The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

The boreal forest of Canada is one of the most important and biologically important ecosystems on the planet, as well as the source of supplies for some of Canada's most key natural resource sectors (Initiative, Canadian Boreal et al, 2010 p 9). Seeing this, environmental and forest organizations in Canada joined forces to form the Canadian Boreal Forest Accord (CBFA) in 2010, ushering in an unique and unparalleled approach to resource management and protection (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 16). The Collective Impact paradigm is used in this research to reflect on the development and growth of the CBFA. The article further examines whether Collective Impact provides more understanding of how this work could continue as they change from Organizing for Impact to Sustaining Action and Impact.


Canada's boreal forest constitutes a quarter of the earth's undisturbed or intact forest ecosystems and most of Canada's remainder of wilderness. This extensive area houses nearly 600 communities of First Nations that are yet to reconcile the rights of Aboriginal and Treaty to formally share activities such as fishing and hunting in the boreal forest. As a whole, the Canadian boreal forest houses a vast variety of species, including more than 300 species of bird and species facing extinction, like the forest-resident woodland caribou (Antoniuk, Terry et al., 2012 p 23).

Worldwide, boreal forests hold 80 percent of all available fresh water on the planet, and in Canada, most of it is located in wetlands and boreal peatlands that are carbon-dense (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 27). The boreal forest also forms an enormous origin of natural resources in Canada, including mining developments, hydroelectric facilities and regular and non-regular gas and oil. It also produces nearly half of Canada's yearly timber harvest that supports almost 200 communities which rely on forestry.

Both the forest industry and conservationists dramatically appreciate the boreal forest, but their differing values resulted in decades of disputes, including massive boycotts of forest products from Canada by several environmental bodies. The public owns over 95 percent of the boreal forest, and a notable part of the Canadian boreal forest is dependent on the Aboriginal rights and Treaties (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2012 p 25). The provincial and federal states permit the forestry sector to access trees via geographically defined ownership, which are extended licenses to forestry organizations. The system of tenure was created to promote rural economic growth and, in spite attempts to control Canada boreal forest responsibly, almost half of the range of woodland caribou had disappeared due to human activities such as road-building, agriculture, and exploration that disturb or fragment their habitat. In the meantime, plans to recover the caribou are still underway, and governments have been criticized for a sluggish process. However, a body of environmental companies and forestry organizations has emerged with a creative solution to safeguard both the forest and the people who rely on the wood for employment.

How the CBFA Functions

Signed in 2010, following two years of considerable discussions, the CBFA acknowledges that while governments have the critical role of managing and preserving Canada's boreal forest, the environmentalists, and industry to have a responsibility to assist shape the future of a very significant ecosystem (Antoniuk, Terry et al., 2012 p 29). The agreement has direct application to over 73 million hectares of forests in public area. Signatories to the agreement include Kruger Forest products, the 18-FPAC member organization, and seven major environmental bodies including the Ivey Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Pew Charitable Trusts, David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Boreal Initiative, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), and Forest Ethics (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 39). A ceasefire lies at the base of the CBFA as environmental bodies have devoted to ending boycotts of forest organizations involved and, in exchange, the groups temporarily prevented logging activities on nearly 28-million hectares of the forest, which constitute almost the entire boreal habitat in their area of operation.

The agreement constitutes a new association between the earlier rivals and has generated a chance for the more compound work of establishing action plans to recover caribou. It also aims to design plans to complete a system of boreal secured spaces, create ecosystem-based management regulations that involved organizations can apply to enhance their practice in the forest, and presenting a familiar face to the world marketplace. As the CBFA shifts towards enactment, it is associating with a wide range of rights-holders and stakeholders, including affected communities, Aboriginal groups, other industry sectors, and the federal government. After negotiations, recommendations are presented to Aboriginal and provincial governments for execution (Antoniuk, Terry et al., 2012 p 43).

Collective Impact and the CBFA

The CBFA demonstrates the framework of Collective Impact regarding many aspects (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 35). As sector-level collaboration among industries, the CBFA seeks to produce win-win results for both the forest industry and environmentalists. This goal may appear contradictory in the beginning; however, one towards which genuine progress is being achieved. While defining Collective Impact, Antoniuk, Terry et al, (2015 p 23) stated that wide-ranging social change is produced by superior cross-sector coordination and not by the secluded intervention of only organizations. Observing the five positions of Collective Impact which include continuous communication, mutually reinforcing activities, shared measurement system, backbone organization and common agenda, the CBFA forms a very excellent illustration of the approach.

Common Agenda

Parties in the CBFA have the same vision for the boreal forest in Canada. All signatories wish to witness better security for critical species, making sure Canada is acknowledged as an international head in conservation and also securing a new success and a sustainable time ahead for the forest industry in Canada and the people who depend on it for the social and economic living.

The Agreement has six objectives which target to seek a balance between conservational goals and the well-being of the forest sector (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 33). These are;

• Implement the best forest management practices worldwide.

• Speed up the finalization of the boreal forest network of secures spaces.

• Accelerate plans to safeguard species at risk in the boreal forest, with attempts initially concentrated on woodland caribou.

• Act on climate change in regards to forest management.

• Enhance the success of the forest sector in Canada and people who depend on it.

• Encourage and make known the environmental accomplishment of interested organizations.

Representatives of a devoted body of the forestry industry and environmentalists joined forces with facilitators during two years of discussions to write this pioneering agreement, which set the construction another association between the parties, founded on collaborative solutions rather than compromise.

Backbone Organization

The Secretariat of the CBFA is a small body of well-respected and highly qualified professionals in the field of environment and forest management and is tasked with harmonizing the functions of the entire CBFA working groups and committees to make sure of the valid enactment of the agreement (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 45). The CBFA secretariat collaborates with the environmentalist and forestry parties, offering facilitation support, communications, coordination, logistics and program management.

The CBFA functional bodies are divided into regional and national committees, each assisted by a small team of facilitators and a Secretariat coordinator (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 47). The useful governmental bodies develop science-based advice, whereas the six regional functioning bodies use this national level advice to form recommendations to execute on the ground.

The regional's functional bodies include agents from both environmental and industry agencies. With the Secretariat's assistance, these functioning bodies work as contacts between signatories of CBFA and stakeholders, communities, Aboriginal governments and federal governments. First Nations and government agents are increasingly merged directly in the functioning bodies.

Shared Measurement Process

Measuring the results of a partnership on the CBFA scale can be difficult however the signatories of the agreement have gathered a team of the best scientists, to assist in the evaluation of the progress of CBFA, among other things. The Science Committee of CBFA offers separate, science-based advice on the execution of the CBFA through collecting and managing Independent Science Advisory Teams (ISATs) on particular topics (Lazar, 2013 October). Consequently, the Regional and National functioning bodies are advised to employ the best available details to make decisions, The role of the Committee is to offer assurance and quality control on the information used by CBFA to progress on its goals.

Knowing that signatories of CBFA have consented to use a separate committee as the determiner of what was considered the timeliest information constitutes another innovative aspect of the agreement (Lazar, 2013 October). Before the CBFA was enacted, both the industry and environmentalists regularly used science as material, whereby every interest body would select facts that matched their aim and apply them to encourage their interests.

The Science Committee of CBFA is creating methodological structures and more guidance for the objective of the agreement and is currently working to describe indicator of headway and a transparent system of measurement. There is no uniformity across the range of activities, and some signals are more explicit than others. For instance, regarding the restoration of caribou habitat, consistent with Canada's government direction, a target of 66 percent has been set of undisturbed habitat across Caribou ranges meanwhile ensuring economic and social viability (Lazar, 2013 October). Nonetheless, on the side of the economy, the agreement discusses offering verifiable satisfaction to the industry of forestry, and that it represents an area for which indicators and targets are yet to be specified.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities

While the effort of creating solutions to cover the agreement's six objectives is essential to the success of CBFA, getting stakeholders' and right-holders' contribution on and final support of the proposals that come from that exercise is equally important (Lazar, 2013 October). There is abroad variety of stakeholders and right-holders that are impacted by the work of CBFA, from the leadership and residents of small groups that depend on forestry employment, to Aboriginal leadership to sectors outside forestry, like mining which operates in the affected areas.

As such, the signatories of CBFA have become experts in shaping their outreach attempts to exploit their different capabilities, skills, networks, and interests. The CBFA is essentially a partnership between Environmental Governmental Organizations (ENGOs) and industry, however for it to prosper; there is need to accumulate support among governments including federal, provincial, municipal and Aboriginal (Strittholt & Shawn, 2012 p 29). There are varied of receptivity to conservation or industry groups among stakeholders. Working efficiently sometimes proposes unilateral participation, depending on whose relationships are the best. For instance, in Manitoba, conservation bodies and the provincial government relate closely. Hence they have sometimes taken up negotiations with the government. In other areas, like Alberta, the industry has sometimes led discussions.

Continuous Communication

It has taken a long time of sustained attempts to achieve the status in which signatories of CBBFA today find themselves, at which they have progressed beyond partnership and agreement to a candidly collaborative association. The extent of trust implicated within the outreach defined above, which is having ENGOs and industry represent the interests of each other, has occurred due to continuous interaction and concentration on interest-based discussions (Strittholt & Shawn, 2012 p 54). The CBFA Secretariat ensured that every working body had been trained in interest-based talks to form a foundation for fruitful negotiations. Institutional transformation is an enormous problem. However, there has been tremendous progress in expanding trust among all the participants. In some cases, solution-based and very productive solutions have been achieved were members of working groups are diligently looking for solutions to common problems. The outcome of this work has nothing to do with negotiation or interest-based discussions. It is the level at which consultation is abandoned, and stewardship is adopted while becoming responsible for united problem-solving. Among the issues facing the potential for wide-reaching and cross-sectoral partnership is that funders of institutions often have a meticulous, investment-like way of selecting projects (Strittholt & Shawn, 2012 p 61).

They search for current and novel approaches and attempt to choose discrete projects or organizations that guarantee short-term outcomes. One of the primary essentials of the model of Collective Impact is that funders need to think differently regarding allowing change on a more prominent magnitude by offering funding which can be utilized to motivate discussions and generate opportunities to recognize a shared agenda across sections. The funding base of CBFA is diverse because most of the funding currently is from partners themselves, boosted by funding from the government, and individual funders. The Pew Charitable Trusts and Ivey Foundation took a significant risk in funding the in-depth discussions of the CBFA between 2008 and 2010 (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 57). The financiers advanced and gave their support during the two years during which negotiations brought forth the first agreement. However, the preliminary successes and the possible prosperity of this collaborative perspective is starting to honor that risk.

CBFA Achievements and Upcoming Steps

From the viewpoint of the phases of implementation defined by the framework of Collective Impact, the CBFA is progressing from the third stage of Organizing for Impact to the fourth stage of Sustaining Impact and Action (Strittholt & Shawn, 2012 p 65). The processes and infrastructure to reinforce the agreement are underway for the significant part, and the activities are taking place at the CBFA are starting to produce concrete outcomes.

In mid-2012, the signatories reported a significant development, an agreement proposal for caribou strategy for an area of 800, 000 hectares in Ontario's boreal's forest whose size in nearly five times the amalgamated town of Toronto (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2015 p 67). The proposals will assist to preserve over a quarter of the northeastern caribou range which is 3 million hectares and also saves hundreds of employment opportunities in the forest sector. Upon implementation, these proposals would rule out more than 800,000 hectares of vital natural territory for boreal caribou from being harvested (Antoniuk, Terry et al., 2012 p 55). The rest of the portion would be left free to forestry with proper forest operations in place to protect ecosystems and wildlife.

This strategy will not only preserve areas covered in the forest that important house caribou but will also enable more harvesting in regions where caribous have been absent for a while. In fact, it will offer an average of 20 percent more supply of wood while following three decades. Following the declaration of aid for the CBFA's proposals in northeastern Ontario, working groups from the regions began making considerable advancement in Newfound, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2012 p 77).

Progress has always faced challenges as the harmony between old rivals within the industry and conservation camps can be delicate. For instance, in 2012the Canopy group and Greenpeace Canada exited the agreement, partly because they professed that the concrete objectives were progressing too slowly( Lazar, 2013 November). The other agreement signatories were also disappointed in the slow speed of the progress. However, there is a visible recognition of the challenge faced by CBFA.

Majority of signatories would agree that the partnership is the best way to solve things. As part of the underway activities of the agreement, working groups and the CBFA Secretariat are participating in the process of formal "lessons learned" which involves recoding successful and unsuccessful trials in the CBFA perspective (Antoniuk, Terry et al, 2012 p 81). This fundamental to improve the approach of the program management and the process of dispute resolution included in the first agreement, to assist in removing obstacles and to accomplish faster in specific areas. This deal is considered the most ambitious and unique agreement worldwide. If there were no challenges, there would not have been any pioneering regarding what the partnership has done so far. It would have happened miraculously if the initial phase of activities had solved all challenges in regions such as North-central Quebec, at which there has been the closure of mills for years, and caribou have been quickly disappearing( Lazar,2013 November). However, members are ready to continue working on the same, and they have put in place the necessary relationships. At this position in the agreement's development, it could be noted that the legacy of CBFA is as much concerning the event of a fruitful association between signatories as concerning the results on the ground.


The Objective of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is to create peace between environmental organizations and the forest industry in Canada. It is the most significant conservation initiative globally. This paper used the Collective Impact framework to make a retrospective reflection on the formation and growth of the CBFA. It further examined how the Collective Impact provides more understanding of how this work could continue as they change from Organizing for Impact to Sustaining Action and Impact. Signed in May 2010, this outstanding Agreement introduced a new age in resource management and conservation. In brief, CBFA attempts to set a world precedent for the preservation of boreal forest and competitiveness in the forest sector. Signatories to the agreement include Krueger Incorporation, the Forestry Products Association of Canada (FPAC),18 member companies of FPAC, and six major Canadian environmental bodies. It directly pertains over 73 million hectares of natural forests licensed to member companies of EPAC across Canada. The Agreement acknowledges that even though it is the government's responsibility to ensure conservation and future of Canada's boreal forest, both environmentalists and forestry have a role to assist in defining that future. The Agreement offers both signatories with a way to operate towards a stable, more competitive industry and a well safeguarded, more sustainably kept boreal forest. It involves a dedication by the environmental bodies to end boycotts in the forest organizations involved. In exchange, the agencies have temporarily stopped logging activities on nearly 28 million hectares of the forest, which is almost the entire boreal caribou in their working regions. The temporary hold on events in the woods provides parties a chance to combine efforts on various programs, including strategizing for the recovering caribou in certain places and creating management plans that are friendly to the ecosystem that can be utilized by organizations to enhance their forestry operations.

The practice involves many stakeholders including governments, affected communities, and Aboriginal groups. After discussions, these plans are proposed to Aboriginal and provincial governments to include in the formal management plans of the forest and the rest of planning process that is underway. The CBFA has renewed automatically until all aspects have been enacted.

Works Cited

Antoniuk, Terry et al. A Methodological Framework For Caribou Action Planning In Support Of The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (Iteration 1). Ottawa, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, 2012,.

Antoniuk, Terry et al. A Methodological Framework For Caribou Action Planning In Support Of The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (Iteration 2). Ottawa, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, 2015,.

Initiative, Canadian Boreal et al. The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. Ottawa, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, 2010,.

Strittholt, James R, and Shawn J Leroux. Methodological Framework For Protected Areas Planning In Support Of The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (Iteration 1). Ottawa, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, 2012,

Lazar, Avram. (2013, November). Speech.Presented at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON.

Lazar, Avram. (2013, October). Speech. Presented at the International Boreal Forest Research Association Conference, Edmonton, AB.

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