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The Ontario government should immediately halt all logging and mining in the region of old growth white and red pine at Temagami, the environmental group Greenpeace said today.

Temagami represents 1/3 of all the old growth red and white pine left in North America; less than 1 per cent of Ontario's original pine forest remains intact. The Owain Lake old growth white pine stand, where logging started this week, is the third largest remaining example in North America .

"International concern over the fate of Temagami's old growth forests is building," said Greenpeace Biodiversity Campaigner Tzeporah Berman at a press conference held today at Queen's Park. "If the Harris government wants to repeat the mistakes the Harcourt government made in Clayoquot Sound and drag Ontario's name through the mud, he's on the right track."

Statements of support for protection of Temagami were also issued at the press conference by several other leading environmental organizations as well as several prominent Canadians including lawyer Clayton Ruby, Svend Robinson, and authors June Callwood, M.T. Kelly, and Jane Urquhart.

In addition to ecological problems created by logging old growth pines, Greenpeace also expressed concern that logging will damage the area's long term economic viability. The Temagami and Latchford Economic Development Corporation compared the employment potential of logging with the potential of ecotourism and found their will be nearly 90 times more jobs created by a strong tourism industry than if the area's old growth forest was logged.

The short term economic benefits of logging the remaining old growth, especially for Temagami's immediate vicinity, will also be small. "The decision to log these old growth pines will not create new jobs for the area " said Berman. "The Harris government is suffering from economic, as well as ecological, short-sightedness."

Instead of logging old-growth forests, Greenpeace believes the Ontario government should concentrate on creating more value- added forest jobs that bring long term economic health to northern Ontario. Between 1990 and 1994, the total volume of forest harvest climbed 22 per cent while the number of people employed by the forest industry fell by 17 percent.

A recent poll sponsored by Earthroots found that 92 per cent of decided Ontarians and 85 per cent of decided Northern Ontarians want to preserve all of Temagami's old growth pine.

"From Clayoquot Sound to Temagami, Canadians understand the importance of protecting our old-growth forests," said Berman. "It's time for governments like Mike Harris' to listen, before it's too late."

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION and copies of statements of support from prominent Canadians please call:

Tzeporah Berman, Steve Shallhorn or Mary MacNutt 416-597-8408; 416-505-1792 (cell)