Timber is shipshape
Tour group impressed with forests

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 25/98) - A delegation of 11 German politicians, professors, business representatives and journalists spent Thursday afternoon at the Muskeg demonstration forest, inspecting harvesting practices and the condition of the trees.

"Our forest management policies and practices have been

criticized by some environmental groups," explained Claude Leger, federal forestry relations officer for the International Forestry Partnership Program (IFPP). This criticism has had a negative impact on Canadian exports, Leger noted.

The IFPP sees delegations from key lumber and pulp and paper markets overseas, visiting Canada to take a first-hand look at the state of this nation's forests. They meet with government officials, representatives of industry, First Nations' people, non-government organizations and environmental organizations.

The program, sponsored by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministries, allows delegates to learn about the vastness, scale and diversity of Canadian forests, said Leger. Wolfgang Rumpf, vice-president of Forests in Distress, confirmed that environmental groups such as Greenpeace have been misleading European industry and government about Canadian forestry practices. Rumpf said he didn't see any evidence of that on this trip.

"I think it was rather impressive," he said of the Muskeg demonstration forest, 10 kilometres from Fort Liard.

He added that the forestry service here has been successful in imitating nature, but even more expedient in creating regeneration, which is a lengthy process in nature, he said.

"They have learned that big, clear-cutting is not the best way to restore forests," Rumpf said of Canadian foresters. He hails from a land where clear-cutting practices were abandoned 50 years ago.

The members of the German delegation are influential "decision makers" in their homeland, said Ken Caine, extension forester for Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development. The Germans were the first international group to visit the NWT, but Dutch, British and American delegations have been in other provinces.

Caine said the GNWT is currently working on its forest inventories process to determine what vegetation is found in the forests. They are trying to incorporate more traditional, cultural and spiritual knowledge in their approach to sustainable forestry, he added.

"There's more of community level, go-slow approach," he said.

By visiting the NWT, the German delegation had an opportunity to see the boreal forest. They left for Fort Providence on Friday and were to continue on to Yellowknife.

They had arrived from B.C. where they had viewed temperate rain forests and had yet to visit Quebec where they would appraise the Great Lakes forests.