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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
Part Three: The Temagami Debate11
Part Four: The Law of the Land13
Government Legislation / Wildlands League Lawsuit15
Natural vs. Positive Law16
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
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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