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Sustainable forest management growing in South America

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
March 9, 2011
Publisher Name: 
The Western Star
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CORNER BROOK — The essential elements of sustainable forest management in Newfoundland and Labrador are being learned and implemented in some South American countries.

The creation of a criterion indicator program for monitoring and evaluating forest management in Canada is being adopted as a model for other countries. That program was widely established through the work of the Model Forest of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This program, now regarded as a certification measure, has been established in Argentina, through a partnership with Canadian officials. Over the past five years, Sean Dolter, general manager of Newfoundland’s model forest, has been part of a team working in the South American country to establish criterion indicator training modules there. A part of Argentina’s commitment to learning the sustainable forest management practices was to, in turn, teach the program to other countries.

Dolter, who has worked in close partnership with Argentinean officials, recently was witness to this exchange of knowledge as the training was passed on to forest management and government officials in the other southern cone countries of Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil.

“If you look at globalization and if you look at the ability to export ... it doesn’t matter if it is soy bean, tobacco, or whatever, the markets are beginning to demand we contract our impact upon the environment,” Dolter said.

He said the goal is for any forest products developed in Argentina would receive a certification based on its recognized sustainable forest management practices. He said the key is for the markets to look for products from a “responsible” country which limits its impact on its forests and/or uses fair labour practices.

Dolter said the principle is to establish a marketplace which permits developing countries to compete globally. He said it would also create a fair marketplace for Canada.

The general manager said the experience was not all about teaching, that they learned a few lessons themselves along the way.

“They taught us a lot about how to do things on very small budgets, comparable to Canada,” he said.

It was also an eye-opening experience.

“Our definition of poverty, when I look at rural forest-dependent communities in Canada, is no way even comparable to their definition of poverty,” he said. “We still have some social programs, in some parts of Argentina it is very, very little.

“It was interesting to see a program we had been working with, but with a whole bunch of different elements.”

Dolter also said black markets are a challenge in these countries, where government does not have information with respect to harvesting and economic returns. On a lesser scale, he compared it to the cutting and sale of firewood here.

“Every one gets firewood and quite a few people pay cash for it,” he said. “It is an impact upon our forest, yet we have a bit of an issue trying to record a feature like that.”

While the international standard is growing in its recognition and acceptance, Dolter said there is much work to be done. He said the goal is to have reporting of South American forests under one system.

“There is a tiny bit of reluctance when you start getting into the rainforest areas, but that is the meat,” he said. “If we can start getting into rainforests and applying some of these measures there, I think the lungs of the earth may be a little bit further along.”

He is hoping the progress thus far creates a snowball effect, even in that hot South American climate.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut