau, president and chief executive officer of Resolute. "This includes First Nations, local communities and unions. Of course, we believe that environmental groups should have a voice in the process. Greenpeace, the only ENGO mentioned in FSC's proposal, has been engaged in a campaign of misinformation targeting Resolute. We believe it would be more appropriate to engage with responsible organizations with a track record of constructive engagement in the public policy discourse, to ensure that the process is neutral and fair."
Resolute has not been alone in expressing concerns about the viability of FSC certification in Canada. On October 28, 2015, the Québec Forest Industry Council (QFIC) sent letters expressing concerns to FSC Canada as well as to Laurent Lessard, Quebec's Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks. On November 18, 2015, the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA) sent a letter to Bill Mauro, Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, voicing similar concerns. And on November 30, 2015, during an FSC International forum in Bonn, Germany, Minister Lessard called for a resolution to the issues.
A growing number of Canadian companies have seen their FSC certificates suspended or terminated in recent months, including Arbec, Eacom and, as recently as yesterday, Domtar, for a tenure in Ontario. In October 2015, the Coast Forest Conservation Initiative (CFCI) voluntarily terminated its FSC certificate for the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, an area totaling nearly 850,000 hectares.
These developments are indicative of a need to address the significant challenges facing FSC and its membership. Resolute looks forward to participating fully, under government leadership, in any process that is neutral, inclusive and transparent in the hopes of identifying solutions that benefit all concerned.
About Resolute Forest Products
Resolute Forest Products is a global leader in the forest products industry with a diverse range of products, including newsprint, specialty papers, tissue, market pulp and wood products. The company owns or operates over 40 pulp, paper, tissue and wood products facilities in the United States, Canada and South Korea, as well as power generation assets in Canada. Marketing its products in close to 80 countries, Resolute has third-party certified 100% of its managed woodlands to internationally recognized sustainable forest management standards. The shares of Resolute Forest Products trade under the stock symbol RFP on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Resolute has received multiple national and international awards for its leadership in corporate social responsibility and sustainable development, as well as for its business practices. Visit www.resolutefp.com for more information.
SOURCE Resolute Forest Products Inc.
For further information: Investors, Rémi G. Lalonde, Vice President and Treasurer, 514 394-2345, [email protected]; Media and Others, Seth Kursman, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Sustainability and Government Affairs, 514 394-2398, [email protected]