Ontario's forests still at risk
Some of the world’s largest clearcuts still planned in the province
Toronto - Despite announcements made today, the devastation of Ontario’s forests continues largely unabated. Giant clearcuts, which level forested areas as large as pre-megacity Toronto (10,000 ha), still make up 94% of the area logged each year in Ontario. Canada’s logging industry employs only 2/3 of the workers per tree cut that Sweden employs, and Ontario has still not respected the human right of Indigenous peoples to say “no” to logging on their traditional lands.
“Ontarians should not rest easily about the health of our forests,” said David Sone of Earthroots. “Our forests are still being decimated by the same cut-and-run logging industry giants who leave a trail of laid off workers, violated Indigenous land rights, and ecologically barren clearcuts before moving on to new jurisdictions with weaker environmental and human rights standards.”
Weyerhaeuser Corporation continues to violate the rights of the Grassy Narrows First Nation by trying to force clearcut logging operations which compound the harm that residential schools and mercury poisoning have done to the community’s health, culture, and livelihood. First Nations communities across the country are demanding the right to say “no” to all activities on Indigenous territories that commodify the sacred: air, land, water, animals, plant and genetic materials, and traditional ecological knowledge.
In Temagami companies continue to log ancient red and white pine forests, an endangered, biodiverse ecosystem which remains in less that one percent of its former range.
Some of Ontario’s best remaining woodland caribou habitat continues to be clearcut by Domtar in Trout Lake Ontario and by Buchanan in the Ogoki Forest. Even FPAC member AbitibiBowater continues to clearcut critical woodland caribou habitat in the Caribou Forest Management Area. Clearcut logging has pushed woodland caribou out of approximately half their natural range in Ontario, and the iconic species is nearly extinct in areas subject to industrial logging.
“Ontario has no legal limit on the size of clearcuts which are permitted to flatten an area equivalent to 1,400 football fields each day in our province,” said Amber Ellis, Earthroots Executive Director. “Earthroots will continue to vigorously campaign to defend Ontario’s forests, and the diverse communities and wildlife species that depend on them for clean water, and clean air.”
Each year over 210,000 hectares of Ontario's public lands are permitted to be cut. After forests are clearcut it is standard practice in Ontario’s Boreal to aerially spray herbicides to kill off any vegetation beyond the monoculture tree farms that are planted to replace the biodiverse forest ecosystems.
Independent scientists have stated that we must protect at least 50% of the Boreal Forest to prevent losing biodiversity and important ecosystem functions, and yet, a mere 12% of Ontario’s working forest area is currently protected. Nationally, 90% of logging in Canada is in frontier forests which have never been logged before while only 8% of Canada’s forests are protected.
In 1991, 24 companies were responsible for processing 90% of the wood harvested in Ontario. By 2004, just eight large companies were processing 90% of our wood, many of them controlled by foreign executives and shareholders. A small eco-forestry woodlot and sawmill generates 10 times the jobs that an ultra mechanized industrial saw mill supplied through clearcutting does. Turning the same amount of wood into furniture creates 30 times as many jobs as an industrial sawmill.
“Communities, workers, biodiversity, clean air and fresh water must come before the profits of wealthy foreign shareholders”, said David Sone of Earthroots. “We must protect our future by getting off the boom and bust multinational industry roller coaster and fostering a diversified, value added Northern economy built on a foundation of respect for human rights, watersheds, and forest ecosystems.”
David Sone: 416-599-0152 x 13 / 416-556-1369