A new study says there's enough forest in Northwestern Ontario for Resolute to share but the company says the organization that released it is misleading the public.
Wildlands League, a chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, says Resolute Forest Products is holding around two million hectares of forest in Northwestern Ontario that it doesn't need. Looking at the Caribou, English River, Black Spruce and Dog River-Matawin management units, Wildlands says that even at the company's full capacity, there would still be 1.2 million hectares that could be used for caribou habitat and opened up to smaller forestry operations.
"There doesn't necessarily need to be a conflict between conservation and the economy," forest conservation manager and study author Dave Pearce said.
"There's been a significant gap for the last six years between the amount that they've harvested and the amount they've been allowed to harvest and that gap really means, from our perspective that there should be no conflict between doing caribou conversation or other conservation measures and wood supply and the economy of Northern communities."
But Resolute spokesman Seth Kursman said Wildlands and its executive director Janet Sumner are misleading the public. The numbers used in the study are during a crippling downturn in the industry, between 2008 and 2014, and all wood is taken into account to distort the numbers from softwood, which is what the company mostly uses. It also doesn't take into account recent expansions in Thunder Bay, Ignace and Atikokan.
"Janet Sumner and her organization are either terribly misinformed or intentionally misleading," he said.
"Their document is a significant distortion of reality."
Pearce said the organization is just looking to start a conversation to find a balance between economic activity and conservation.
"If Resolute wants to have an honest conversation about what they can do for caribou then we're always open for that conversation and same with the provincial government," he said.