The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is facing a citizen complaint before the federal Competition Bureau for certifying old-growth logging as “sustainable”, something it has being doing since 1996 through its Sustainable Forestry Management standards process.
The complaint by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and five others asks the Bureau to review the CSA’s certification, Ecojustice reports in a release. Calling the current process “a scam,” Ecojustice writes that the CSA neither prescribes nor requires that logging “meet any definition of sustainability.”
This lack of standard-setting rigour has consequences beyond accelerating the destruction of climate-stabilizing forest ecosystems, the Vancouver-based legal charity adds. “It also skews competition in the marketplace by disadvantaging legitimately sustainable products that then appear more expensive and less attractive by comparison.”
If the challenge succeeds, the group says the CSA should “be required to publicly retract the sustainability claims, and pay a C$10 million fine, which could go toward supporting conservation projects such as the Indigenous Leadership Initiative for Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas,” Ecojustice says.
Meanwhile, new research is calling for a big-picture approach to preventing deforestation, in preference to smaller efforts to plant new trees.
“Every 15 minutes the world loses an area of tropical forest equal to the size of New York’s Central Park,” say the authors of a new policy paper authored by U.S.-based Emergent in partnership with several organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). That level of destruction also delivers 100,000 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere.
“Trying to sequester this carbon in a year would require planting 50 times as much forest as was lost,” the authors add.
The paper calls for private companies to help national and regional governments prevent forest destruction, rather than engaging in siloed and small-scale efforts to plant new trees, Reuters reports.
While governments in the developing world currently receive about US$1 billion per year to fund tropical forest protection, “tens of billions of dollars more are needed,” Frances Seymour, a forests and sustainability expert with the World Resources Institute, told Reuters. But a private sector working to leverage untapped demand in the global carbon market could fill that gap, she said. “Such demand could incentivize governments to do what only governments can do—actions to protect forests, such as recognizing Indigenous rights, enforcing the law, and regulating commercial forest exploitation more effectively.”
But the solution calls for more than dollars. “The drivers of deforestation are complex, often entwined with corruption, organized crime, and poverty, making them particularly hard to address,” writes Reuters, citing Giancarlo Raschio, a senior manager at the carbon offset registry Gold Standard. “It’s not only a matter of having more resources,” said Raschio.