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After signing an agreement with the Forest Products Association of Canada to not criticize it publicly and endorse its products as green in the international market, Greenpeace is going after non-FPAC members -- in this case, EACOM on Cree land.
Great, right? It's a short-term gain for the Cree of Waswanipi, who get much-needed support for their struggle, to be sure. And it's hard to criticize any community's choice to accept support in what is effectively a struggle for survival. The same criteria do not apply to Greenpeace, an organization with over 2.8 million members and $196.6 million in revenue in 2008.
Greenpeace will not be helping out, and is contractually bound to not help out, communities like Barriere Lake (where FPAC member AbitibiBowater does its cutting) or Grassy Narrows (where the community has called for a boycott against Weyerhauser), because of its deal. These communities will have to go it alone.
Check out an old page about Grassy Narrows on the Greenpeace site: information about the community's struggle is covered over with an ad for the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement. That's part of the agreement: Greenpeace has to remove or mitigate critical materials that it has about FPAC members' boreal operations on its site.
Grassy Narrows recently issued a call to boycott FPAC member Weyerhauser. This time, they'll have to do it without Greenpeace's support. In fact, Greenpeace is contractually bound under the CBFA to defend Weyerhauser's boreal forest operations from public criticism.
The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement was negotiated without any First Nations involvement, and drew a good deal of criticism as a result. Recently, CBFA proponents have been trying to retroactively convince First Nations to endorse the CBFA, with mixed results.
Critics of the deal maintain that by negotiating a deal without First Nations input, the signatories are engaging in a de facto violation of the sovereignty of the Nations that are affected by the decision.
So, after eroding the sovereignty of communities whose forests are being cut by FPAC members, Greenpeace is papering that over with a relationship with the Cree of Waswanipi. The fact that Greenpeace is backing up a Cree community is great... if you ignore the context.
The fact is, it's doing that to cover up its CBFA hijinx and ultimately act as the enforcer for FPAC.
Since Greenpeace has signed the CBFA, the obvious reason for them to target EACOM (again, not a FPAC member) is to pressure EACOM to join FPAC, and to make life as a non-signatory to the CBFA more difficult while giving signatories a competitive advantage as "green" products.
The question is: if EACOM signs on with FPAC and the CBFA, and then maintain the same cut rate while adopting undefined ecosystem-based management practices (which is what CBFA members get out of the deal), where will that leave the Cree of Waswanipi?
They'll be back to where they started, because Greenpeace will be obliged to stop supporting them under the agreement it signed. In fact, if they don't think that cutting the same amount of trees using "better practices" is acceptable, then they'll find themselves to be the de facto enemies of Greenpeace.
The outstanding question is: why doesn't Greenpeace support indigenous sovereignty across the board, instead of doing so in a manner that is selective and divisive? Unlike the Cree of Waswanipi, it's hard to say that Greenpeace doesn't have the resources available to make this decision.
UPDATE: Greenpeace has verbally supported Grassy Narrows in asking the government to stop granting new logging concessions. The blog post is very carefully worded: there is no mention in the blog post about FPAC member and CBFA signatory Weyerhauser, the company that is behind the government's new logging permits. Under the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, Greenpeace cannot join the community's call for a boycott of Weyerhauser, limiting its support to symbolic declarations. Any kind of direct action or blockade along the lines of Waswanipi is out of the question, unless the logging company is not an FPAC member.
Appendix A: CBFA Excerpts
From page 4:
d) “Boreal Zone” is defined as the broad, circumpolar vegetation zone of high northern latitudes covered principally with forests and other wooded land consisting of cold-tolerant trees species primarily within the genera Abies, Larix, Picea, or Pinus but also Populus and Betula; the zone also includes lakes, rivers, and wetlands, and naturally treeless areas such as alpine areas on mountains, heathlands in areas influenced by oceanic climatic conditions, and some grasslands in drier areas1;
From page 33:
c) ENGO communications (e.g., websites and social media) and other marketplace work related to the boreal including different sources of supply within the boreal will, subject to Section 2, support products from the boreal operations of FPAC members (Timing: Effective immediately and ongoing thereafter);
d) The following will apply to advocacy work and other communications where ENGOs express their ongoing a preference for FSC certification or its certified products, or comment on other certification programs or products certified under other certification programs (timing: effective immediately and ongoing thereafter):
ENGOs will not, in any of their communications, cite forestry operations of FPAC Members in the boreal as negative examples of certified practices; and Where an FPAC Member demonstrates an impediment to selling forest products to a specific customer from the boreal as a result of past or current advocacy work or communications, ENGOs will communicate with that customer to confirm they are receiving all joint communications related to progress in implementing the CBFA and that this should be taken into consideration in making procurement decisions;
i) Encourage those developing procurement policies to construct their procurement policy in a manner that does not preclude forest products from the boreal operations of FPAC Members (timing: effective immediately and ongoing thereafter);