The firm vouched for an Indonesian company with a supply chain beset by deforestation allegations and a project in Canada that led to an Indigenous forest’s “death by a thousand cuts”.
By Scilla Alecci for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
Just past mile 73 on the highway that connects Canada to Alaska, north of the small city of Fort St. John in British Columbia, a dense line of spruce and pine abruptly ends. It is replaced by a vast expanse of brush and stumps scarring the clear-cut forestland.
Sherry Dominic and her family once fished, hunted moose and picked berries here, following traditions of the native Blueberry River First Nations that stretch back hundreds of years in Canada’s westernmost province.
The land was once covered in boreal forest and laced with clear streams.
Then the loggers came.
In 2015, after more than a decade of intensive logging, Dominic and the Blueberry River First Nations sued the provincial government alleging that it had approved a “sustainable forest management” plan that failed to protect the forest. Instead, the project allowed companies including forestry giant Canfor Corp., to overharvest timber, damage native people’s territory and threaten their way of life.
First Nations members sent letters to the logging companies and the government, but their concerns “always fell on deaf ears,” said Dominic, a council member from the Blueberry River community. “They just kept going and going.”
In 2021, a provincial court suspended the approval of new logging permits, finding that the provincial government had promoted “intensive use” by forestry companies and other industries that left the Blueberry River First Nations’ territory and wildlife “drastically altered.”
Project audit reports point to another, less examined, point of failure that may have contributed to what the court calls “irreparable harm.”
KPMG, the global accounting firm, has served as both environmental auditor for the project and financial auditor for Canfor, a forestry conglomerate with $6 billion in annual revenue. Even as Canfor and other giant logging concerns cleared acres of forestland in the project area, KPMG was issuing reports that downplayed evidence that loggers were not complying with the project’s regulations, a review of the documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has found.
The examination of KPMG’s environmental auditing practices is part of Deforestation Inc., an investigation led by ICIJ in collaboration with 39 media partners. The cross-border investigation exposes the flaws of the environmental auditing and certification industries designed to combat deforestation, illegal logging and other abuses.
Go to the full story
By Jennifer Skene, Expert Blog, Natural Resources Defense Council
WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN in the European Union, the broken forest policy framework that, for three decades, obscured the Global North’s responsibility for forest destruction just came crashing down. Just hours before the start of the UN biodiversity conference in Montreal (COP15) and despite obstructionist efforts from Canada, the European Parliament reached an agreement on a groundbreaking trade regulation that is poised to transform global forest supply chains and usher in a new, more globally equitable era of forest protection. For the first time, forest policy will hold Canada and other northern countries accountable for their impacts by addressing not just deforestation, but also forest degradation–defined explicitly to include industrial logging in irreplaceable primary forests.
The B.C. government has spent millions in efforts to save the imperilled herd, even as it prepares to log its critical habitat.
By Sara Cox, The Narwhal, Nov. 25, 2022
The laundry list of ways the B.C. government has stepped in to protect the imperilled Columbia North caribou herd reads like something from a James Bond script: helicopters, tranquilizers, high-powered rifles and high-stakes captures.
First, it invested in a $2.4 million maternal pen (now defunct) where pregnant females were held until their calves were born and old enough to stand a chance in the wild. Then, it spent up to $30,000 to rescue three survivors from two Kootenay area caribou herds that became locally extinct, tranquilizing the animals and transporting them by helicopter, then trucking them through the snow to a pen and eventually merging them with the Columbia North population. Two years ago, it spent $100,000 to shoot 10 wolves that could gain easy access to the herd through logging roads, seismic lines and other linear disturbances that criss-cross caribou habitat.
But even with these costly and elaborate recovery efforts underway, the B.C. Ministry of Forests continues to consider and approve industrial logging proposals in the Columbia North herd’s critical habitat — habitat the federal government deems necessary for the endangered herd’s recovery and survival.
Go to the full story on The Narwhal
The amount of wood in Canada’s forests has declined relentlessly for decades.
By Barry Saxifrage at the National Observer
According to a new survey by Natural Resources Canada, our forests have lost a total of four billion cubic metres of wood volume since 1990. That translates into the loss of hundreds of millions mature trees. The missing wood is enough to stack more than a billion cords of firewood—or to build around four homes for each Canadian.
Where's the wood going? Logging has been hauling it out faster than Canada’s forests—weakened by decades of industrial forestry and rising climate impacts—can regrow. That imbalance is pouring billions of tonnes of CO2 onto our metastasizing climate crisis. It’s a rising climate threat that our government greenlights by keeping it off our nation’s official climate books.
Continue reading at the National Observer
Can Quesnel’s Bob Simpson chart a sustainable future for timber-dependent communities?
by Chiara Milford at The Tyee
Quesnel is one of those towns, like many others in British Columbia’s Interior, where surprisingly little has changed in decades. The surrounding landscape is dominated by pine plantations and service roads that lead to old gold mines.
Home to 12,000 people, the community lies 630 kilometres north of Vancouver along the highway that follows the Fraser River through central B.C. It’s a forestry town, and you could be forgiven for assuming that local politicians would want to see logging continue in the same old way.
How, then, to explain Mayor Bob Simpson, who sounds like a Green Party candidate and wants nothing less than to revolutionize the biggest industry in the province?
Read more at The Tyee
The province claimed new regs would save 1,500 trees from logging, but internal memos obtained by The Tyee said otherwise.
By Andrew MacLeod for The Tyee
OFFICIALS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA’S Forests Ministry understood that a regulation introduced in 2020 to protect big trees on public lands would have little impact. They designed it that way.
Internal records released to The Tyee in response to a Freedom of Information request confirm critics’ suspicions that the Special Tree Protection Regulation was meant to sound good to the public while continuing to protect the interests of the logging industry.
“Timber supply and economic impacts associated with the use of the proposed specifications are predicted to be insignificant when viewed on a provincial scale,” said a Forests Ministry memo dated Jan. 14, 2020 — some eight months before the government enacted the regulation.
The regulations apply to a dozen tree species on Crown and private lands managed under the Forest Act. Trees above set diameters, measured at chest height, are protected from logging. A hectare of forest surrounding each of those trees is also protected as a buffer.
Read more on The Tyee...
“We’re undervaluing it so much that it’s not creating that incentive to protect it,” says local grad student
From PIQUE News Magazine, by Megan Lalonde
TREES ARE POWERFUL PLAYERS in the fight against climate change, serving as “carbon sinks” that pull greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions out of the atmosphere and improve air quality—but with lumber prices on the rise in recent years, that doesn’t mean they’re priceless.
In terms of dollars, just how valuable is Whistler’s temperate rainforest standing?
That’s one question Whistler-based graduate student Jared Areshenkoff sought to answer through his recent master’s research for Royal Roads University. As part of his research, Areshenkoff evaluated how much carbon the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) trees can effectively store, based on the pollutant’s current and future market price. His research focused on above-ground biomass—so branches, stems, foliage and bark—located within the resort’s boundaries.
“Nearly everything that is considered in today’s world is typically viewed from an economic lens, including the steps needed for climate change mitigation. I wanted to use that same argument in order to put a value on trees within the RMOW that doesn’t include lumber value,” he explained in an email.
“Essentially, what this research is about is providing another argument for protection,” he added in a follow-up conversation.
As Areshenkoff discovered, Whistler’s trees are significantly undervalued.
by Cloe Logan at Canada’s National Observer
Rod Cumberland, a former college professor who has long crusaded against the use of a herbicide called glyphosate, alleges his environmental views cost him his job at the Maritime College of Forest Technology (MCFT) in Fredericton, N.B.
As the August date for his wrongful dismissal trial approaches, he says a suite of emails his lawyer obtained through a freedom-of-information request will prove it.
The emails show his colleagues at the college, as well as Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) staff and forestry players such as J.D. Irving, calling Cumberland’s views on glyphosate biased and stressing he “should not be undermining federal scientists.”
Read the full story
By Robert Hunziker at countercurrents.org
Woody biomass, or burning trees to produce renewable energy, is spreading beyond the shores of Europe, where it’s wildly popular and outpacing solar and wind. It’s headed for Japan and South Korea, where subsidies for woody biomass displace funding for solar and wind. Umm, what’s wrong with this picture?
In order to know specifically what’s wrong it’s pertinent to take notice of the factual details about the integrity of woody biomass to discover whether it’s truly one of the biggest blunders of the 21st century.
Woody biomass is not a viable solution for global warming mitigation purposes. It has been the subject of considerable scientific debate with several voices expressing alarm over the absurd concept of burning trees to reduce global emissions. It’s shocking!
Nevertheless, it is happening right under our collective noses and fully endorsed by the European Union (EU) yet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) does not endorse it. This is proof-positive that absurdity knows no limits.