Sustainable Forest Cooperatives
The cooperative movement in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals was the theme of the 3rd International Summit of Cooperatives.
Lennart Ackzell, IFFA, presented the relations between forest cooperatives and the State
The 3rd International Summit of Cooperatives was organised in Quebec City, Canada, 11-13 October 2016, and gathered 2.900 participants. IFFA was represented by Peter deMarsh and Lennart Ackzell.
IFFA was invited to present at a forestry sector panel the relation between Cooperatives and State. Other participants in that panel were among others Ministers from Guatemala and Quebec province.
Jean-Pierre Dansereau (left), Directeur général, Syndicat des propriétaires forestiers de la région de Québec, and Lennart Ackzell, IFFA
IFFA stressed the need for a supportive State (government, state administration, authorities), especially when building up the Cooperative movements for an enabling environment for the cooperatives. Experiences was shared about land tenure reforms, establishment of a forest service to provide advice and guidance to the young forest cooperatives and its members, legal protection from and purchase from big forest companies. This was based on a win-win attitude between State and Cooperatives.
Role of the state
It was noted that the State role has shifted and that urbanization have changed focus from small holder perspective on better livelihood to the urban populations expectations on recreation and other environmental concerns, also on the family forest land.
Overall at the Summit the Cooperative model was highlighted as an alternative to the present stagnating commercial system. The most prominent speaker on this was the Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Stiglitz.
The 3rd International Summit of Cooperatives wat the third summit in Quebec City. The first was in 2012, the United Nations Year of Cooperatives and the 2nd was in 2014.
Forest cooperative excursion
IFFA chair Peter deMarsh (left) and Marc-André Côté, Directeur général at Fédération des producteurs forestiers du Québec
After the Summit a forest cooperative excursion was arranged by Marc-André Côté, General Director at the Quebec Provincial Federation of Forest owner cooperatives. Peter deMarsh and Lennart Ackzell visited three Forest cooperatives in Quebec Province Syndicat des Producteurs de Bois du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Syndicat des producteurs de bois de la Mauricie, Syndicat des propriétaires forestiers de la région de Québec.
The open exchange on the political environment we are struggling with was enriching and encouraging. From a European perspective, the situation for the forest cooperatives are quite different due to a very large portion of public forests. This makes the market situation special with such a dominant public actor.
Pressure for low cost
Another remark is that the pressure in politics for low cost wood for the industry has hampered rationalization of the industry and the number of small and medium sized enterprises in the industry was surprising. Now they struggle heavily to regain competitiveness. Also, dependency of one market, the USA, (at least for Eastern Canada) is of course a great risk.
Finally, it was highlighted that the tax systems are very important for the Family forestry and its cooperatives. Exchanges of views on this were very appreciated. The Quebecers were particularly interested in the Swedish tax shelter for revenue from harvests.
IFFA and three-generation Family Forestry: From left Peter deMarsh and Lennart Ackzell, IFFA, Magella Lavoie the grandfather, Jacques Lavoie the father and Martin Lavoie the son at Syndicat des Producteurs de Bois du Saguenay-Lac-Saint.-Jean