Diverse partners join effort to protect Canada’s Boreal forest region
December 19, 2005 – Ottawa
A leading Canadian investment firm and the world’s largest nonprofit conservation organization are endorsing a national vision that balances protection of ecological and cultural values with responsible economic development across Canada’s 1.4 billion acre Boreal forest region, the Canadian Boreal Initiative announced today.
Known as the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, the vision calls for protection of at least 50 percent of Canada’s Boreal region and world-class sustainable development practices on the remaining landscape. Today’s new signatories – the Ethical Funds Company, Canada’s original and largest manager of socially responsible mutual funds and The Nature Conservancy – join the 11 other leading conservation organizations, First Nations, and forestry and energy companies that launched the Framework. Since its launch two years ago, the Framework has been increasingly attracting the attention of Canadian decision-makers, as well as the North American marketplace.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates the increasing support that we’re seeing across diverse sectors for the balanced approach of the Framework,” said CBI Director Cathy Wilkinson. “These leaders share a growing concern about the need to plan before development as industrial pressure escalates, and in recognition of the unique global values of the region, such as the critical role of Boreal trees, soils and peatlands in mitigating the effects of climate change.”
Stretching across Canada from Newfoundland and Labrador to the Yukon, the Boreal region is one of the world’s most important ecosystems, covering 58 percent of the country. It provides extensive habitat for a wide variety of animal species, including migratory birds, rare woodland caribou, grizzly bears and wolves. Canada’s Boreal is home to over 600 Aboriginal communities, and its wealth of natural resources is central to the forestry, mining, hydro and oil and gas industries in North America.
“The Boreal forest is a Canadian icon. It has shaped our history, our economy, and our culture – it is a part of who we are,” said Bob Walker, Vice-President of Sustainability at the Ethical Funds Company. “We have an obligation to future generations of Canadians to carefully manage all of our activities in the Boreal forest – the heart of our nation’s identity.”
Ethical Funds has written to and begun talks with RBC Financial Group, CIBC, TD Bank Financial Group, Scotiabank Group and BMO Financial Group asking them to develop lending policies based on biodiversity protection and to endorse the Framework. Ethical Funds has a history of engaging Canada’s top five banks on environmental and sustainable issues – successfully signing on four of the banks to the Equator Principles in support of financial industry policy development that is socially responsible and reflects sound environmental management practices.
“The Framework sets an ambitious goal to balance economic opportunities with natural resource protection,” said Tony Grundhauser, The Nature Conservancy’s Director US/Canada Partnership. “We are excited to join with the other partners in the Framework to advance the goal of protecting this critical natural resource at a scale that can really make a difference. The Canadian Boreal is one of the last three frontier forests left on earth, and its threats are accelerating. It is a challenge to all of us to find ways to protect this special region while insuring that its valuable resources are sustainably managed for the benefit of the people who live and work within the forest. With less than 10 percent of the Boreal region protected from development, time is short.”
The Nature Conservancy will support implementation of the Framework through its expertise in science and land use planning, as well as its significant relationships with key industry partners. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 117 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of river around the world.
See attached backgrounder for additional information about Canada’s Boreal region, the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework and each of its signatories, or visit www.borealcanada.ca.
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