Environment Probe Turns 20

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Environment Probe turned 20 this year. To our surprise and delight, we also learned this year that our foundation maintains Canada’s most popular environmental web site. The reason, we suspect, is that the public doesn’t like top-down environmentalism, and we have the field of community-based, market-oriented environmentalism pretty well to ourselves.

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Stopping subsidized lumber exports

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Our governments are paying forestry companies to tear down our Crown-owned forests and ship them to the U.S. and Asia. Here’s how our "forest management system" works, taking British Columbia’s rainforests as an example.

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Logging for a loss

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Logging a majestic stand of hemlock and balsam in British Columbia’s coastal rainforest costs logging companies $100 a cubic metre. Selling the hemlock gets them an average of $60 a cubic metre, the balsam gets them less. "We lose $40 on every cubic metre of hemlock that we bring to the sawmill," explains Steve Crombie of Interfor, one of B.C.’s large product exporters.

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Free trade for dummies

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How dumb does Prime Minister Jean Chrétien think President George W. Bush can be? Very, very dumb, judging by the arguments over softwood lumber that our Cabinet ministers and trade officials had been floating prior to Mr. Chrétien’s meeting with Mr. Bush yesterday. Only someone as thick as a plank could buy the lulus put out by our government leaders in what — at over $10-billion per year — is by far the most important trade dispute between the two countries.

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Protecting our wilderness

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This is an unusual appeal. I am writing to ask you to help environmental groups in your area rethink their approach to wilderness protection.

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Eco-extremists aren’t extremist enough

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The eco-extremists are poised to win their biggest battle yet over British Columbia’s vast forest lands. But the eco-extremists aren’t environmental groups. The extremists are the B.C. government and major forestry companies who are hell-bent on destroying the splendour of the province’s landscape, even if they must do so at a loss.

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Preserving Canada’s forests

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These are bad times for Canada’s forests. We are slowly losing our forested areas across the country, as new growth fails to keep up with increased harvests. And we are plagued by bitter conflicts over how forests should be managed. In Northeastern Ontario’s Temagami region, disputes over logging have resulted in demonstrations, blockades, arrests, court challenges, and even an explosion. The Ontario government has opened up vast areas in the region to logging and mining. But native people claim the area’s lands as their own and demand the right to manage them. Meanwhile, environmentalists insist that the provincial government close access roads and set up a wildland reserve to preserve some of our last remaining old-growth white pines.

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Capitalizing on free trade

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Back in 1989, Environment Probe campaigned to turn free trade to the environment’s advantage. Since then, the environmental impacts of free trade have been hotly debated. Critics have rightly pointed out that, in theory, governments may be hamstrung in imposing certain environmental standards. But other enterprising environmentalists have capitalized on free trade to reduce subsidies to—and raise standards in—our environmentally destructive resource sectors.

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Privatizing natural resources

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Can you imagine a greater example of incompetence than the federal government’s stewardship of the east coast fishery, where the cod stocks have been recklessly depleted and entire communities are now on welfare, losing both their economic independence and their dignity? When the welfare runs out in several years, many of the communities will become ghost towns, emptied like the fisheries nearby.

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Markets and the Environment

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An interview, for CBC Radio’s Ideas program, with Lawrence Solomon about the ways in which competition, privatization, property rights, and other market mechanisms can work to preserve the environment.

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Resource Use in Canada’s Provincial and National Parks

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Between 0.6% and 9.3% of provincial lands exist as more protected wilderness areas, wilderness zones or protected national parks. These protected areas comprise between 48% and 95% of total park lands in the provinces. Commercial timber harvesting occurs in Manitoba’s provincial parks, two Ontario provincial parks, and one national park (Wood Buffalo National Park). Mineral extraction occurs in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia parks. Oil and natural gas wells are found in four Alberta parks, in two Saskatchewan parks and in one Manitoba park.

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Clearcut Policy and Utilization Standards in British Colombia

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Over the years, British Columbia’s public forest managers have promoted increasing timber yields from public forests in the belief that more timber volume means more processing, more jobs and therefore greater benefit to society. Timber yields have increased manifold over the years, as new techniques and economies have opened up virtually all of British Columbia’s crown forests to industrial forest management. But a large proportion of the present allowable annual cut (AAC) makes no economic or technical sense. As much as one-fifth of BC’s AAC occurs by government fiat. A central tenet of this policy is utilization standards.

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Profit in parks, not lumber

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RECREATIONAL use of Ontario’s forests has the potential to bring far greater riches to the provincial econ­omy than logging, a new study com­missioned by the province suggests.

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The Unrecognized Recreation Value of Wilderness: Defining the Future Recreation Needs of Ontarians

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Defining the future demand for wilderness recreation means defining demand – identifying the Ontarians that value Ontario’s wilderness, and the value they place on it – and defining supply – identifying the amount of wilderness available, its accessibility and its value for recreation.

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Preserving the Carmanah Valley

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Canada is blessed with one of the natural wonders of the world, the magnificent Carmanah Valley in British Columbia. Home to 30-story-high Sitka Spruce, the tallest in the world; to Red Cedars that are 1,000 years old; to Western Hemlock that are among the largest in the world; and to majestic Cypress that were alive when Christopher Columbus discovered North America, this virtually untouched valley is one of the world’s last remaining temperate rainforests.

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Carmanah no winner for MB?

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A Toronto-based environmental group, arguing that there’s no longer any economic benefit to logging in Vancou­ver island’s Carmanah Valley, is asking the British Columbia government to preserve the entire valley.

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Carmanah logging called poor investment

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Shareholders in the forestry giant MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. would make more money by investing in Canada Savings Bonds than they will by logging British Columbia’s disputed Carmanah Valley, a study says.  B.C. taxpayers will also make less money from the timber harvest than politicians are leading people to be­lieve, according to the study, to be released today by Environment Probe in Toronto.

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The Price of Preservation: An analysis of timber values in the Carmanah Creek Watershed

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The objective of this study is to determine the cost to society of preserving the Carmanah Creek watershed in its natural state. The cost of preserving the valley is viewed as the cost of forgoing the opportunity to harvest the timber. A complete cost-benefit analysis would compare the economic benefit of logging with the benefit from preserving the timber. Only if the benefits from logging exceed those from preserving should the timber be harvested. But due to the difficulty of measuring intangible non-timber benefits, the cost of the forgone opportunity to harvest the timber is the best measure of the cost of preservation. If the cost of preservation (the benefit of harvesting) is relatively low, then intangible non-timber value are more likely to exceed timber values—the prudent decision would obviously be not to harvest.

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