The Failures of Forest Certification - And the Implications for the Public Wealth of the Canadian North
Today's all-out assault by the combined forces of Canada's powerful environmental movement on the so-called dirty oil of the oil sands has its precursor in recent history. The present environmental movement cut its teeth with its incursion into Canadian forestry, once the dominant resource extraction industry in Canada. Environmental activists, NGOs and foundations presented forest certi cation as the solution to the international campaign launched against the forestry industry in the 1990s. Certify forests, Canada's foresters were told, and the campaigns will stop. The campaigns did not stop, and forest certi cation is proving to be destructive of the resource, the greater economy, the communities where working forests are located and forestry's once-critical contribution to the public purse. Further, evidence is beginning to show that the environmental model used by forest certi cation is destructive of the forest biosphere itself. As well, despite forest certi cation being in e ect for almost 20 years, there have been few independent audits1 of the success of forest certi cation, meaning existing problems have only increased. This paper will show that the e ect on forestry was a drawdown of the value of the resource and its wealth- creating e ect of between 40 per cent and 60 per cent. For smaller private forestry operations, it is as much as 400 per cent. Certi cation, which was forced on a fully modern industry, has set forestry back a generation. Forest certi cation needs reform in order to restore Canada's forests to a state of economic and environmental health. Currently, environmental NGOs are pressing certi cation onto the aggregate industry in Ontario. Given the campaign against pipelines, the oil sands and fracking, the certi cation model developed for forestry will be presented as a solution to "public" unrest, as well as to any future exploration and extraction in Canada's North. This will occur at a most inconvenient time: when Canada needs to grow its economy in order to meet its debt and unfunded liabilities, particularly those of universal health care and the aging population. Based on a C.D. Howe Institute report by the former president of the Bank of Canada, David Dodge, The president of the Institute, Bill Robson, calculated the 'net unfunded liability' implied by population aging – promises to pay, mostly for healthcare, for which no funds have been set aside – at $2.8-trillion. If nothing were done, he estimates this would entail an increase in annual expenditures of about seven percentage points of GDP: as much as the federal government collects every year in personal income taxes.