Natural resource ministers across Canada have agreed to challenge environmental campaigns that target the forestry industry.

Ontario’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Bill Mauro hosted Friday’s Canadian Council of Forest Ministers meeting in Thunder Bay. He said all provincial and territorial ministers were unanimous in their resolve to promote the sustainability of Canadian forestry.

Over the past decade, there has been an increase in environmental groups deploying  divestment campaigns that pressure large paper companies to change suppliers.

Those campaigns seek to change the forestry practices of Canadian companies by threatening to associate paper companies’ brand identities with images of clearcut forests, endangered species and Aboriginal rights violations.

Mauro’s ministry is now reaching out directly to those paper companies to reassure them provincial standards are sustainable. Ontario government delegations have already visited industry clients in Vancouver, Minneapolis and New York.

“We are doing outreach to speak directly to the customers who source their product from the forest industries in this particular jurisdiction,” Mauro said.

“We are going directly to them to ensure that they understand and as clearly and unequivocally as we can, state the case that here in Ontario, we are sourcing, harvesting our fibre in a very, very sustainable way.”

Federal Natural Resource Minister Greg Rickford hosted Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions in his home town of Kenora. He argued Canada’s forests provide a net benefit to the environment and vowed to fight the contrary message environmental groups are perpetrating through divestment campaigns.

He announced the ministers themselves will take the lead on getting that message out.

“What we, through the CCFM, decided to do was a more concerted and collective effort that everything down to speeches for ministers would include a stand pat paragraph or two to fight back on what we believe is unfair and is currently cutting down northern Ontario and northern Quebec communities,” Rickford said.

“And we’re not going to take it anymore.”