Third-Party Certification Forest Management Standards
100% of the timberlands managed by Resolute Forest Products are third-party certified to one of two internationally recognized forest management standards: Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) or Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®). A portion of our externally sourced fiber is also certified to one of these standards, or to the American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) standard.
These standards aim to protect biodiversity, water quality, wildlife habitat, species at risk and forests with exceptional conservation value. External forest management audits for SFI and FSC are conducted at our operations on a yearly basis, depending on the standard(s) used.
Our adherence to third-party-verified forest certification standards gives us an important competitive edge. It provides our customers with the assurance that our forests are managed responsibly according to rigorous standards developed specifically for local forest conditions.
In 2016, Resolute successfully maintained our existing forest management certificates (SFI and FSC) for all of the woodlands we manage in Quebec and Ontario. We continue to be one of the largest holders of SFI and FSC forest management certificates in North America. We also maintain ISO 14001-certified environmental management systems at our woodlands operations, which helps promote the conservation and sustainable use of forests and other natural resources.
Committed to Forest Management Certification
100% of the woodlands we manage are audited and certified by independent third parties. 98% of the area we manage in Canada is public land. The use of public land in Ontario is governed by long-term forest management arrangements that include a public input process and regular, periodic government auditing. In Quebec, where the provincial government bears the main responsibility for forest management planning, the forestry industry, with public input, can only harvest where permitted by the Quebec government.
We made a commitment to maintain 100% certification for our owned and managed timberlands in 2017 in order to continue meeting market demand for a diversity of credible certification options.
Resolute has been, and remains today, a supporter of FSC certification standards, both in terms of responsible forest management certification and chain of custody certification. Resolute has also gone above and beyond complying with government-approved harvest plans, regulations and recovery plans for species at risk.
Although the company has received notice of suspension or termination of some forest management certificates under the FSC National Boreal Standard, all of the areas in question remain certified under the SFI standard.
Details of these certificate suspensions and expirations are as follows:
In Quebec, one of the two suspended certificates in Lac-Saint-Jean covers an area at the center of a complex territorial dispute between two First Nations and the Quebec government. Resolute plays no role in this dispute. For this certificate and the other suspended one in Quebec, FSC auditors also raised issues related to the provincial government’s caribou conservation plans, which were deemed inadequate as they relate to elements of the federal caribou recovery strategy, more specifically the disturbance level. However, other holders of FSC certificates for neighboring territories in the Lac-Saint-Jean region have had their certificates renewed, despite having submitted the same caribou habitat conservation plan that was considered unacceptable when Resolute’s FSC certificates were audited. These are the two main issues that led to the suspension of Resolute’s certificates in the Lac-Saint-Jean region.
Statements from the Quebec government confirm that the matters described above are the government’s concern, and that the Province of Quebec is responsible for both the territorial disputes and the caribou habitat issues. FSC Canada asked the certification body to extend the temporary suspension of one of Resolute’s Quebec certificates until July 2015 to give the government time to settle its dispute with the Cree First Nation, which dates back to 2002, and resolve the issues with its caribou conservation plan. An additional one-year extension was granted in July 2015 by FSC to facilitate continued progress in the negotiations between the Government of Quebec, and the Cree and Innu people, as well as the development of a woodland caribou habitat rehabilitation strategy.
A resolution was reached in July 2015 between the Quebec government and James Bay Cree representatives to harmonize forest operations with Cree hunting, fishing and trapping activities in the Baril-Moses area. The suspension of Resolute’s forest management certificate in the region was extended through July 2016 while the government continued to work through outstanding issues, and to ultimately provide time for Resolute to work through the FSC process.
Resolute’s Lac-Saint-Jean (Quebec) FSC certificate was terminated, effective July 2, 2016. This comes following two years of suspension due to the inability to close major non-conformances identified during the 2013 annual surveillance audit, which were beyond Resolute’s direct control and could not be resolved during the suspension period.
It is interesting to note that only the Lac-Saint-Jean certificate was extended, while the expired Mistassini-Péribonka certificate was not treated with the same measure of flexibility, even though it was alleged to suffer the same defect related to the caribou conservation plan. The Mistassini-Péribonka FSC certificate has since been terminated.
In Ontario, the Black Spruce and Dog River-Matawin FSC certificate suspension was based on issues related to securing support from interested parties for Resolute’s FSC protected area proposal. The company had originally planned to fulfill this requirement as part of its participation in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) process, whose membership included environmental groups. However, the process has been difficult in light of the breakdown of negotiations in May 2013. A new corrective action verification audit (CVA) was carried out in April 2014. In order to prevent the publication of a problematic draft report, Resolute sought a legal injunction following the 2014 audit.
In February 2015, a settlement agreement was reached with the organization that conducted the original CVA, which included provisions to maintain the sealed status of all documents pertaining to the original CVA and conduct a new audit with a different independent audit team within six months. Resolute developed an action plan for securing the required support, and the certificate was reinstated in November 2015. Finally, an FSC certificate covering the Caribou Forest in Ontario expired on January 13, 2015, at the conclusion of its five-year term.
For details about our certified operations and for electronic copies of certificates, visit the Certification by Operation page.