Canfor is an integrated producer of forest products headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. We produce solid wood from the bole of the tree, engineered wood and panels, and pulp and paper products from the residual materials. We have manufacturing facilities at sites in BC, Alberta and the north-western United States. These operations are primarily based on publicly owned forestlands in BC and Alberta where we harvest softwoods under a variety of tenure arrangements between provincial authorities and ourselves. Under these tenure arrangements we must harvest within precisely defined limits which are determined on the basis of ensuring a fully sustainable operation. We also have full responsibility for restoring every forest site harvested to a healthy free growing state. This reforestation is accomplished with native species only.
With the acquisition of Northwood Inc. in November 1999, Canfor became the largest producer of both softwood lumber and softwood pulp in Canada. The products which we produce possess unique properties which are highly valued in construction applications and by papermakers world-wide. These unique attributes arise directly from the combination of climatic conditions and species types, making forest products from BC highly prized industrial raw materials. When compared with other developed countries, commercial forestry in Canada is a relatively recent activity and, as a result, the majority of the harvest is still conducted in primary forests. This is especially so in the western part of the country where Canfor operates exclusively.
Forest products have many inherent advantages when viewed from an environmental perspective; they can be renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and carbon neutral. They have the potential to be among the few truly sustainable products, but they do also have some associated environmental burdens and we believe that it is important that these are fully understood and quantified. Many of our corporate activities are directed at understanding and mitigating these impacts and at communicating our progress in doing so.
In our mission statement, Canfor expresses a commitment to enhancing the forest resource, ensuring environmental stewardship and protecting human health and safety. We also commit to working closely with our customers. These commitments are not new; they date back to the founding of the company in 1938. This paper will deal with some of the more recent initiatives we have undertaken, but environmental initiatives are not a new "flavour of the month". For instance, in 1973 we were the first company in BC to employ a wildlife biologist in our forest operations. In 1991 we were the first company in North America to produce totally chlorine-free wood pulp (TCF). In the last decade of the nineties, we fully embraced the doctrine of Sustainable Development, and it is this topic that the balance of this paper will address.
The main centre of our forestry operations is the community of Prince George in central British Columbia. (See Figure 1 and Table 1) Situated in a central plateau between the coastal mountains and the Rockies, the area is home to slow growing forests of mostly white spruce and lodgepole pine. We have operations also on the BC coast and Vancouver Island which are situated in the coastal rainforest zone, with western red cedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir among the dominant species. All of these regions are parts of important ecosystems, and all of our forestry activities must be evaluated with consideration for the unique local nature of these ecosystems. Coastal temperate rainforests worldwide are viewed by many as an especially threatened ecosystem. As custodians of a quarter of the area remaining, British Columbians have a uniquely important conservation role to play. Canfor fully accepts this role.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?
The definition of Sustainable Development is well known  dating back to the world commission on Environment and Development in 1987:
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
While this is a simple statement, it is one with profound consequences. Upon analysis it emerges that the concept of sustainability has three distinct components, economic, social and environmental. This realisation has led many authors on the topic to use the ubiquitous Sustainable Development Venn diagram seen in Figure 2. This view of sustainable development has been likened to a three-legged stool; if any one of the legs is missing, the stool falls over. But what happens if one leg has a different length from the others? A more recent vision of Sustainable Development is an ecosystem-based one.2 This vision still has the three components, but the ecosystem is represented as all encompassing, and the other components exist within it. This is illustrated in Figure 3. In this model the ecosystem is recognised both for the services it provides (clean air, pure water, etc.) as well as for the resources it contains (timber, fish, etc.) Critical to this model is the recognition that the human economy must not on ly extract resources from the ecosystem, but it must re-invest in the ecosystem too. If it does not, then the overall system will be depleted and it will not be sustainable. An important consequence of this vision is that if the ecosystem is allowed to degrade, then both the quantity and the quality of the ecosystem and its resources will decline.
We are long past the point in time when governments, citizens and companies were concerned about what impact the economy was having on the environment. Today we are collectively concerned with what impact severe environment stresses are having on the economy. Fisheries have collapsed, climate is changing and forests in many countries have been over-exploited. The results of anthropogenic change are apparent in many areas.
Not everyone in the business world sees sustainable development as an obvious way forward however. To some, the concept is either unclear or the premise is unproven. William Ruckelshaus, former director of the US EPA and now CEO of Browning Ferris, was referring to this sceptical constituent of managers and leaders when he stated:
Sustainability is as foreign a concept to managers in capitalist societies as profits are to managers in the former Soviet Union.
This view is not found everywhere however, and the recent introduction of a "Sustainability index" as a subset of the broader Dow Jones is a clear testament to this. In recent years the business community has seen the emergence of environmentally motivated initiatives such as "Natural Step".  or management techniques such as "eco-efficiency". [4-5] The recent rapid growth in "Green" ethical funds and "Green" power is further evidence that the concept of sustainable development is gaining wide acceptance within the business community.
Companies whose entire enterprise is based on the use of a renewable natural resource, as are forestry companies, can understand and relate to a sustainable line of reasoning. It is in this context that I would like to lay out some of the activities that we have engaged in at Canfor.
What is the scope of our activities?
The activities of Canfor start in the forest. They involve the extraction of timber, the manufacture of wood, pulp and paper products, and the transportation of these materials to destinations both local and global. We extract resources from and release various materials into the biosphere, air water and soil. Customers use our products in the creation of consumables or shelter. Our customers, and theirs, want assurances that the products they buy are safe and that they carry no environmental shadow, either directly or indirectly. Our areas of concern for sustainability therefore span the entire supply chain, from forest to consumer. (Figure 4 illustrates one of these chains for paper).
Canfor has a corporate VP for Environment and Forestry, and this department is responsible for setting the corporate standards, initiating forestry certification activities, and conducting in-house auditing of the various activities. Beyond this corporate involvement, it is the responsibility of the manufacturing units themselves to comply from day to day with legislation, meet corporate policies and objectives, and meet health and safety objectives. The performance objectives of key company personnel include an environmental component based on meeting corporate objectives. Unlike many companies, we have no single person charged corporately with responsibility for "Environmental Affairs"; rather, a cross-functional group including forestry, pulp, paper, solid wood and regulatory compliance is intimately involved. So far this approach has served us very well.