Saving the trees in Canada

Having had enough of being
blackballed, the Canadian forestry sector is making a big bet on green.

In a landmark deal struck with
environmental groups, the industry has agreed to freeze all logging activity on
expanses of the boreal forest, in total an area the size of Texas.

In an arrangement to be implemented
over the next three years, 72 million acres of the northern forest stretching
from Quebec to British Columbia, will be off limits to chainsaws and logging

The nine major environmental groups
involved in the negotiations over the last two years hailed the deal as the
greatest accomplishment in the history of forest conservation.

And it’s a big sacrifice for the
forestry industry already beleaguered by the depressed U.S. housing market.

“The compromise was
extensive,” said James Lopez, chief executive of Tembec Inc.

“The economic gains on the
other side of it are overwhelmingly more positive than what we’re going to
lose,” he said. “Don’t underestimate the negative impact that the
campaigns of the environmentalists have had on some companies.”

With the deal, Greenpeace, Canopy
and ForestEthics agreed to suspend their “Do Not Buy” campaigns
targeting Canadian companies with operations in the boreal forest.

“It really is a truce after
many years of fighting each other,” said Richard Brooks, forest campaign
coordinator for Greenpeace.

Mr. Brooks said the boreal forest
is globally significant, includes habitat critical to the survival of the woodland
caribou and is key to fighting the effects of climate change.

“It is the largest storehouse
of carbon on the planet,” he said. “And it is the source of fresh
water for half of our country. It is one of the last truly vast wilderness
spaces that we have left on the planet.”