Temagami, Canada Wilderness Threatened by Logging and Mining
OVERVIEW, SOURCE & COMMENTARY by EE
I had missed the newest Taiga News on the Taiga Rescue Network's very
informative web page at http://www.sll.fi/TRN/ . Threats to temperate
and boreal forest ecosystems are every bit as pernicious and
persistent as rainforest loss. One of the most significant remnants
of the red and white pine forests which cloaked much of Eastern North
America is threatened in the Temagami wilderness of Northern Ontario,
Canada. Following is an appeal for letters from the Carleton Forestry
Working Group to save this important bioregion from further industrial
forestry induced decline. This alert goes out with an extra bit of
urgency in my heart due to this being my bioregion.
RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:
From Taiga-News 20 (March 1997)
TEMAGAMI WILDERNESS THREATENED BY LOGGING AND MINING
A couple of centuries ago, a large part of eastern North America was
covered with red and white pine forests. Many years later, there are
only a few fragments left, and now even these last remnants are
endangered by logging and mining.
One of these last wilderness areas is Temagami, in Northern Ontario.
For many visitors from all over the world, Temagami is a place to go
canoeing in the calm waters of its lakes and rivers, or hiking under
towering pine trees. Ontario's new government seems to have a
completely different perspective. It has thrown out restrictions
against development, and it has opened up the area to intensive
logging and mining.
The Temagami wilderness contains some of the last remaining old-growth
red and white pine forests in Ontario, and the world. The white pine
is Ontario's official tree, but ironically, less than 1% of the
province's original pine forests are left. These forests are the
habitat for many endangered species such as the eastern cougar, golden
eagle and aurora trout. Temagami is also the homeland of the Teme-
Augama Anishnabai and the Ma-komin-Ising Anishnabeg, who have
inhabited the area for thousands of years. They have been struggling
for over a century to regain control over their land. Successive
provincial and federal governments have chosen to ignore their rights,
giving control of the forests to logging and mining companies instead.
Logging and mining began earlier this century, and clearcutting
started in the 1960s.
In 1973 the Teme-Augama Anishnabai succeeded in slowing the
destruction, by filing a land-claim caution which prohibited mining.
Later, in 1983, local residents succeeded in persuading the provincial
government to establish Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park, which protects
part of the region. In 1988-89, with the help of concerned people from
all over Canada, they blockaded logging roads in an effort to stop
clearcutting. Over 300 people were arrested in those blockades,
including then-opposition leader Bob Rae.
Biased Planning Council
As a result of these protests, the Ontario government intervened to
slow down the logging, and in 1990, it established the Comprehensive
Planning Council (CPC) to decide Temagami's future. The CPC included
local residents representing a variety of conflicting interests. It
originally included representatives from the Teme-Augama Anishnabai,
but they left after they became dissatisfied with the process.
It is worth noting that the CPC was biased towards resource
extraction, if only because it was forbidden to consider adding any
new parks. Inherent in its flawed process was the belief that it is
possible to protect the environment, and accommodate recreation, and
industrial activities such as logging and mining.
In April 1996 the CPC finally unveiled its land-use plan, after six
years of deliberations, and uninterrupted logging. The plan calls for
78% of the region to be opened up for logging and mining. Only a few
isolated stands of old-growth are protected as "tree museums".
Ontario's Neo-Conservative Government
Since being elected in 1995, Ontario's Progressive Conservative
government has dismantled social programs and environmental
legislation. It has completely ignored public opinion. According to an
opinion poll conducted last year, 81% of Ontarians favour government
action to protect wilderness areas. This widespread concern for the
environment has been dismissed as the concerns of "a few special
interest groups". Premier Mike Harris has chosen to ignore public
opinion, declaring the Temagami wilderness "open for business".
In September 1996, Goulard Lumber started logging the Owain Lake old-
growth pine forest, the third largest stand of old-growth red and
white pine left in North America. The Harris government also threw out
the land-claim caution which protected Temagami from mining - and
Temagami was invaded by hundreds of prospectors looking for gold,
copper and other metals.
The Harris government has also continued a long tradition of Canadian
indifference towards, or outright genocide of, indigenous peoples. In
1929, the Ontario government of the day asked the Teme-Augama
Anishnabai to pay rent to stay on their land. Many years later, little
has changed. The Harris government has broken off land-claim
negotiations, and has handed over the Teme-Augama Anishnabai's land to
logging and mining companies.
Opposition from Environmental Groups
Environmental groups have responded in a number of ways. From
September to November, a Toronto-based group, Earthroots, organized
blockades of logging roads to try to stop the Owain Lake old-growth
forest from being logged. They succeeded in slowing the logging down,
and attracted some media attention.
Some groups have taken a more conservative approach. The Wildlands
League and other groups came up with an alternative development plan
for Temagami. Like the CPC plan, it allows for logging and mining, but
there are more protected areas, and control is given to local
A number of environmentalists have also joined the gold rush, staking
claims in the headwaters of rivers flowing into Lady Evelyn-
Smoothwater Provincial Park. By staking claims, they are hoping to
keep these areas away from the mining companies.
Consumer pressure needed
OPIRG-Carleton's Forestry Working Group (a student group based at
Carleton University in Ottawa) has focused on consumer pressure, and
other alternative strategies.
One of Canada's most powerful corporations is George Weston Limited, a
transnational which conducts food processing, food distribution and
resource operations. Most Canadians know about stores such as Loblaws
and Zehrs, and products such as G*R*E*E*N, President's Choice, Clover
Leaf canned tuna and salmon, and Brunswick sardines. What most people
don't know is that George Weston Limited controls a number of forest
products companies, including E.B. Eddy Forest Products Limited, Agawa
Forest Products Limited and Grant Lumber. All of these companies are
using wood from wilderness areas with old-growth forests, in Temagami,
Algoma Highlands and even Algonquin Park.
OPIRG-Carleton has been trying to raise public awareness of the
connection, by distributing pamphlets, postcards, and petitions. And
starting January 26, we have been organizing information pickets at
Loblaws stores to bring the message directly to the public.
Because a lot of Weston products are exported, international pressure
is crucial. Seafood products such as Cloverleaf canned salmon and
Brunswick sardines are available in over 30 countries around the
world. And much of E.B. Eddy's timber and paper is exported to the
United States, with a smaller fraction going to Europe. We are looking
for groups in Europe and the United States to join us, to help put
pressure on this company.
Ban Imports of Old-growth Wood Products
We are also calling on legislative bodies such as the European
Parliament to pass resolutions banning imports of wood products from
Temagami and all other old-growth forests in Canada threatened by
In October last year, the European Parliament passed a resolution
calling for the protection of the rainforests in the State of
Amazonas, Venezuela, after the Venezuelan government proposed to lift
a ban on logging and mining there. The resolution also asked the
Venezuelan government to reform its policy towards indigenous peoples,
whose health and land rights are threatened.
The situation in Temagami is quite similar. Like the rainforests of
Venezuela, the ancient forests of Temagami are now in danger because
the Ontario government has opened up the area to logging and mining.
The health and land rights of indigenous peoples are also threatened,
for similar reasons. International pressure to stop the logging and
mining in Temagami would be of great assistance, and is urgently
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. WRITE TO THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT. Ask for a halt to all logging,
mining and road construction; the preservation of all old-growth
forests; and recognition of the rights of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai.
* Chris Hodgson, Minister of Natural Resources, 99 Wellesley St W, 6th
floor, Whitney Block, Queen's Park, Toronto, ON M7A 1W3 Canada
* Premier Mike Harris, Rm 281, Legislative Bldg, Queen's Park,
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1 Canada
2. On Tuesdays, PHONE Natural Resources Minister Chris Hodgson (416)
314-2301 and Premier Mike Harris (416) 325-1941, and ask them to save
Temagami. Broke? Call collect. When asked for your name by the
automated operator, say "SAVE TEMAGAMI". They'll get the message.
3. BE A CONCERNED CONSUMER! Write to George Weston Limited, and tell
them you're concerned about logging in Temagami, the Algoma Highlands
and Algonquin Park. Let them know you prefer to do business with
companies that care about the environment.
* Richard J. Currie, President, George Weston Ltd, 22 St. Clair Ave E,
Toronto, ON M4T 2S8 Canada
4. WRITE TO MINING COMPANIES
Temagami has been invaded by multinational mining companies such as
Falconbridge and Battle Mountain Gold. Ask them to leave Temagami
* Alex Balogh, President & CEO, Falconbridge Ltd, Suite 1200, 95
Wellington St West, Toronto, ON M5J 2V4 Canada
* Karl E. Elers, Chair of the Board & CEO, Battle Mountain Gold, 42nd
floor, 333 Clay Street, Houston, Texas 77002 USA
5. HELP BAN IMPORTS OF UNSUSTAINABLE WOOD PRODUCTS
Write courteous letters to members of the European Parliament, calling
attention to logging in Temagami. Ask them to ban imports of wood
products from Temagami and all other old-growth forests in Canada
threatened by logging.
* Klaus Hansch, President, European Parliament, 97-113 rue Belliard,
B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium
* Ken Collins, Chairperson, Committee on the Environment, Public
Health & Consumer Protection, European Parliament, 97-113 rue
Belliard, B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium
* Georges Berthu, Chairperson, Delegation for Relations with Canada,
European Parliament, 97-113 rue Belliard, B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium
* Pauline Green, President, Party of European Socialists, European
Parliament, 97-113 rue Belliard, B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium
* Claudia Roth, President, Green Group in the European Parliament,
European Parliament, 97-113 rue Belliard, B-1047 Bruxelles, Belgium
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
OPIRG-Carleton Forestry Working Group, 326 Unicentre, Carleton
University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6 Canada +1
613 520-2757 (phone) +1 613 520-3989 (fax), firstname.lastname@example.org.
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