NEMASKA, EEYOU ISTCHEE, QC, May 20 /CNW Telbec/ - In response to the announcement by several of Canada's leading environmental organizations and the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) concerning their new agreement over the Boreal Forest, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) wishes to clarify a misconception that this agreement has any impact on the way in which forestry activities are being carried out in Cree territory.
A key element of this agreement is a commitment by the forestry companies to suspend all harvesting and road construction in approximately 29 million hectares of forest across Canada until 2012 to allow for conservation planning for the protection of the endangered woodland caribou.
While most of the woodland caribou habitat in the Cree territory is not included in the 29 million hectares, one forestry management unit (FMU-086-66) attributed to Abitibi-Bowater has been included in this caribou conservation commitment. The Grand Council wishes to clarify Abitibi-Bowater's commitment with respect to this FMU.
The northern section of this FMU hosts a thriving population of woodland caribou. Present research suggests this herd resides in the vicinity south and north of the Broadback River. Although Abitibi-Bowater has no plans to carry out cutting operations on this FMU in the next two years, Quebec's Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife has granted Domtar, who is not a member of FPAC, the right to log this Broadback River area. To access this area, Domtar has plans to build a major 76 km log hauling road across the Broadback River directly through this sensitive Caribou habitat in 2011.
The Grand Council also notes that in Domtar's Environmental Impact Statement for this road, the company indicates that portions of the wood harvested in this sector will supply Abitibi-Bowater's Comtois mill near Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Quebec.
Bill Namagoose, Executive Director for the Grand Council, concluded: "On paper, Abitibi-Bowater through this new agreement, and Domtar through its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, appear as good corporate citizens and yet their actions in the forest tell a different story."
Accordingly, the Grand Council urges both Domtar and Abitibi-Bowater to uphold the intentions of the woodland caribou conservation commitment within the Boreal Agreement by truly suspending all operations in the Broadback River sector, including road construction, until effective measures are in place to safeguard the existing caribou herd. This would be in keeping with the moratorium that the Grand Council and CPAWS Quebec jointly called for in April 2009.
SOURCE Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
For further information: For further information: Bill Namagoose, Executive Director GCCEI, (613) 725-7024; Isaac Voyageur, Director of Environment and Remedial Works, CRA, (514) 923-0327; Geoff Quaile, Environmental Advisor, (819) 775-0301