Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement Survives Greenpeace Misinformation Campaign

Interesting post from Forest2Market’s blog about Greenpeace’s activities after the 2010 Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Suz-Anne Kinney includes a few excerpts from Patrick Moore’s book, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout:

“Ironically, [Greenpeace’s] retreat from science and logic was partly a response to society’s growing acceptance of environmental values. Some activists simply couldn’t make the transition from confrontation to consensus; it was as if they needed a common enemy. When a majority of people decide they agree with all your reasonable ideas the only way you can remain confrontational and antiestablishment is to adopt ever more extreme positions, eventually abandoning science and logic altogether in favor of zero-tolerance policies.”

IMHO, this applies to some, but not all, “ENGOs” in the US, such as the Center for Biological Diversity.

16 thoughts on “Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement Survives Greenpeace Misinformation Campaign”

  1. So Steve “in your humble opinion” the Center for Biological Diversity has abandoned science and logic altogether. Oh, please, do enlighten us more of with your “humble opinion” on this matter by sharing specific examples. Thanks.

    • Matt, little surprised at the tone.

      Your willingness to spend time here discussing, debating and representing the environmental community is noble and appreciated. I’m sure there’s times when you feel like you’re under constant attack. It shows a lot of conviction on your part to stick with your ideals.

      I don’t know Steve Wilent other than what a google search turned up. I’m guessing he’s the editor of the SAF’s forestry source and not the religious actor. I took his “humble” opinion at face value and didn’t read anything into his comment, perhaps I’m missing something though.

      I did notice he said this may apply to “some, but not all” enviro groups. Not trying to patronize you here, but I would think given WWI’s emphasis on education/outreach a more “ambassadorial” tone might be more appropriate in speaking for the non-extremists.

      Just a thought.

      • Thanks JZ. As I’ve said in the past: 1) I stand up for my friends and 2) I respond in kind.

        While you may have taken Steve Wilent’s “humble opinion at face value,” I took Wilent’s clearly expressed opinion that the Center for Biological Diversity has “abandoned science and logic altogether” and asked him for some specific examples, which I suppose he believes one interview from 2009 provides (although I certainly don’t see it).

        Claiming that an organization, which employees quite a few well-respected scientists, has “abandoned science and logic altogether” seems like a pretty bold statement for an editor of SAF’s to make, don’t you think? I mean, what if I made that same exact statement about the timber industry or SAF? Therefore, it’s interesting to me, JZ, how you have no problem with Wilent’s “tone” in this matter. Thanks.

  2. Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Kieran Suckling from High Country News, December 21, 2009. I don’t know if this is available w/o a subscription:

    HCN What role do lawsuits play in your strategy to list endangered species?

    SUCKLING They are one tool in a larger campaign, but we use lawsuits to help shift the balance of power from industry and government agencies, toward protecting endangered species. That plays out on many levels. At its simplest, by obtaining an injunction to shut down logging or prevent the filling of a dam, the power shifts to our hands. The Forest Service needs our agreement to get back to work, and we are in the position of being able to powerfully negotiate the terms of releasing the injunction.

    New injunctions, new species listings and new bad press take a terrible toll on agency morale. When we stop the same timber sale three or four times running, the timber planners want to tear their hair out. They feel like their careers are being mocked and destroyed — and they are. So they become much more willing to play by our rules and at least get something done. Psychological warfare is a very underappreciated aspect of environmental campaigning.

    HCN Were you hindered by not having science degrees?

    SUCKLING No. It was a key to our success. I think the professionalization of the environmental movement has injured it greatly. These kids get degrees in environmental conservation and wildlife management and come looking for jobs in the environmental movement. They’ve bought into resource management values and multiple use by the time they graduate. I’m more interested in hiring philosophers, linguists and poets. The core talent of a successful environmental activist is not science and law. It’s campaigning instinct. That’s not only not taught in the universities, it’s discouraged.

  3. Isn’t expressing opinion standard on this forum? Isn’t that what it’s for? Matthew, I intended no offense to you personally.

    I am editor of The Forestry Source, the monthly newspaper of the Society of American Foresters. I also teach forestry part-time at Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham, Oregon. The opinions I express in The Forestry Source are mine and do not necessarily reflect the positions of SAF or of anyone else. Same goes for any opinions I express here.

    I stand by my opinionated assertion that Moore’s excerpt applies to the Center for Biological Diversity, with the possible exception of “eventually abandoning science and logic altogether in favor of zero-tolerance policies.” I do not know that CBD has literally abandoned science; its tendency to reject compromise and collaboration and rely on lawsuits has a certain logic, as Suckling explained in the HCN interview. To CBD’s credit, it has been a partner in the collaborative White Mountain Stewardship Project and Four Forests Restoration Initiative, both in Arizona.

    Disagree? Great! I look forward to the discussion.

    • Steve, Thanks for explaining yourself further and for backing away from your statement that the Center for Biological Diversity has “abandoned science and logic all together,” which as you’ll notice, was the only beef I had with your opinion, therefore prompting my ‘in kind’ response. I’m also glad that while you claim CBD has “a tendency to abandon compromise and collaboration” you next provide examples of where, in fact, CBD is actively involved with activities that one could deem collaboration and compromise. Onward….

      P.S. Also, Steve, did you give it any thought as to what a post about the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and the Canadian timber industry’s beef with Greenpeace Canada are doing on this site anyway?

      • Matt: I don’t think Steve “backed away” from his opinion at all. I think he clearly stated his thoughts and challenged you to discuss a differing viewpoint — without degenerating into name-calling and mockery.

        JZ is right — you have done a great job of being a proponent of environmental activism and litigation in the face of significant opposition from other contributors (myself included) to this blog. That has been commendable on your part, and worked to the advantage of all of us regular readers by offering a consistent and heartfelt perspective that is clearly supported by your own actions and beliefs. Still, wouldn’t it be to the advantage of WildWest Institute — and to your “friends” that you “stick up for” — to adopt a more reasoned and inviting tone? The objective isn’t to verbally batter our opponents to the ground, but rather win them over with facts, logic, and new ideas. Isn’t it?

        • Bob, Thanks for the advice. As I keep on saying, I respond ‘in kind.’ You also may want to review many of your comments on this site. Bob. Seems like there are a host of examples of where you that will mock and name-call as you see fit. Therefore, if you want the level of discourse on this blog raised, please start with yourself, and I’ll take care of myself. Cool?

          P.S. I’ll also point out that I clearly didn’t call Steve any sort of a name here. Yes, I mocked him for his claim that the Center for Biological Diversity has “abandoned science and logic altogether.” But honestly, what does anyone expect when they make a statement like that?

  4. I posted the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement item because it sheds light on how Greenpeace (and maybe other groups) operate, a topic that is of some interest to federal land managers and anyone interested in federal forest-management planning.

    The portion of Moore’s excerpt in question is “eventually abandoning science and logic altogether in favor of zero-tolerance policies.”

  5. Frankly, I’d like to see more stories about Canadian forestry. For the last 10 years, excluding the last few years of the recession, the British Columbia Ministry of Forestry has deposited $1.2 Billion dollars annually from timber sales into the treasury, at a cost of only $600 million dollars.B.C. has about the same amount of “forested acres” as the entire USFS, and harvests 10 billion board feet. The last time the USFS harvested 10 billion board feet was in 1990 and it had roughly 30,000 employees. Today it has roughly 30,000 employees and harvests 2.5 billion. Now I know they contract out the cost to pump the vault toilets in campgrounds…so I want to know what it is exactly the USFS does?

    No offence to our freinds in the USFS. I’m being facetious here. AS I think I’ve shown in the past, I think the USFS can be pretty effecient on non-litigated forests.It must be depressing to spend a career filling out endless EIS’s to just appease a judge somewhere, knowing that 80% of it doesn’t make a better project and doesn’t do a damn thing for the environment.You might as well take a wheel barrow full of $100 dollar bills out back and burn them in the parking lot. Millions of budget dollars wasted for abstract notions.

    Getting back to Canada, I’d really like to know how they can clearcut tens of thousands of acres, and still have a thriving grizzly bear population.

    On an unrelated note, I was reading an EIS last night for a “collaborative” timber sale on “Smuggler Mountain” within view of the town of Aspen Colorado. Not a huge sale, but it calls for “patch clearcutting” lodgepole pine and mixed conifer in order to facilitate “age diversity.” Forestry has come to Aspen. Nothing explains a clearcut to the liberal elite better than a MPB epidemic. Now I’m gonna guess that about 60% of those responsible for endowing the big name foundations who hand out the big time “environmental grants” in this country probably own a second home in Aspen.You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the winds blowing.

  6. FRankly, I’d like to hear more stories about Canadian forestry. For the last ten years, excluding the last few years of the reccesion, the British Columbia Ministry of Forestry has annually deposited 1.2 billion dollars from timber sales into the treasury for a cost of only $600 million. Just more proof that “below cost timber sales” is an anomaly limited to the USFS. British Columbia has about the same amount of “forested acres” as the USFS, and harvests 10 billion board feet. The last time the USFS harvested that much was in 1990 and it had roughly 30,000 employees. Today it still has 30,000 employees and harvests 2.5 billion. That makes me wonder, and I think I speak for the mass majority in the West, what exactly is it that the USFS does now a days? Of course I’m being facetious here…and I mean no offense to our USFS freinds. I think I’ve shown in the past that the USFS can be pretty damn effecient on non-litigated forests.

    BAck to British Columbie…I’d like to know how the can clearcut tens of thousands of acres and still have a thriving grizzly bear population?

    On an unrelated note…last night I was reading an EIS for a “collaborative” timber sale on Smuggler Mountain which is within view of Aspen Colorado. It’s not a big timber sale by any means, but it calls for “patch clearcutting” lodgepole pine and mixed conifer in order to facilitate “age diversity.” Forestry has come to Aspen. Nothing explains a clearcut better to the liberal elite than a MPB epidemic. Now I’m gonna guess that 70% of those who endow the “big time” foundations that make “big time” environmental grants probably own a second home in Aspen. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the winds blowin.

  7. Hmmm…And Patrick Moore doesn’t even claim to be a “founder” of this group. Wonder what sort of “misinformation campaign” Canopy will be accused of running. Here’s their press release from today announcing their withdrawal from the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement.

    Conservation Group Withdraws From Boreal Forest Agreement With Industry Not One Hectare Of Forest Has Been Protected In Three Years

    For Immediate Release: April 17, 2013

    Vancouver: Canopy, a leading forest conservation group, today announced its withdrawal from the once praised Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA), endorsed by forest industry and environmental groups to protect Canada’s Boreal forest. After almost three years since the agreement was announced, not one hectare of Canada’s Boreal forest has been protected. Canopy has determined more meaningful and timely results for the Boreal forest can be achieved through its work helping to shape the paper purchasing decisions of major consumers.

    “This collaboration with the logging industry was supposed to be a game-­changer for the protection of species and conservation in Canada’s threatened Boreal forest,” said Nicole Rycroft, Founder and Executive Director of Canopy. “The disappointing reality is that not one hectare of forest has been protected and species and ecosystems are still at risk.”

    Launched in 2010 by nine environmental groups, the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) and its 19 member companies, the CBFA established unanimous objectives for large-­scale protection and world‐leading forest practices and positioned Canada’s forest companies to take advantage of the growing green marketplace. In nearly three years of difficult work, the participating groups have been unable to agree on one joint recommendation for protection, while virtually all conservation milestones in the agreement have been missed and target dates for the completion of agreed objectives have been repeatedly shifted.

    “Canopy works with over 700 large corporate consumers of forest products and we will be informing them about the logging reality in Canada,” said Ms. Rycroft. “The decision to leave the CBFA was not taken lightly. We remain committed to collaborative solutions building and hope that by re‐invigorating our markets work we can open the door to large‐scale and timely conservation of the boreal forest.”

    The objective of the CBFA process was to protect Woodland caribou and the integrity of Boreal ecosystems over three years. Given existing science, legislated protection of 50 to 70 percent of Boreal forest habitat is needed to ensure ecological certainty. With the arrival of the third anniversary of the agreement in May, a strong internal push among the remaining parties could result in incremental steps towards achieving a few of the original 76 milestones. Canopy, however, questions whether such outcomes will be at the scale required ecologically.

    Boreal forests are the world’s largest terrestrial carbon sink, storing the equivalent of 26 years of global fossil fuel emissions in the trees, soil, water and peat. Thirty per cent of North America’s bird populations rely on the Boreal forest for breeding. Canada’s Boreal forest contains 80 per cent of the world’s unfrozen fresh water and provides critical habitat for the endangered and iconic Woodland caribou.

    “In a world filled with green claims, Canopy plays a key role in advising publishers and suppliers who are taking meaningful action for our climate and forests,” said Louise Dennys, Executive VP, Random House of Canada (and a Canopy board member). “Given Random House of Canada’s environmental commitment we look to support suppliers who are leading in both forest protection and Forest Stewardship Council certified products from the Boreal forest and beyond.”

    With U.S. housing starts and wood prices on the rise and strong markets emerging for new forest products, pressure on Canada’s Boreal Forest is intensifying. Canopy will be re‐doubling work in the marketplace to advocate for conservation of Canada’s Boreal forest and support forest industry leaders who are delivering on this objective.


    Photos, video and infographics available:

    Background Information:

    Canopy is a not-for-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting forests, species and climate, Canopy believes collaboration is key and that businesses can be a powerful force for solutions, and works with more than 700 companies to help ensure their supply chains are sustainable. Canopy’s partners include Sprint, TC Transcontinental, Scholastic, The Globe and Mail, Random House and Lonely Planet.

    For more information, visit

    • Dang it, Matt: I was just reading along, minding my own business, learning about Canopy and their network of 700 “large corporate consumers,” when I came across this quote: “Given existing science, legislated protection of 50 to 70 percent of Boreal forest habitat is needed to ensure ecological certainty.”

      What in Gore’s Green Earth is “ecological certainty?” And who, exactly, was being given this “existing science?”

      And now they want control of 50% to 70% of “Boreal forest habitat?”

      The obvious question is: If this land were really that important, why don’t the 700 large companies simply pool their resources or lead a fundraising drive to just purchase the half or more of the Boreal forest habitat they want, before the loggers can get to it?

      My more personal concern is how “science” got drug into this discussion. This is obviously a land use issue, yet it’s rationale seems to be based on “existing science” — whatever that might mean — in regards to “ecological certainty,” whatever the heck that is. And, precisely, 50% to 70%. Then, of course, we get hit with a number of additional precise and dubious numbers, as if they, too, were based on the “existing science” that had been given.

      Sounds like politics (again), not science. It’s a zoning or land use issue. Science can be profitably used no matter which direction is taken. If a manager, court of law, or collaborative ultimately makes a decision to do something (and, hopefully, based on the best information available), then science can be used to advantage to help inform decision-makers and to help resource managers achieve whatever objectives they are given.

      These people want to control half or most of an area they’ve described, without paying for it, and they want science (or “existing science”) to be the authority for doing so. And they wanted this done within three years or they were going to raise a fuss. Is that what’s happening here?


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