It has put out a call for proposals for a consultant to help it pursue an environmental management registration from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
ISO 14001 is a management system used by many industries that helps organizations establish environmental targets, standardize of policy and train employees, among other things.
Provincial Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale said the move could help this province’s forestry industry. Certification is especially important for the marketing of wood products to Europe, she said.
“By having certification for all our Crown forests, it means that producers that work off those lots can market their products under a certifier’s label, which has the potential to expand market access for them, and can often increase the value of the products produced,” she said.
The standard does not outline specific environmental performance goals, but certification on a provincial level will help companies to get their forest management planning and practices in line with a forestry-specific set of guidelines, Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) standards.
Ian Warkentin, an environmental scientist at Memorial University’s Corner Brook campus who studies the impact of forestry practices on wildlife, said forestry management under the ISO standard is a positive step.
“This is an effort to make the management of this province’s forests more environmentally responsible,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing.”
“By having certification for all our Crown forests, it means that producers that work off those lots can market their products under a certifier’s label, which has the potential to expand market access for them, and can often increase the value of the products produced,” - Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderdale
But he said, he’s concerned about the scope of the risk assessment involved in the process.
“There’s still lots of things we don’t know about when we go and harvest the forest. If we start to go and make bigger and bigger cuts, or we start to cut higher proportions of the broader landscape, we’ve got less of a sense of that. So we don’t know what the impact of that is, so how do we assess that?”
He said he would like forest management to look further into the future, incorporating concerns about how forestry activities affect animal populations such as the caribou.
The decision to pursue the standard was made in this year’s provincial budget. Initially, it will cost $375,000 for the certification consultant to establish standards and to complete an audit to make sure practices are being followed. After that, there will be an annual cost of about $50,000.
Dunderdale said the government should be able to establish a timeline after the consultant is in place.
The province will be the second in the country to adopt these management practices, after Sask-atchewan in 2003. In other provinces, environmental certification has been pursued on a regional and company-wide basis through a variety of certification schemes.
Kruger’s pulp and paper operations in Corner Brook have already received ISO and SFM certification.