Environmentalists recognize DMI for forest stewardship excellence

Peace River, Alberta
August 2, 2005

Environmentalists recognize DMI for forest stewardship excellence

By Mark Rieder – R-G Staff

Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd. (DMI) got a passing grade for their forestry conservation practices from Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).

CPAWS, an environmental watch dog group, gave DMI and Al-Pac a ‘B’ in how they are meeting guidelines for forest stewardship.
“It wasn’t an ‘A’ because some elements have yet to happen,” said Rick Schneider, with CPAWS’ Edmonton office, “but compared to the other companies, there was at least a serious attempt to work towards getting there.”

CPAWS based their results on accepted standards at both the provincial and federal government levels. “Our gold standard was a combination of the Alberta Forest Conservation Strategy and the Forest Stewardship Council boreal certification standard,” said Schneider. Tim Barker, senior advisor of forest management with DMI, said the company helped set up the guidelines they were measured by in the CPAWS report.

“DMI was a founding member of the committee of forest industry players that developed the conservation strategy,” he said,
“so it was not surprising to us that our forest management practices aligned with the forest conservation strategy.”Schneider said Al-Pac and DMI are years ahead of other forestry companies operating in the province when it comes to forest stewardship.

“Both of those companies, in our view, based on what is in their management plans, are working towards most of elements in our gold standard,” said Schneider. Barker said DMI has been working with these guidelines for quite a few years. He said one of the key principals to their management plan is they remove trees in a way that represents the area they cut.”We’re going to maintain all of the representative pieces of the ecosystem,” said Barker.

Schneider explained one reason for the grade was DMI’s attempts to work with other companies or quota holders to use cut areas to the highest possible efficiency.Both of those companies have been trying to work with the smaller companies to coordinate their operations,” he said,adding some of the quota holders are slower to respond to the system. So that’s holding them back on some of the things,” he said. Schneider said the biggest hold back is oil and gas companies, which are not held to the same stringent standards when it comes to forest management. “They’re not tied to any kind of long term management plan, it’s just going out and getting the oil and gas as fast as possible,” he said.

DMI also had set aside a large area around the Chinchaga wildland as a protected area but then reduced it’s size. “They’re still left with an obligation to have some kind of a benchmark available, a control site if you will, to the work that they’re doing on their own managed land base and that seems to have stalled,” said Schneider.

“The bigger news for us is that the other companies are so far behind, for example they are taking out all their old growth and that’s the message we’ve been pumping,” he said. Schneider explained that DMI and Al-Pac prove responsible stewardship can be done.” These two companies are showing that it is possible,” he said.

DMI is looking to the future and making plans to bring in practices that will afford them a higher rating in the report.”We’re currently beginning work on the next round of management planning there’s still some more pieces of ecological management that we need to implement and we’re working on those,” said Barker. One such plan where the company works to maintain representative species diversity within a small harvest block. “We’re still learning how to do that, what works best,” he said.

Barker said he sees the approach CPAWS used in gathering information for the report and the way it was presented as anew page for conservation groups. He said they have turned from being confrontational to working in a more co-operative way of meeting their goals with industry.

Al-Pac and DMI are the only companies operating in Alberta that do not have plans to remove their old growth within their managemant areas, according to CPAWS. CPAWS also calls for minimum standards to be set within the new Forest Management Planning Manual.

Barker concluded he thinks the reason DMI did so well in the report was they have a long term vision in mind for their forestry practices.

“Forest Management is a never-ending process…we strive to continually improve,” he said.