Preserving the Integrity of Ontario's Protected Areas
The Ontario government's Lands for Life planning process was initiated in 1997 to determine the fate of 40 million hectares of public land. In response, Earthroots launched an aggressive public awareness and mobilization campaign to ensure there was a strong voice for wilderness protection throughout the process. In March of 1999, the Ontario government announced a plan to increase the amount of protected land and to establish a process to negotiate further increases in the future. The plan was called Ontario's Living Legacy.
Since this major development, Earthroots has been engaged in a campaign to maintain the ecological integrity of these parks and protected areas. Over 75% of Ontarians are opposed to consumptive activities such as sport hunting, mining and associated road expansion in our protected areas, yet this is exactly what the provincial government is continuing to allow. This clearly subverts the true definition of a "protected area"?
- Sport hunting is permitted in most of Ontario's protected areas. A prime objective of Ontario's Living Legacy was to increase the amount of angling and hunting in protected areas.
- The vast majority of new protected areas were designated as Conservation Reserves, which are managed with fewer restrictions than provincial parks.
- Only 13 Nature Reserves were created and no new wilderness class parks were created. Both are park classes with the highest level of protection.
- Snowmobile and All-Terrain Vehicle trails are being expanded in protected areas. There are more than 50,000 km of snowmobile trails in Ontario - more than it would take to circle the Earth! Snowmobile and ATV use lead to increased noise and air pollution, disruption of wildlife migration patterns and nesting sites, and compaction of sensitive soils.
Ontario's parks should be places where both the landscape and wildlife are protected. Help us ensure that our protected areas are truly protected now and in the future!