NRDC Continues Pattern of Intellectual Dishonesty and Ignores Concerns of Boreal Communities in Latest Blog Post

Ignoring concerns from people who actually live in the region they claim to be defending, NRDC has published another misleading blog post, this time about imaginary discrepancies in how Canadian forestry is regulated.  Two Washington, D.C.-based lawyers on NRDC staff, Anthony Swift and Joshua Axelrod, attempt to cast doubt on the findings of a Yale University study concluding that the Canadian boreal is one of the world’s best regulated and well-managed forests.[1] Their speculation is baseless, but maybe the truth isn’t enough to drum up donations?

NRDC refers to “a mounting body of evidence” that “not all is well” in the great northern forest. But they are woefully short on specifics and despite their claim to be interested in “enforcement and compliance,” Swift and Axelrod never mention a single compliance rate, offering instead only reckless insinuations.

Here are some other points Swift and Axelrod curiously leave out:

The Canadian boreal forest is thriving.

You would never know from the authors’ alarmism that only 0.2% of Canada’s boreal forest is harvested each year[2]- that’s a fraction of what is disturbed annually by natural causes like forest fires and disease, that Natural Resources Canada places the deforestation rate at virtually zero[3], or that the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization has gone on record as describing the Canadian boreal as in no way “endangered.”[4]

Canada’s forestry laws are strict-and they are enforced.

Swift and Axelrod’s entire argument is built around the fact that the Yale University study did not look at actual compliance with the laws and regulations they named “among the world’s best.” Citing exactly zero evidence, the authors insinuate that Canadian companies fail to comply.

The reality is that Canada ranks among the best countries on earth in terms of governance criteria. The Forest Stewardship Council™ itself recognized this in a Risk Assessment it performed of illegal logging in Canada.[5] And, according to the 2015 World Bank Governance Index, Canada ranks respectively at 94%, 95% and 94% on global scales of Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption.[6]

Forest regeneration is a complex process - it’s not as simple as planting a tree.

 For example, in some areas it makes more sense to encourage natural regeneration than to intervene through seeding or planting. No matter the method of regeneration in a given area, the process is closely monitored and highly regulated.

NRDC claims that regeneration of forests after harvest “may be well below 70% in many places,” short of the legal requirement across Canada for 100% regeneration on public lands. But in areas where Resolute operates, regeneration compliance was found to be at 98% after over 3,000 inspections.[7]

Canada’s forest products industry works closely with governments to protect endangered species like caribou.

Swift and Axelrod’s bias is evident in their discussion of woodland caribou. They claim that, “Ontario has specifically exempted logging companies from the provincial Endangered Species Act.” The truth is that Ontario passed regulatory changes[8] in an effort to “harmonize” the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and “reduce redundancies” with the well-established and enforced Crown Forest Sustainability Act (CFSA). Under these changes, a further 65 species were added under advisement and forestry companies remained subject to the same responsibilities with regard to species conservation. At the time, Minister of Natural Resources (MNR) David Orazietti referred to the changes as the “gold standard” for species at risk.

In the areas where Resolute operates, almost 75% of woodland caribou range is off limits to the forest products industry, and in the area that is accessible, 38% in Quebec and a further 34% in Ontario have been set aside for conservation and other purposes.[10]

NRDC has ignored questions and concerns from thousands in boreal communities.

It has now been more than 12 weeks since a wide and varied group of stakeholders wrote letters directly to NRDC’s director, Rhea Suh. Community leaders representing impacted towns, union leaders speaking for workers, and trade groups representing businesses throughout Quebec and Ontario reached out in good faith to ask questions and share concerns that NRDC’s claims didn’t represent the reality of the boreal and put their livelihoods and families at risk.

How does NRDC justify its disparagements about Canadian forestry when its leadership does not appear to have visited these boreal communities or answered concerns about the harm NRDC is causing? Is NRDC colluding with Greenpeace? Most importantly, when will NRDC leadership commit to meeting in person, in Quebec and Ontario with these tens of thousands of stakeholders to actually make good on the dialogue NRDC claims to want?

Those were the kinds of questions that were posed to NRDC leadership. So far, NRDC has left many of these concerns unanswered and appears uninterested in accountability. Instead, they focus on dangerously misrepresenting the on-the-ground reality of the Canadian boreal. Like Greenpeace, NRDC has yet to answer questions presented to them by tens of thousands of people who are most affected by their deceptions.

But collaboration with First Nations, communities, and a range of other stakeholders is the cornerstone of Resolute’s businesses model. That’s why Resolute is standing up to the misinformation of NRDC, Greenpeace, and their allies. We cannot stand idly by while the livelihoods and families of our employees, customers, neighbors, and communities are threatened.

[1] 2004. Yale University. Global Environmental Forest Policies: Canada as a Constant Case Comparison of Select Forest Practice Regulations.

[2] 2014. Government of Canada-Natural Resources Canada. The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report 2014.

[3] 2014. Government of Canada-Natural Resources Canada. Deforestation in Canada: The Facts.

[4] 2010. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Global Forest Assessment.

[5] 2015. Forest Stewardship Council. FSC International Centralized Risk Assessment for Canada.

[6] 2017. World Bank. Worldwide Governance Indicators.


[8] 2013. The Dryden Observer. Forestry Exempted from Endangered Species Act.

[10] 2016. Resolute calculations. Detailed calculations available upon request. Results from Resolute Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping analysis conducted in Ontario and the Fiche Thématique de Québec from the Quebec Forestry Office.