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Ontario's Northern Boreal Forest: The cries of The Lorax have never been more urgent

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, is the classic children’s story about clearcutting the world’s last forests. The Peaceful Parks Coalition will be sending Premier McGunity a copy of the The Lorax reminding him that the cries of The Lorax have never been more urgent.

Please consider sending the Premier a copy too. With $20 (cost of The Lorax book), The Peaceful Parks Coalition will send a copy to the Premier on your behalf. With each copy, we will ask that the Premier’s office donate each book to a children’s library or a children's hospital ward.

The children’s book is published by Random House and printed on recycled paper.

This light-hearted action couldn’t send a stronger message to Dalton McGuinty.

Please donate $20 to Peaceful Parks Coalition for this action. Don't forget to include your contact information and we will then send a copy of the The Lorax to the Premier on your behalf.

Background
On July 14, 2008, Dalton McGunity announced his government’s intention to open Ontario’s fragile northern boreal forest to industrial development.

He presented himself as an environmental hero by promising permanent protection for 50% of the far north, while ravaging the other 50% through industrial mining and intensive clearcut logging.

With this single announcement, the Premier instantly wiped out half of Ontario's pristine wilderness, half of endangered songbird habitat, threatened woodland caribou habitat, and probably accelerated the effects of climate change in the north.

Worse yet, the McGuinty government is in a hurry to destroy the province's surviving ancient forests by fast tracking development projects.

While the Premier's announcement received praise by some, the obvious question was never asked – how can destroying 50% of pristine land – one of the largest intact boreal forest regions in the world – be good news?

Please take a close look at what the Premier is proposing, and support our campaign to halt any further clearcutting of the province's northern boreal forest.

Ontario’s boreal forest is a fragile place. Its trees are skinny and stunted. Its cold climate limits the chain of biodiversity making its links even more interdependent. Not unlike a ‘one-industry’ town depended on one employer, the boreal forest is more susceptible to collapse as each link of the chain is eroded. Some ecologists believe the northern reaches of the boreal forest will never recover from development, and sensitive wildlife specialized to the uniqueness of the boreal ecology will not survive in an industrial landscape.

Moreover, the quality of timber extracted from the northern boreal forest is not suitable for lumber; the trees will be pulped for disposable products such as toilet paper, tissue, and newsprint.

Our forestry campaign aims to encourage individuals like you to reconsider your purchasing habits of disposable paper products. The seemingly innocent act of purchasing tissue paper, toilet paper, computer paper, a magazine or newspaper is never intended to directly hurt the woodland caribou, songbirds or destroy a whole ecosystem, but unfortunately that is exactly what happens when one person multiplied by millions indiscriminately purchases disposable paper products.

How good is the Premier’s word?
July 1 Canada Day 2008, the new Species At Risk legislation came into force. Immediately Dalton McGuinty announced sweeping exemptions for industries such as hydro-electric generating stations, existing pits and quarries, and approved infrastructure and development projects. But most importantly, logging companies were, and are, exempt from the province’s Endangered Species Act.

A few months later, in November, Premier McGuinty approved the clearcutting of the Ogoki Forest along the Albany River. The size, location, and near pristine state of the one million hectare Ogoki Forest make it critical habitat for the threatened woodland caribou, while its carbon-dense trees and soils make it critical for mitigating climate change.

The importance of boreal forests
The boreal forest forms the longest natural border in the world, a coniferous belt of green, broken only by the Bering Sea and the northern Atlantic Ocean. This green halo dominates any map of the globe with the North Pole at its centre. Also referred to the "the great unknown forest," because despite its vast size and planetary importance, it remains the least researched and least understood ecosystem in the world.

As the largest type of forest in Canada, it contains the majority of all Canada's wildlife species, and regulates water systems and climate patterns on a continental level. Ontario's boreal forest region is part of this vast system and represents one of the last remaining large tracts of frontier forest in the world.

In Ontario, forestry remains the single largest man-made threat to the preservation of the boreal forest, even though other developments, such as mining, are emerging.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, only 53.3% of Canada’s primary forests remain, yet we are the world’s largest exporter of forest products, and producer of newsprint. Within Canada, Ontario has the largest number of both wood and paper products manufacturing establishments, the majority being supplied by Ontario’s ancient boreal forest.

With so little of the world’s primary forests remaining, we must alleviate the pressures of commercial logging by reducing the demand for forest products altogether. This is the ONLY way to protect these forests because as supplies of natural fibre begin to dwindle, no forest region, protected or not, will be spared from consumer demand.

What you can do to save them
Pulp and paper production consumes vast areas of the boreal forest, but we can take immediate action to reduce our use of it, and switch to paper made from 100% post consumer waste. This consists of recovered paper material, such as old newspapers, and magazines. It provides the best choice for forest conservation, and is readily available in many office supply stores and print shops. Staples Office Supply, for example, has its own brand name of 100% post consumer computer paper at a competitive cost and equal quality as other papers.

Toilet paper, essential to our daily well being, is also produced by an assortment of companies using 100% post consumer waste paper. So it is becoming ever easier to do the right thing for our forests.

Many common household paper products are responsible for the felling of ancient trees, including newspapers. Newspapers are one of the greatest consumers of paper, and contributors to municipal waste streams. Hundreds of thousands of newspapers are sold and discarded every single day, and with them the very trees critical to maintaining biological diversity and wilderness values

Newspaper companies across North America report serious declines in circulation numbers as online readership has skyrocketed. Accepting this inevitable trend, they have begun aggressively marketing their websites to would-be online advertisers. The greater the online traffic, the better they can attract online advertisers, and shift the loss of circulation revenue to online revenue. Unfortunately, this trend, though growing rapidly, is not moving fast enough to halt the deforestation of Ontario’s boreal forest. Circulation of hardcopy newspapers still trump online readership, and Ontario newspapers have told Peaceful Parks that it will take another ten years to tip the balance towards online readership.

In the meantime, the world's largest suppliers of newsprint; companies such as AbitibiBowater, Weyerhaeuser and Tembec, giants in the newsprint and paper industry, are all clearcutting their timberlands in northern Ontario's ancient boreal forest.

Creating paper products from waste material can only be a positive development. Not only does it release pressure from remaining timberlands, it reduces the volume of waste from municipal landfills. The larger the demand for 100% post consumer waste paper, the more viable the industry.

Silently you can make a difference by shifting your purchasing habits, and have a political voice by supporting our campaign. The Peaceful Parks Coalition is dedicated to preserving the ecological integrity of Ontario wild spaces. Together, we will champion the issues that are important to us all.

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