Like many others, we at NOW hear the voice of nature speaking loud and clear. As users of newsprint, that means it is time to stand up for the life of our forests. It's not a bandwagon, it's just a fact.
Only 20 per cent of the earth's forests still exist, and one-quarter of those are in Canada. How much more can the planet afford to lose?
We at NOW wanted to take a step beyond the efforts to use recycled newsprint that have been a part of our practice from the start. When the forest-crusading Markets Initiative (see page 122) asked us to become the first newspaper in Canada to formally commit to an Ancient Forest Friendly paper policy, we were beyond delighted. We got to work immediately and are proud to publicly present this policy in our 25th anniversary issue.
Down here in the southern part of our province, we can easily see how development has turned country into concrete. And, of course, we've got the pollution and smog to show for it. But on a recent trip to Ontario's far northern boreal forest, we saw for ourselves how it, too, is being invaded by the tanks and artillery of rural industrialization to its far greater detriment.
The distant voices of native elders in isolated fly-in communities and valiant but underfunded environmental NGOs are the only ones telling us about roads cut for industrial machines that munch whole landscapes and then munch some more.
It's tough to talk about the economic shifts that moving away from this approach entails.
But there is a new economy that's waiting to be created, just as NOW was waiting to be born 25 years ago.
Just as NOW's success has been built on a need that was waiting to be addressed, so will this new economy offer huge opportunities to those who sign up to serve.
Twenty-five years of growing as a writer-led independent media organization in a highly monopolized and competitive marketplace have taught us that doing the right thing can also be financially rewarding. If we are smart, we won't have to make crisis-driven choices.
Our vision of newsprint's future goes beyond recycled, which is, after all, often a forest once removed. We look forward to working toward the day when agricultural residue becomes a major source of pulp fibre, as it is in China and India.
We know it's going to take some time, but the sooner we start, the better for everyone it will be.
We're pleased to be the first publication in Canada to commit to an Ancient Forest Friendly policy, but we hope we aren't alone for long. We'll feel prouder when we stand with many others in the paper and publishing field collaborating on how to create a new, profitable and affordable, forest-free future for paper.