Building Better Relationships Is the Key to Sustainable Forestry
Sustainability Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., Peace River Pulp Division is working to manufacture pulp in a responsible and sustainable way.
For 30 years, Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., Peace River Pulp Division (DMI PRPD) has been successfully turning softwood and hardwood fibres into some of the most sought-after pulp in the world. The company, situated 16 kilometres north of the Town of Peace River, was the first new-generation pulp mill of its kind in Alberta and is a pioneer in the production of hardwood pulp.
While the growth of a forest is a primary concern for DMI PRPD, understanding the complexities of forest management to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of one of Canada’s greatest renewable resources has been fundamental to its success in Northern Alberta.
“We stopped creating taglines and instead committed to a significant and fundamental change based on values,” says Amber Armstrong, Indigenous and Community Engagement Facilitator for DMI PRPD. “We recognize that to be truly sustainable, we need to be deeply invested in the betterment of our community relationships,” she says.
Consultation, not ‘consul-telling’
As the company approaches its 30th anniversary, it is reflecting on its valuable land-based relationships with the First Peoples.
“The recognition of rights, agreements, and the laws affecting Indigenous peoples are, collectively, only one component of respectful relationships with the communities within which we operate,” says Armstrong.
“It is critical that we listen without judgment or bias,” she continues, “and that we challenge our Western norms and embrace the historical, oral traditional knowledge of the First Peoples, and work to understand how our collective interests can be achieved through collaboration.”
Too often, consultation is viewed purely as a business requirement that needs to be checked off the list. However, when a company looks at Indigenous relationships through this lens, opportunities are almost always missed or overlooked.
“Sustainability of Canada’s land, peoples, culture, history and future can only be secure when we understand that values drive behaviour,” says Armstrong. “When we have a complicated relationship, we need to take our time, step back, and analyze the behaviours that we’re witnessing, and then work to determine the values that have been compromised. It’s good business to be good at relationships.”
Sustainable by design
For decades, the forest industry has partnered with communities, environmental organizations, Indigenous peoples, governments, and academia to create healthy forests.
Using research and science as guides, industry experts have demonstrated that healthy forest ecosystems and the responsible harvesting of a renewable resource can — and must — coexist for the benefit of Canadians.
Believing that solutions must be science-driven, DMI PRPD has been investing significant time and resources in leading and collaborating on world-class research over the last few decades. “We establish specific objectives, indicators, and targets and incorporate an evidence-based approach based on the best available science,” Armstrong says. “The planning process also requires consideration of forest values and interests identified through consultation and is done for long-term planning — more than 150 years — and extensive landscape scales, which is unique to the forest industry.”
The organization will continue their 30-year history of proactively interacting with local Indigenous and Metis communities over the course of its current forest management planning preparations. Following the spirit of Canadian sustainable forest management principles, DMI PRPD’s ability to produce high-quality, low-cost pulp in a sustainable manner requires operating with an inclusive set of values, understanding interests, and supporting community rights.
Not unlike the Seven Generation Principle that Canada’s Indigenous communities follow, DMI PRPD believes that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.
“Energy, water, trees, land — they’re all connected as natural resources,” says Armstrong. “How we manage them is the true reflection of our values.”
For more information on the Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., Peace River Pulp Division and its initiatives, visit dmi.ca.