Climate change, deforestation, global warming. These are all hotly debated areas of sustainability that have become commonly used buzzwords in the public discourse.

However, news coverage and analysis primarily tend to focus on the technical aspects of these key issues, rather than detailing any human implications. For example, it is reported that deforestation is responsible for driving 17 percent of global carbon emissions, but what direct impact is it having on the 300 million people who call forests home?

As part of its Sustainable Forestry Principles, Domtar is committed to working closely with local indigenous communities — who make up nearly half of those 300 million residents — to ensure the forests remain for generations to come. 

The Sustainable Forestry Principles are an integral component of EarthChoice, Domtar’s broader sustainability platform which embodies the company’s commitment to full circle responsibility. These principles ultimately govern Domtar’s fiber procurement processes by requiring transparency, collaboration and accountability in all of their transactions. 

A guiding principle of the Sustainable Forestry Principles is to respect the culture and rights of indigenous people. To accomplish this, Domtar’s strategy is twofold: maintain collaborative relationships with aboriginal communities and encourage suppliers to do the same. 

Working with our neighbors

The Menominee Indian Tribe has resided in the area now known as Wisconsin for over 10,000 years, depending on the land for their survival. Domtar has roots in the community as well, operating two mill facilities in the northern part of the state that trace their histories back over a hundred years. Respecting this rich history and culture, both Domtar’s Rothschild and Nekoosa, Wisconsin, mills work hand-in-hand with Menominee Tribal Enterprises (MTE), the business arm of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, to ensure mutually beneficial operations in this shared landscape.

As a major wood supplier to Domtar, the company has worked with MTE to not only protect the forest land in the area — upon which they both depend — but also support the community through job creation. Specifically, Domtar has helped MTE achieve a certification under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) program, along with its Chain-of-Custody handling of wood products. FSC certification ensures that forests are well managed, habitats are protected and local communities’ rights are respected. This partnership is evidence of a strong two-way relationship that benefits both the local tribe and workers in Domtar’s mills. 

Beyond the bottom line, Domtar supports the local communities in areas where they share common public lands. Domtar supports local pow wows, educational outreach programs and literacy initiatives through a partnership with First Book. A further example is the work being done in Ontario by Outland Camps Inc. in partnership with Domtar and others. Outland’s regional manager, Dave Bradley, works with the program partners to increase engagement and awareness of the First Nations Natural Resources Youth Employment Program (FNNRYEP). This program is designed to provide First Nations youth an opportunity to learn hands on about the resource sector with a focus on forestry, and helps provide a pathway for their success in future education and careers. 

Since 2000, FNNRYEP has supported youth participants from 50 First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario, including those near Domtar’s Dryden, Ontario mill operations. Even more notably, with Domtar’s support for over the past 15 years, the program has graduated nearly 400 First Nations youth with more than 850 seasonal job placements, including opportunities with the Forestlands team at the Domtar Dryden Mill.  

For the good of the forest

However, Domtar’s involvement with First Nation goes well beyond the First Nations Natural Resource Youth Employment Program. Domtar strives to work with First Nation communities to build relationships that address issues and concerns. Domtar’s Forest Policy states as one of its priorities to work with aboriginals — by making it a priority to develop and maintain working relationships in forest management and wood fiber processing where we share common public lands with aboriginal communities. This leads to many mutually beneficial business arrangements and a variety of community relations activities.

Examples include First Nations businesses who work in partnership with the Domtar mill in Dryden to provide fiber to the facility and build harvest access roads. Although Domtar’s track record of these relationships and meetings is assessed as part of the requirements for independent third party forest certification, Domtar believes that ongoing work with our First Nations communities is integral as part of the ongoing day to day business of the past, the present and the future.

As the saying goes, “It takes a village,” which is why Domtar encourages its suppliers to develop and maintain working relationships with indigenous and other local communities to help ensure the benefits of their operations remain in these communities. This collaborative, integrated approach creates long-term value for not only Domtar and its partners, but for the local communities, as well, where forestry operations drive jobs and economic growth. 

To learn more about Domtar’s guiding Sustainable Forestry Principles, please