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.
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.
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.
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.
Our panel of two executives and one environmentalist agrees that unsound practices can be corrected by an evolving price system. After pressure from industry and business, the federal government is now conducting cross-country hearings on the environment. Financial Times staff writer Jeb Blount spoke with three Canadians concerned about the relationship between business and the environment — Adam Zimmerman, chairman and CEO of Noranda Forest Inc., Peter Allen, president and CEO of Lac Minerals Ltd., and Larry Solomon, executive director of Environment Probe, a Toronto environmental think-tank — about environmental policy in Canada.
Since the first Earth Day in 1970, there has been a lot of good news on the environment. The deserts of the Sahel may not be spreading after all. And Lake Erie is no longer dead; its waters now team with tens of millions of walleye. But the best environmental news of all is the opening of the Berlin Wall and the democratization of Latin America.
Whether you voted for or against the free trade deal, now that free trade is a reality it’s incumbent upon all of us who care about the environment to do everything we can to make the deal work for us. The next 60 months – during which our government will be back at the negotiating table to hammer out the meaning of subsidy – will be decisive in our environment’s future: These negotiations will determine whether or not our forests are spared, whether we can continue to subsidize environmentally destructive coal and nuclear plants, whether free trade means fair trade or whether it means an acceleration of the rape and pillage policies of the past.
Wherever trees grow on private land, forest owners seem to draw the ire of their governments. The government of Ontario has a problem with the way many of its small, private woodlot owners tend their forests: They won’t cut down their trees. The government’s surveys conclude that these smallholders – mostly farmers, professionals and retirees, who control more that 10 million acres of timberland – have what government experts call "a rather indifferent attitude" toward their land.
Robert Rivard of the Canadian Lumbermen’s Association would like to go back to “the old free trade deal.” He feels the previous arrangement reflected a more Canadian brand of free trade that better served his association’s members.