The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (“CBFA”) is an agreement between 9 environmental groups and 21 forestry companies represented by the Forest Products Association of Canada to suspend logging on nearly 29 million hectares of forest from the provinces of British Columbia to Newfoundland to “allow for caribou protection planning while maintaining essential fibre supply” (as stated in the CBFA). Existing forest permits and licenses require certain levels of harvesting and do not give companies the unilateral power to set aside protected areas. The CBFA is a component of a larger boreal conservation movement, which First Nations in NAN view as a direct attack on treaty rights and a continuation of colonialism.
Even though it directly impacts First Nations’ rights and territories, including forests, this agreement was negotiated without First Nations’ knowledge or participation. First Nations in NAN are not in support of the CBFA for a number of reasons, some of which include:
- It is contrary to many articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”) which affirms First Nations (indigenous peoples) rights to recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties and the right to conservation and protection of the environment (the UNDRIP confirms that First Nations are the leadership voice with regards to stewardship, conservation and protection planning on their homelands and not environmental or forest industry organizations)
- It assumes that concessions to third-party private interest groups (including environmental and industry organizations) can be handed out by government in absence of the obligation to obtain the free, prior and informed consent (“FPIC”) from First Nations
An open letter to the CBFA signatories calling for the termination of this agreement on a voluntary and unconditional basis was forwarded as directed by a NAN Chiefs Resolution 10/60. Rather than respect the rights of First Nations, signatories to the CBFA defended their actions and refuse to terminate it. To date, they continue to implement the CBFA in Canada. In July 2011, an article entitled Expropriation of Indigenous Lands for Government Designated Protected Areas in Northern Ontario, Canada was published to raise attention to First Nations’ concerns.
NAN will continue to advocate for the termination of the CBFA and for the adherence to international human rights standards by governments and all other third-party interest groups.
Stay tuned for further updates. For further information, please contact us.