BUSINESS

Resolute given one-year extension to regain FSC certification on Quebec land

07/02/2015 04:22 EDT | Updated 07/02/2016 05:59 EDT
MONTREAL - Resolute Forest Products has received a one-year extension to secure confirmation from an independent auditor that it is using responsible forestry management practices in an area of Quebec's Lac-St-Jean region.

The Quebec-based company's says the auditor, the Rainforest Alliance which suspected its certification in late 2013, has accepted a joint request for an extension from the company and the Forest Stewardship Council.

A previous six-month extension to secure so-called FSC certification expired at midnight Wednesday night.

Resolute vice-president Seth Kursman says the delay will give the provincial government additional time to finalize its plan for caribou and address territorial disputes with the Cree and Innu First Nations.

"These issues are between the provincial government and those stakeholders. These are not issues that are within the purview of Resolute to resolve," he said in an interview.

Greenpeace co-ordinator Richard Brooks said in a news release that it hopes the company will use this "last chance" extension to "finally work collaboratively to strengthen their forestry practices."

The environmental group said Rainforest Alliance found in 2013 that Resolute failed to meet FSC standards, finding there was insufficient protection for species at risk, lack of suitable conservation of old growth areas, inadequate plans to maintain high conservation values and weak monitoring programs.

Greenpeace, which has long feuded with Resolute over its forestry practices, claimed the issues are entirely within the responsibility and jurisdiction of the company to address.

Kursman accused Greenpeace of once again "being misinformed, making inaccurate and deceptive allegations" since the issues are within the jurisdiction of the Quebec government.

Premier Phillipe Couillard said following an economic announcement in Roberval that the extension was a step in the right direction. He said talks with the Cree are "almost ended."

Earlier this year, Resolute settled a $400,000 lawsuit with the Rainforest Alliance over audits of its forests in Northern Ontario.