This land is your land
Re: Lands for life controversy
To the Editor:
There are three sectors of province falling under 'Lands for Life.' They are Boreal West, Boreal East and Great Lakes-St.Lawrence. This is about the same area as the Yukon. Within this area there are many wildlife populations, old growth forests as well as wetlands.
The provincial government, however, is leaning towards only protecting 5.9 per cent of this area from logging, mining and other depleting industries. These industries will be entitled to the land through long-term agreements. Once these industries are given the land it will be almost impossible to prevent it from being degraded. This is partly due to the fact that recently 45 per cent of the enforcement officers, as well as other staff from the provincial Ministry of the Environment, have been laid off. Thus, industries will mainly be regulating themselves, which is very bad.
The provincial government hoped that 'Lands for Life' would go through prior to public awareness of the process. This would only give people the opportunity to react to something that has already been implemented. Thanks to government leaks, however, some grass roots environmental groups learned about the plans and have been trying to raise public awareness. They are suggesting that at least 15-20 per cent of our public land be preserved.
At a meeting in downtown Toronto on March 11, Tim Grey of the Wildlands League, Robert Hunter of City TV, Elizabeth May, an author, as well as Lea Ann Mallett of Earthroots, an environmental organization, drew a crowd of over 200 people to the Coffler Centre. Tim Grey made a very solid point by asking how we can tell them to stop cutting and burning the Amazon Rain forest if Canadians, who live in the most prosperous country in the world, are willing to exploit our land.
The general view put forward by all of these environmental experts is that people have to let the government know they are aware of the 'Lands for Life' process and they feel strongly about environmental preservation. It is clear Ontarians care about the forests since a recent poll by a Sudbury firm called Oracle shows that 82 per cent of Ontario residents would support protecting Ontario's remaining wilderness areas.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has come up with a very complex document that describes four optional scenarios all made to look quite reasonable. However, the amount of land available for resource extraction predominates in all four scenarios. This makes it quite unclear why this process is called 'Lands for Life'. Scenario one offers the least amount of land preservation while Scenario four offers the most. Even in Scenario four only 19 per cent of the land are would be protected. There have been "Round Tables" appointed by the government to weigh the options and make suggestions to the Minister of the Environment.
Since there is a provincial election on the horizon, the government wants to make decisions that the public will support. If you feel strongly about environmental preservation for future generations now is the crucial time to communicate with government.
The official open house to solicit public opinion will be held in London on March 30, 2-9 p.m. at the London Convention Centre 300 York Street. Concerned persons should express their opinions there.
During the open house there will be a rally held outside of the convention centre helping inform the public about the implications of this long-term plan. You should also write to your local M.P.P. explaining your concerns. For more information please contact 1-888-371-Land (toll-free) or www.web.net/wild to find out more about the best way to use your ever important voice.
Prof. Dianne Fahselt