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Temagami Essay, Research Paper


Table of Contents


The History of the Forest2

The Forests of Canada3

Part One: The History of the Logger5

The Canadian Forestry Industry5

The Ontario Forestry Industry7

Part Two: Forest Conservation in Ontario8

Political Activity8


Part Three: The Temagami Debate11

The Forester11

The Environmentalist12

Part Four: The Law of the Land13

Civil Disobedience13

Government Legislation / Wildlands League Lawsuit15

Natural vs. Positive Law16



Future Outlook18

Bibliography and Suggested Reading21

Appendix.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22


“Our understanding of the way the natural world works – and how our actions

affect it – is often incomplete. This means that we [must] exercise caution,

and special concern for natural values in the face of such uncertainty and

respect the ‘precautionary principal’.” – Ontario Minister of Natural Resources,


The History of the Forest

Forests have long been recognized as having vast power, both through their

potential and how it has been viewed by humans, as well as through their effect

on humans in sometimes subtle ways. The inherent properties of wood have always

made it attractive as a versatile resource but there are other, more subtle ways

in which it affects people. The tropical rainforests, responsible for producing

most of the earth’s breathable air, have been given the lofty title of “lungs of

the Earth,” and as stated by the Canadian Encyclopedia Plus ‘93, “forests

provide an additional, although intangible, benefit: the opportunity for renewal

of the human spirit” (CAN ENCYC). Once humanity accepts these facts, we open

ourselves up to profound responsibilities regarding their protection.

Unfortunately for both ourselves and our environment, we have long deigned to

shoulder these responsibilities, seeing only the obvious potential of the end

product of wood; overall, humanity has always managed the forests very poorly,

even before forest management became an issue.

Since earliest civilized times, wood has been coveted as a resource for

its ability to burn, as well as its pliable nature. With the discovery of fire,

came hand in hand the need for fuel. Fortunately, trees have always been

abundant in all reaches of the earth, which has made living in harsh climates

easier, greatly increasing our already rapid rate of expansion. Eventually

electricity replaced wood as a source of energy, but the uses for wood have

expanded over time to include building material and paper, and to the present

day trees remain important to industry on a global scale. Unfortunately, humans

have always had a poor reputation in regards to their environment, the forests

being no exceptions. We have always looked upon resources as something to be

exploited – used to the fullest, then forgotten. Therefore it should come as no

surprise to learn how clear-cutting of forests has become the norm, even knowing

that the forest will likely not recover fully for generations after clear

cutting and countless animals will die in the process. It should come as no

surprise to learn of the appallingly large quantities of tropical rainforests

destroyed each day merely to make room for resorts or temporary farmland that

will eventually become desert land. It is not highly surprising to learn of

these and other such facts, yet they are still terrible to behold, especially

knowing that they continue to be true today and will most likely continue to be

true in the future.

The Forests of Canada

The forestry industry has always adopted a “cut and get out” philosophy,

which has been accepted and most often encouraged by land-hungry industrialized

populations who view trees as little more than an obstruction to growth.

(ENCARTA) Such philosophies mean in simple terms clear-cutting large tracts of

land and running as quickly as possible, leaving behind nothing but slash, a

slowly eroding landscape and animals searching for lost habitat. For a long

time forestry was no more than trying to reap maximum profits, clear maximum

land in minimum time and get out quickly. We have indeed come far since those

times. Clear-cutting is now a thing of the past and strict measures are in

place to ensure that logging is done in a sustainable manner. That can be

assured . . . can’t it? No, not so readily as it may seem; that we have come a

far way already is evident but in which direction? Clear cutting, as will be

shown, is not a thing of the past and as to the regulations in place… we shall

see. These question, and many others besides, can be answered by looking at the

case study of Temagami.

The word Temagami has become inextricably associated with terms like

“old-growth”, “protest”, “forestry”, “environment” and many more. However the

actual Temagami issue has always been shrouded in an impenetrable fog which has

only lifted at two times in its history as a potential logging and mining site.

Behind the fog, a great many things were going on but the focus on Temagami

herein will be the two times it surfaced as a genuine concern. “Red Squirrel

Road” and “Owain Lake” have become commonly heard phrases but the questions,

those which will be examined herein, are more apparant; what do these key

phrases mean? And more importantly, what have they to do with the law?

Temagami is a prime example in determining the relationship between the

environment and the law – both natural and positive.

Forestry is a major issue in Canadain society. There are many

fundemental problems with the industry and accociated attitudes as stands today

but how can the situation be changed for the good of all concerned? This

difficult question will be answered herein to a great extent and perhaps some

light will be shed on a murky but important issue. Although not all aspects of

the issue can be covered, this essay will, through the case study of Temagami,

focus on the legal perspective of forestry – the laws which are in place, those

which have been changed or should be changed, as well as those laws which are

being broken by either side of the controversy – and outline some methods by

which conservation can be acheived through our legal system.

Part One: The History of the Logger

“What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow out of this stony rubbish?

Son of man you cannot say, or guess, for you know only a heap of broken images,

where the sun beats, and the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

and the dry stone no sound of water.”–T.S. Eliot

The Canadian Forestry Industry

Forestry has been longstanding as an industry in Canada; in some ways it

was the first real industry – as European settlers found a land of endless

forest, they realized that lumber would be the prime resource. Today,

approximately 300 000 Canadians are directly employed in the forestry industry -

almost 15 percent.(Can Encyc. “Forestry”) In practice, forestry means much

more than merely cutting trees. Forestry is defined by Encarta ‘95 as “the

management of forestlands for maximum sustained yield of forest resources and

benefits.” This may seem a simple definition, however the wording of it

deserves further attention. First, forestry means management; management means

looking after the forests rather than adopting a ’slash and burn’ attitude.

Second, forestry attempts to attain maximum yields; this appears to support the

’slash and burn’ attitude, rather than a conservationist approach. However, the

word ’sustained’ is the catch; when added it means that this maximum yiled must

be available year after year. Therefore, in theory, forestry is sustainable

management, as the definition states.

Past practices have strayed greatly from this definition. In North

America, the first foresters were interested in only exploiting forests,

worrying little about management and even less about sustainability. This view,

which has persisted well into the 20th century, has always been supported by

settlers who have viewed the immeasureable number of trees as an inconvenience

which had to be removed before farms, houses, towns and roads could be built.

(ENCARTA) As more and more settlers came to North America, agriculture began to

expand, roads were built, and trees were cut and burnt more for room than for

use as a resource.

Such activity became common throughout the United States, as well as the

lowlands of Canada where early settlers found the best soil for farmland.

Unfortunately, once the majority of trees had been cut down, previously lush

soil would begin to erode as rain and wind pounded on the unprotected earth.

Under reasonable, small scale farming, such would be of little consequence,

however when huge tracts of forest are removed at once, it becomes almost

impossible to keep the farmland from turning to wasteland – one has only to look

at ancient nations such as Mesopotamia, once a heavy agricultural area and now a

vast desert, or the ever expanding Sahara desert to see the devestating effect

of soil erosion. (CAN ENCYC) After a time, people began to understand this, at

least in a crude sense. Forestry, it seemed, must be more than simply cutting

down trees. The forests must also be managed to ensure more cutting in the


It was not until the end of the nineteenth century, with the signing of the

British North America Act in 1867, that forestry was considered important under

Canadian law. It was written into the act that “The Management and Sale of the

Public Lands belonging to the Province and of the Timber and Wood thereon” would

be assigned to the jurisdiction of the individual provinces. (CAN ENCYC)

Although this gave the forests some protection under the law in regards to

supposed ’sustainability’, there remained – as there still remains to an extent

to this day, a greed which, for the most part, overpowered any thoughts of

conserving for the future.

The Ontario Forestry Industry

The year 1893 marked the beginning of a somewhat dubious ecological

protection program in Ontario with the establishing of the Algonquin National

Park as a “public park and forest reservation, fish and game preserve, health

resort and pleasure ground for the benefit, advantage and enjoyment of the

people of the Province.” (GRAY 92) The purpose of the park was the logging of

the tall pines, rather than for any conservationist motive. Scattered parks

were established on a purely ad hoc basis throughout Ontario for almost eighty

years, during which exploitative logging grew and forests were destroyed.

Eventually, starting in the 1960s and spreading in the 70s, people began

to notice the forests dissapearing, began to see parks as more than merely

recreational; more and more concerns were being voiced regarding “uncontrolled

development, uncoordinated land-use planning, and the corresponding loss of

wilderness.” (GRAY 91) One of the outcomes of these protests was that the

Ministry of Natural Resources developed the Ontario Provincial Park Planning and

Management Policies – titled “The Blue Book”. (GRAY) The blue book, which is

still in use today, is perhaps the closest thing to forest protection in Ontario.

It allowed a comprehensive park system to be created with six classes of park

which could ensure some measure of protection to these areas. More parks were

created but it was becoming apparant that these parks were doing little to stop

the great change being forced on the landscape of Ontario. Writers from the

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) state that “over the past 200 years Ontario’s natural

landscape has been changed on a scale greater than any other since glaciation.”

(GRAY 92) Most old growth (120+ yrs) pine forests have been cut and replaced

with alien monocultural trees – to make future harvesting easier; the land of

the Teme-Augama would come under dispute due to fear of such. Part Two: Forest

Conservation In Ontario

Political Activity

In 1990, the election of the provincial NDP under Bob Rae appeared to

herrald a new beginning for forestry conservation. Rae had been arrested a year

previous in the protest over the Temagami Red Squirrel Road extension – which

will be discussed further in part two – and appeared to place the environment

high on his agenda. Promises were made to protect five previously unrepresented

natural regions by 1994, to be added to the thirty-two already protected out of

sixty-five [see appendix, map 2]. (GRAY 95) However little ever came of the

promises; by the end of 1993 only one old growth area, inside Algonquin Park

itself, was to be protected from logging and road building. Meanwhile, Howard

Hampton, the new minister of natural resources, declared that forest harvest

across the province was to be increased by up to 50 per cent as a result

recommendations by a committee made up entirely of foresters, labour, and the

government. (GRAY 94) Public interest groups were outraged; as a means of

appeasing them, the government announced a “Keep it Wild” program. The program

was said to be a means of protecting the old growth forests in a meaningful way

but in the end it became more about public relations than anything. Bits and

pieces of forest throughout the province were protected but the outcome was by

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