Market Action - Act now for change
We’re engaging the power of consumers just like you, small or big, through a market action to reform forest management in the southern headwaters for the Prairie Provinces; specifically within the 3,518 square kilometer Crowsnest Forest, which is located at the head of the South Saskatchewan River system in the Rocky Mountains between Kananaskis Country west of Calgary and the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The Crowsnest Forest falls within the international Crown of the Continent geotourism area. Through the market action, we’re also intent on heading off clear-cut logging set to start as early as this June in the heart of the Castle Special Place protected area, located at its southern end.
Southern Alberta isn’t short of fence posts or lumber. We’re short of the three big Ws; water, wildlife habitat and wilderness, including for outdoor recreation and tourism. As seen on the map, very little of the Forest Reserve is left as intact landscapes of 10 square kilometers (what most people could walk across in an hour and a half) or more in size.
Larger Map of Crowsnest Forest & Castle logging license
CLICK HERE TO SENT YOUR LETTER TO THE COMPANY & MINISTER
By not purchasing wood products from the Crowsnest Forest (C5), retailers and citizens alike will be encouraging the logging company, Spray Lake Sawmills (SLS) and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development to reverse the Castle logging decision and for the rest of the Crowsnest Forest, to enter into a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification process, thereby change practices to meet the strict social and environmental standards of FSC. SLS is the only commercial sawmill logging in the Crowsnest Forest. Its mill is located in Cochrane, west of Calgary.
Eighty-seven lumber retailers in southwest Alberta have received letters asking them to decline selling SLS wood logged in the Crowsnest Forest and instead sell FSC certified wood, until the Castle is off the chopping block and the company along with Alberta Sustainable Resource Development have reformed forest management practices in the whole Crowsnest Forest through a Forest Stewardship Council certification process.
HOW YOU CAN HELP – STEPS AT YOUR LOCAL WOOD RETAILER
Market action is one of the best ways we can all help the two dozen local businesses and the national Mountain Equipment Coop who together issued a Tourism and Recreation Industry Advisory about Alberta’s lack of protection for environmentally significant areas.
SLS also logs in the Bow Forest, which is located in the South Saskatchewan planning region, upstream of Calgary. The current market action is not against the sale of wood from the Bow Forest. There the company through an independent FSC assessment firm has completed a pre-assessment to determine if they will enter into an FSC certification process for the Bow Forest.
Organizations Leading the Market Action
They are those under the umbrella of the Alberta Foothills Network, including the nation-wide Sierra Club Canada and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the local Castle-Crown Wilderness Coalition and the Alberta Wilderness Association. Other organizations such as Rainforest Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council are lending their names in support.
The Crowsnest Forest
The Crowsnest Forest is the southern and most narrow part of the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve, which is public land set aside from settlement in 1911.
“These forests are areas of non-agricultural land established for the protection and reproduction of timber, for the protection of watersheds, and for the maintenance of conditions favourable to a continuous water supply and for the protection of animals, birds and fish. The scenic and re-creational values of these forests are now deemed to be resources of major importance.” (Forest Service 1928, The Bow River National Forest, Alberta. Dept. of the Interior, Dominion of Canada pamphlet)
It was described as “an area dedicated to watershed management. It is also referred to as a conservation area.” From 1947 to 1960 it was recognized that it is “such an important area to the nation that it was placed under the control of a joint federal-provincial agency called the Eastern Rockies Conservation Board. … It is the duty of the Board to protect and manage the Reserve so that its yield of water will continue to support the expanding agricultural, industrial, and social needs of the fast-growing West.” (Eastern Rockies Forest Conservation Board 1955, The Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve).
Public hearings held on the Eastern Slopes region by Alberta in 1974, including the Crowsnest Forest and the resulting policy (1979 and revised 1984) placed the priority on watershed protection.
The Collector of Great Reserves of Water
“A particular property of the Eastern Slopes is to act as the collector of great reserves of water during the winter months which it then releases to become the source of all the rivers that move to the east and to the north in the Prairie Provinces [Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba].” (Environment Conservation Authority 1974)
Together with Waterton Lakes National Park, the Crowsnest Forest is the headwaters of the Oldman River Basin of southern Alberta, which encompasses 70 municipalities including the City of Lethbridge.
Water’s equivalent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy in its 2007 Lessons for Canada and Alberta (see page 90-91) points to the importance of undertaking headwater (upland watershed) protection in the face of significantly reduced water flows in the Saskatchewan River system of Canada’s Prairie Provinces. For the headwaters of the Oldman River Basin – the Crowsnest Forest – it reports that it “may be a good candidate for special watershed protection” and goes on to state that the proposed park for the Castle Special Place “will pay for itself over and over again in the value of the ecological services it provides alone.”
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification
FSC is an international certification and labeling system for wood products and is the only one jointly recognized by industry, First Nations, and social and environmental organizations. FSC certifications, if granted, are tied to a forest and the products of that forest; not to a particular company as a whole. That is because more than one company can be operating in a forests, or a company can be operating in more than one forest with only one of those forests and thus the products from only that forest, being FSC certified.
Wood and fibre from certified forests are tracked all the way from that forest to the consumer through the chain of custody certification system. Forests are certified against a set of strict environmental and social standards; standards that include adequate protected areas and community involvement. For more information on the FSC requirements check out their Principles & Criteria.
Water & Forests
“There are three elements or objectives in watershed management: quantity, quality, and timing. … Consider, for example, a virgin forest... Such forests produce the highest quality of water and, because forests are cooler and moister than open areas, they tend to delay snow melt. Since an important objective in timing is to delay snow melt as long as possible, this is a desirable feature…
An area which has been cleared of forest cover, either by fire or timber harvesting, experiences a substantial increase in water production … Forest openings are hotter and drier and, because of this, the increased volume tends to be available as an increment on peak flows [peak flows are spring highwater or floods], rather than spread out later into the summer as is the case with a virgin forest. The quality of this increased water also tends to be lower. …
If forest clearing is the result of harvesting, another factor enters … the forest access roads… Here, unless great care, good planning and, frequently, a substantial investment is provided, major degradation of water quality can result.” (Environment Council of Alberta 1979, Management of Water Resources within the Oldman River Basin: Report and Recommendations)