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Park creation proposal creating some concerns.

Park creation proposal creating some concerns

A key element in the federal government's Green Plan could have serious, long-ranging implications for the forestry industry.

Under the $3-billion, five-year plan, the federal government will increase the current amount of land dedicated to parks by 12 per cent, create up to eight working models of sustainable development and increase efforts to develop environmentally safe methods of pest control.

An official with Environment Canada in Ottawa said the details of the different programs set down in the plan are being finalized by the respective government departments and agencies. The work is scheduled to be completed early this month.

The plan outlines the government's intent to create national seed and gene banks, to encourage the maintenance of gene stocks through the establishment of a forest ecological reserve and to increase public participation in the environmental assessment process.

It is the increase in park land which troubles some forestry officials and advocates of multiple land use.

"There is no basis for the figure (12 per cent) other than it came from a European group's formula of four per cent times three," says Judith Skidmore, executive vice-president of Northern Community Advocates for Resource Equity (Northcare). "Other than that simple formula there is no reason for it."

Skidmore notes that the proposed 12-per-cent increase would apply to the present federal park system and it excludes land in provincial park systems.

"It's just someone's philosophical idea, and there's no data or information on land capacity behind the figure," she says.

Joe Bird, president of the Ontario Forest Industries Association, also questions the validity of the 12-per-cent figure.

"It (the section regarding the establishment of parks) is pretty fuzzy," he says. "There is some concern about the land base in Ontario."

Bird says the forestry industry already has to contend with a provincial parks policy which has effectively removed a large area of land from the industry's use.

"We recognize the need to set aside land for parks and for environmental research," he says. "But to bandy about a figure like 12 per cent, which doesn't seem to be based on anything, is unrealistic."

According to the Green Plan, the federal government plans to increase the amount of federal park land to three per cent of Canada's land mass by the year 2000. In addition, the plan calls for the establishment of marine parks.

"There is no mention of the multi-use concept," argues Skidmore. "It was left out of the Green Plan. "It veers from reality."

Skidmore predicts that the call for the creation of more parks could result in future controversy.

"With that kind of a thrust, I can see a lot more Temagamis coming," she notes, making reference to the long-running battle between loggers and environmentalists over timber cutting in northeastern Ontario.

Skidmore claims that other sections of the Green Plan are also lacking support data.

"When it was first announced, the plan seemed to be an emotional reaction without a lot of scientific facts," she says. "The final document is a great improvement."

Skidmore says the sections dealing with water quality and the Great Lakes were based on facts and data.

"It was a relief to see that they got down to the nitty-gritty, and that the speculative parts, such as global warming, are left to further review," she adds.

Bird is critical of the plan because it fails to indicate whether or not the federal government will continue with its now-expired forestry agreements with the provinces.

"We don't see any evidence that the federal government is going to participate in forestry agreements. There is nowhere near the level of involvement that's needed. It's a big disappointment," he says.

"The federal government is happy to accept its tax money from the industry, but it doesn't want to give anything back."

While Bird praises the document for expressing the federal government's intent to harmonize policies with the provinces', he says it would be wasteful to establish a body similar to the provincial environment ministry.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Report on Forestry
Author:Krejlgaard, Chris
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Mar 1, 1991
Previous Article:Increasing federal involvement viewed as a supportive measure.
Next Article:Management agreements to become part of sustainable development.

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