Forestry Agreement To Promote Growth

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Free Trade Deal with Europe Helps Forest Sector

HUDSON – BUSINESS – An agreement was recently signed by Domtar, Weyerhaeuser, seven independent loggers and two First Nations; Slate Falls First Nation and Lac Seul First Nation.  The agreement supports resource extraction practices expected to benefit all stakeholders equally.

Chief Clifford Bull of Lac Seul First Nation stated, “There are mechanisms in the agreement that benchmark opportunities and promote growth for all involved.  Too often, First Nations do not receive any benefits from resource extraction in their Traditional Territories.  While we take a leading role in managing the forest, we have also defined the needs of the other stakeholders.  In this agreement, our Band Members see tangible benefits and the elements that are important to the First Nations are defined and protected.”

Kevin Belanger, Vice-President, Wood Fibre Procurement at Domtar, believes that developing this relationship with all of the stakeholders is as valuable to the forest industry as the resource itself.  He states, “We are confident that this agreement will provide opportunities into the future and will strengthen the ability of our facility in Dryden to compete in the global marketplace.”

Obishikokaang Resources Corporation (ORC), the forest management company owned by Lac Seul First Nation, holds an enhanced Forest Resource Licence (eFRL) for the Lac Seul Forest.  ORC has been actively pursuing greater collaboration between stakeholders on the forest and across the region.  “We are well on the path towards certifying this forest,” says ORC General Manager, Bert Hennessey.  He adds, “This agreement and our certification efforts demonstrate our commitment to protecting the social, cultural, environmental and economic sustainability of the Lac Seul Forest, while helping our customers improve their product in the marketplace.”

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF) hopes that with this new 20-page framework agreement, tenure discussions on the Lac Seul Forest will continue.  Bob David, the Sioux Lookout District Manager with OMNRF, emphasized that the agreement was designed to protect existing business relationships that have developed since the eFRL was granted to ORC in 2012.

Erik Holmstrom, Timberlands Manager Weyerhaeuser, Kenora identified this agreement as another step towards an enhanced Sustainable Forest Licence (eSFL) for the Lac Seul Forest.  He states, “Weyerhaeuser has been working with all of the stakeholders on this agreement for months and the next step is to discuss the corporation that will hold the longer term eSFL.  I feel confident we will land a corporate agreement that meets all of our needs.”

John Bath, Councillor with the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, is also optimistic that the new agreement is an indicator of a stronger local forest industry.  He notes, “The Municipality continues to be a staunch supporter of Lac Seul First Nation and ORC’s continued management of the Lac Seul Forest, as well as a strong advocate for the establishment of an eSFL on the Forest”.

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