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Evidence of meeting #29 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was young.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Monte Hummel  Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
Bradley Young  Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

3:55 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

It's the licensed boreal forest that we're talking about.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

All right. Thank you.

Can you give me an example of, let's say, the most specific management program that would describe the actual implementation of the agreement?

3:55 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

Sure. We're working on one in northeastern Ontario right now, for example, where there are first nations interests and communities, and traditional use and territory. There are woodland caribou present. There are two companies that have very large forest management plans for forests that they're harvesting for commercial purposes. We're talking about two million to three million hectares. It's a large area.

In working with the companies and with the communities, our challenge has been to come up with a plan that accommodates the needs of the woodland caribou, accommodates the aspirations of the communities that are there, and also meets the wood volume needs of the companies that are involved.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

What did that look like?

3:55 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

We're proposing a zoned approach to it, which is new. The province has one approach, which is sort of a mosaic-cutting pattern. We've proposed a sort of zoned approach whereby the intact forest is left intact and there's more intensive management on the part of the forest that's already been disturbed. I want to emphasize that this kind of thinking and negotiation and discussion with companies and communities needs to deliver not just conservation-wise, but it needs to deliver those cubic metres that the mills need, as well as meeting the traditional uses of the communities. It's a different approach, which we take to government and say, look, we think we can meet the needs of the long-term management direction of the government for this area. We're meeting your overall objectives, but through discussions with the companies, communities, and other interests we think we have a different way of getting there. Often the situation will be polarized and people will be at each other's throats. What we try to deliver is a solution to government. It's up to government as to whether it wants to accept it and act on it.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Regarding the specific strategic you mentioned for the woodland caribou, was there success in achieving a consensus?

4 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

We think we have consensus between some of the parties. We're still actually talking about something we have not put on the table yet—we're still putting it together—but we're very close. All indications are that this is going to happen.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Very good.

4 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

It involves a great deal of technical work, of modelling, of disturbance regimes, and of wood supply analysis. It's a very technical job. I'm a forester by training and that helps. Let me put it that way.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

The next seven minutes is Mr. Choquette's.

4 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I would also like to thank the witnesses.

I will start with Mr. Young, since Mr. Hummel had the honour of answering the first questions. But Mr. Hummel, you can also answer my question afterwards.

As you know, the conference of the signatory parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity has established a conservation target of 17% of terrestrial areas and 10% of marine areas. Right now, we are only at 10% for terrestrial areas and 1% for marine areas in Canada.

In your view, what should Canada's targets be? Should the target be 20% by 2020? What should the targets be for terrestrial areas and marine areas?

4 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

Thank you for the question.

In terms of the specific technical answer, I have no number out of the air that I can refer to. What should happen is that the local first nations, regional nations, and the larger first nations technical groups who would be speaking for the territories where these percentages are going to be deployed should be involved in a really robust process that is, I would say, partly co-led by them. Instead of being worked with, the first nations and the various governments of the land should be talking at a government-to-government level.

The other supporting actors such as ENGOs or policy groups could then fill in with expert technical advice. Because we're dealing with setting aside, conserving, and basically determining the management regime and the operational flow of these land bases at a very high level, an internationally binding level, there should be a very hard look at the rigour of involvement, participation, and investment there.

4 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

I am going to stop you there, Mr. Young, and I apologize for that.

Let me ask you another question. The Canadian boreal initiative proposes to protect 50% of the protected areas of the boreal forest.

What do you think about that? What is your opinion?

4 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

We've heard the various numbers, and again, I have nothing, and nothing has been provided to NAFA, to substantiate any of that talk. In terms of an overall goal of 50%, boy, there are a lot of ways you can skin that cat, so to speak.

Again, I would caution that when you're talking about basically determining the type of development and the types of activities that can be undertaken on traditional lands flowing from first nations territories...people are not going to be moving from their territories any time soon. A leadership position for those communities and for the affected peoples, the rights holders, should be put into place immediately to peel back whatever number, whether it's 5%, 10%, 17%, or 50%. Those communities and the representative voices need to be in actual leadership, government-to-government positions to really adjudicate on those matters.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

I will come back to you later.

I would just like to ask Mr. Hummel whether he agrees with the 20% for protected lands, for example, or at least whether he is in favour of pursuing the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Do you think that it should be specified somewhere that the Government of Canada has to make firm and absolute commitments in terms of the percentage?

4:05 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

I'm very familiar with this percentage argument, and I think it's somewhat artificial. I actually agree with a lot of what Bradley said. I think the percentage of what's conserved or protected should be an output of something else. I think the key is not just the quantity, but the quality of what we protect or conserve.

I headed up the Endangered Spaces campaign. Its goal was to establish a representative system of protected areas in Canada representing all the natural regions of the country. During the 1990s, there were 486 natural regions in Canada. The idea there was just to have baseline representative samples of our natural mosiac. That's an ecological goal; it's not a per cent goal. So I would argue to have an ecological goal and a cultural goal working with first nations, and let the percentage fall where it may.

I was also one of the founders of the boreal framework, which put that 50% number out there. I would observe that when communities are left to their own devices, and they aren't whispered into the ear by big conservation groups, big governments, or big companies, they've tended to protect about 50% of their territory by their own choice. So the 50% does have a historical precedent.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Thank you very much. I apologize for somewhat rushing you, but my time is limited.

I just have a quick question for both of you. I will start with Mr. Young.

Should the national conservation plan pay attention to climate change or action on climate change? Should this be included in our national conservation plan?

4:05 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

I would argue not just climate change, as per the content that I've shared in my opening statements. I think there's a convergence of issues that need to be considered over the land base. These issues are climate change, economic development, and the different sectors that are going to be engaging in this economic development. There are also the different peoples and the migration patterns in terms of urban/rural. There's so much there. There's so much complexity there that I think we need really workable, functional goals in terms of an ecological model, in terms of first nations, in terms of a respectful rights base model, and in terms of the other aspects and players in government and in society who look for prosperity and economic development. Then I guess it's roll up the sleeves and get to work.

I've only seen the national conservation plan referred to in the throne speech, and then in some of the preliminary feeders out there.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Mark Warawa

Time has expired. Thank you.

Mr. Toet, you have seven minutes.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses.

I wanted to touch a little bit on the whole aspect that you both touched on; that is, economic growth and conservation working together side by side, and that there's differentiation. Mr. Young, you touched on it a little bit also. We always have this implication of conservation areas as just drawing a bunch of lines on a map around a certain spot and saying, you can do this and you can't do that. How do you see the integration of those two things working together in a real way? Just give us an example of how you would see that coming together.

4:05 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

Okay. Thank you for the question.

I think from a first nations perspective, from a community that's on the ground, that's been there from time immemorial, what they tend to do is lay out, in terms of a traditional ecological study, some form of map that kind of shows where they have been, their special sites, and where there are activities they're engaging in. Then they start to build in other considerations.

I can share from my personal background from northern Manitoba what we did in terms of not actually developing a discrete map but having a relationship with the local forest management and the company to where they had a foreman from our community, we had subcontracting loggers, and they just kind of managed to move around operations outside of sensitive areas and go into areas that were okay, kind of building it on the ground on a management level.

Now it's progressed, in the year 2012, to where there are actual agreements. There are performance targets, with a legal technical expression of that now. And I think that's what should happen. You should build up from the community's connections to their traditional land base and then have them involved in a dialogue so that they know here are these opportunities, and here are these other opportunities.

In my neck of the woods, we have a gasping Tolko FMA, FMU. The guys are just barely holding on to their jobs as loggers, as silviculturists, as tree planters. There's talk of mines coming in. People are interested in that, but people are also still hunting, fishing, and trapping. They enjoy the spiritual sites out there, and the connectivity of the traditional land base.

So there you have it: a personal kind of perspective and an intellectual little journey, I guess, on how I think it should be played out. To do that work is, I will say, tremendously taxing on the community. It takes a lot of resources and a lot of good faith between the government units that are putting it together, right?

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you.

Mr. Hummel, just to build on that a little bit, in your presentation you did touch on how the people in forestry and the fishers are natural conservationists and, going back to what Mr. Young was saying there, how they can work together.

Can you just expand a little bit on that natural integration of those two groups, and how they can work together efficiently in a conservation plan?

4:10 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

I think that often what people want for an area, their aspirations or their desired future, gets articulated in something like a land use plan, which is I think what Bradley was talking about as well.

To me, a land use plan should reflect the desired future of the people who live there. It inevitably will include both conservation elements as well as economic development interests. It may be zoning. It may be setting out conformity requirements, or ground rules for activity in the area. But it needs to reflect the views and the wishes of the people who live there.

I really believe that conservation will not be embraced unless it serves a useful economic and cultural purpose for the people who live there. I agree with this fortress mentality thing; you can't shove it down people's throats.

So there's really no other way to do it than to bring two interests, the economic interest and the conservation interest, together.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

I guess the other tendency we have, when we talk about these plans—this is what happens when we start talking about percentages of areas, etc.—is that we right away equate size with actually having accomplished something. The bigger it is, the better we've done, so to speak.

Both of you have kind of indicated—and I'll leave this to both of you to maybe answer—that size isn't the biggest issue. I would even argue, from some of the discussions we've had with some of the other witnesses who've been here, that it's bringing the knowledge to the urban community, so to speak, or being able to bring the urban community to that conservation area.

Do you have any ideas and thoughts on how we could integrate those two things together? I think the need for young people in urban centres to have a better understanding of conservation is very critical to this actually succeeding.

Maybe both of you could touch on it, just quickly.

4:10 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

You've actually touched upon a really critical area, not only in terms of the non-indigenous population, the general population, but also in terms of the aboriginal population, that I would say in many respects are seething in the cauldron of the inner city, that have no connection back to their traditional territories—the culture, the teachings, the elders, the language, the grounding influence of watching a stream go by, having fresh air around you; that head space, that good frame of mind.

I think that will be a critical component for an NCP, that connecting back from the urban centres so that we have an awareness, not only in the indigenous community but also in the non-indigenous community, of where the actual prosperity comes from, where our air comes from—air comes from trees—and where all these ecological services are generated that we benefit from.

But I don't want to.... I'm watching the time here.

Monte, go ahead.