World Heritage Site Victim of Daishowa Clearcut Logging

Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
FAX: 403-629-3939

Mailing address:
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
FAX: 403-437-0719

September 10, 1991

Enclosed for your information is a newspaper article up-dating the mail-out of last January 10th on the 98% clear cutting of an environmentally significant stand of white spruce located north of traditional Lubicon territory in a Canadian National Park called Wood Buffalo National Park. You'll recall that Wood Buffalo National Park is an area of international ecological importance formally recognized by the United Nations as having the same World Heritage Site status as the Pyramids and the Grand Canyon. You'll also recall that the huge Japanese forestry giant Daishowa is responsible for logging both Wood Buffalo National Park and the unceded traditional Lubicon territory -- in both cases working through wholly-owned subsidiaries rather than under its own name.

The story of Daishowa clear-cutting Wood Buffalo National Park broke in December of 1990 precipitating a massive public outcry. Responding to that massive public outcry Federal Environment Minister Robert de Cotet lamely offered to buy back from a wholly-owned Daishowa subsidiary named Canfor the rights to clear-cut 49,700 hectares of Wood Buffalo National Park. (49,700 hectares is about 122,811 acres, or over 190 square miles, or nearly 500 square kilometres.)

Daishowa representatives shrewdly agreed to talk to Federal representatives about the possibility of selling back the cutting rights in Wood Buffalo National Park while at the same time stepping-up their logging operations there to 24 hours a day. They also announced that they wanted to negotiate "suitable replacement timber rights" from the Alberta Provincial Government -- from whom they've already purchased the hardwood timber rights to 40,710 square kilometres of northern Alberta at the bargain-basement price of only 28 cents per cubic metre. (By way of comparison the same wood costs $10.58 per cubic metre in the neighboring Canadian Province of British Columbia, $22.00 per cubic metre in Austria and a whopping $70.00 per cubic metre in Japan.)

At the time that Daishowa simultaneously agreed to talk and stepped up their logging operations in Wood Buffalo National Park to 24 hours a day, it was obvious to anybody with two brain cells that "suitable" replacement timber" would be hard to come by, that Daishowa would insist upon "suitable replacement timber" from the Province as part of any deal to sell back Wood Buffalo logging rights to the Federal Government, and that Daishowa would engage in as much foot dragging as possible during any such talks while continuing to clear-cut Wood Buffalo National Park 24 hours a day. (It was apparently not obvious to representatives of the Federal and Provincial Governments, or perhaps, as they have both done with the Lubicons on previous occasions, both levels of Canadian Government simply thought that the facade of "negotiations" was the best way to defuse growing public outrage over the appalling pillage going on in Wood Buffalo National Park.)

It's now nearly a year later, the 1991-92 logging season is about to commence, and, as the attached newspaper article reports, the harvesting of trees in Wood Buffalo National Park "will continue for at least another year...(and)...could go on indefinitely if the current negotiations continue as they have for the past few months". Park Superintendent Doug Stewart is quoted as saying "One more year of logging is apparently what their financial strategy has plans for, and, because they have a legal contract with us, there's nothing we can do about that". Moreover there've been no negotiations at all since last May "because no common ground for an agreement has been found".

When the Lubicons sought to enjoin development activity in their unceded traditional territory until the question of their unceded aboriginal land rights could be resolved, both levels of Canadian Government and the development companies argued a legal principle called "the balance of convenience" -- basically that the interests of the majority of Canadians in resource exploitation outweigh the aboriginal land rights of a small number of Canada's first people. Now Federal Government officials argue that nothing can be done to protect the interests of the majority of Canadians and of people around the world in a recognized World Heritage Site because of the supposed contractual logging "rights" of a Japanese forestry company.

In all of this it's easy to see that the only rights and interests of any real concern to either the Mulroney or Getty Governments are the rights and interests of those who seek to continue exploiting Canada's natural resources for the benefit of a small circle of their friends and associates.

THE EDMONTON JOURNAL, Tuesday, September 10, 1991


Ed Struzik

Journal Staff Writer

Fort Smith, N.W.T.

Logging in Wood Buffalo National Park will continue for at least another year whether or not Parks Canada successfully concludes a buy-out of Canadian Forest Product's timber lease.

"My understanding is that even if we terminate the agreement, they would still have to cut for one more year," says park superintendent Doug Stewart. "One more year of logging is apparently what their financial strategy has plans for. And because they have a legal contract with us, there is nothing we can do about that."

The harvesting of trees in Wood Buffalo could go on indefinitely if the current negotiations continue as they have over the past few months. The two sides have not met formally since May because no common ground for an agreement has been found.

In the absence of a buy-out, Canfor has already submitted its annual operating plan for cutting trees in the park this year.

Government sources say the company does not plan to cut quite as many trees this year, although the amount will still be considerable. But the plan calls for cutting in an area that Parks Canada wants preserved. Some of the largest white spruce trees remaining the province are at stake.

Stewart would only say that Parks Canada is reviewing the company's proposal. However, he added that Parks Canada is determined to make sure that Canfor operates in a way that would be acceptable in forestry areas elsewhere in the province.

Provincial officials have already indicated that Canfor would never have been allowed to clear-cut on provincially controlled lands the way it has been clear-cutting in Wood Buffalo over the past decade.

Negotiations with Parks Canada have been complicated by a third party at the table.

Daishowa Canada actually controls the timber lease. It gained control when it purchased Canfor's Alberta operations more than a year ago. To avoid a ministerial review of the lease which expires in 2002, Canfor agreed to maintain its name on the lease even though all the timber goes to Daishowa's High Level operations.

Canfor official Darrel Mawhinney said Monday that the company does not want to comment on either the buy-out negotiations or the proposed operating plan for this year.