Haliburton Forest brings leadership award home
By Sue Tiffin
Two decades after becoming the first company in Canada to be certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council, Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve is still celebrating annual sustainability certification and now also a leadership award in recognition of their work.
Sixteen individuals and organizations were honoured by the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent nonprofit organization, at a ceremony in Chicago last week. The FSC made particular note of Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve for what SCS Global Services auditing company lauded as “earning the first FSC Forest Management certification in Canada and maintaining it for 20 years, not only for supplying forest products but also to sustain the land for nature lovers.”
Malcolm Cockwell, Haliburton Forest managing director, accepted the award with Tegan Legge, the Forest’s general manager, tourism and recreation, his brother Gareth Cockwell and his partner Mike Churchman from Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve and Timmins Forest and Wildlife Reserve at an award ceremony held Nov. 14.
The award ceremony annually recognizes “individuals and entities that have had an enduring influence in forest conservation and the production of wood and paper products derived from responsibly managed forests,” according to a press release from SCS Global Services.
Cockwell said it was really special to be in the same room with some of the other organizations being honoured at the event, including World Wildlife Fund, Burton Snowboards, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Forestry, which has achieved FSC certification for more than 20 years on 2.2 million acres of forestland, representing one of the largest expanses of wildland in the eastern United States.
“It was really nice to be alongside them because those folks are doing some pretty great work too,” said Cockwell.
To his knowledge, Haliburton Forest was the only private land company recognized, and the only company from Ontario. Haliburton Forest has been certified longer and more consistently than any other company in Canada, according to Cockwell.
“That in part was the motivation for the award,” said Cockwell. “... It was basically in recognition of the fact that we were the first to be certified, the fact that we remain certified and therefore committed to uphold the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, so then also in addition to that our efforts to go above and beyond in terms of generating ecological benefits but also making efforts to share the land with other people, recreational users of the property.”
Cockwell acknowledged the longtime work of people at the Forest like Peter Schleifenbaum and Peter McElwain.
“It’s a recognition of a lot of good work that’s been done,” said Cockwell. “Half of the recognition here is the fact that we’ve been certified for 25 years. That means a lot because the management team that’s in place at Haliburton Forest, we’re very, very fortunate to have what we have. We’ve inherited incredible property, so to speak, from incredible people who put their lives into making it what it is. It’s very special to us to know that, this isn’t an award saying, hey, you guys have done a great job for the past two years, congratulations. It’s saying, you’ve done a great job for 25 years ... I think the most important thing, it’s an indication for us to continue trying to set setting a high standard and trying to be among the best alongside some of those other amazing companies that were recognized.”
Haliburton Forest, Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve near Huntsville and Timmins Forest and Wildlife Reserve near Timmins are certified together under the same certificate with the Forest Stewardship Council, according to Cockwell, and accepted the award together.
“Haliburton Forest is finding it’s pathway to sustained success, but we have a lot of capacity and we are seizing the opportunity to deploy that capacity on other properties by working in partnership with the folks managing those properties,” he told the Echo. “Working together will provide development opportunities for some of our staff and also allow us to grow a bit beyond Haliburton County in a very positive way ... By working together, that means that we are now managing a total of 250,000 acres in Ontario, all of which is certified as sustainable by FSC – but the lead property with respect to forest stewardship and related operations is definitely Haliburton Forest itself.”
Cockwell said the annual audit done by SCS Global Services is comprehensive.
“This isn’t an award that’s recognizing strictly the work of the chief forester at Haliburton Forest or the sawmill manager. It’s recognizing the work that everybody has done along the way. Every one of the logging contractors that works at Haliburton Forest deserves this award. Every guy working at the sawmill deserves this award. The forestry crew deserves this award. But also the people working at the tourism organization.”
When SCS Global Services comes to audit the company, Cockwell said they “go right into the bush,” interviewing loggers one-on-one, as well as tourism staff and clients.
“They’re making sure we’re achieving our objectives with respect to social sustainability, ecological sustainability and economic sustainability,” he said. “This award doesn’t just get handed to one person, saying good job, keep doing it. This one really goes right through the company every part of the operation.”
Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve received a Sustainable Tourism Award at the Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala in Windsor last month.