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Boreal forest pact 'too good to be true': WCWC

The recent Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, announced on May 18, has come under fire from the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, which charges that "9 times more caribou habitat is being targeted for logging than is being temporarily preserved over the next three years."

In a May 26 post on the Wilderness Committee website, Manitoba Campaign Director Eric Reder asserted that “An analysis of the announcement on forestry and caribou can come to only one conclusion: the logging companies do not plan to preserve anything near the amount of woodland caribou habitat that their recent news release appeared to promise.”

The post went to say:

Three-year protection was announced on 29 million hectares of caribou habitat, but a close examination of the forest companies' agreement reveals only one-fortieth of the forest was ever going to be logged in the next three years.

Of the areas at risk, logging is only being deferred on 72,000 hectares. Over the next three years alone, logging is going ahead on 684,000 hectares of caribou habitat.

Moreover, logging is not being deferred for caribou in any boreal forest in Ontario, and there is no voluntary logging deferral in BC, Saskatchewan, or Newfoundland-Labrador.

Reder also said:

The bulk of the 72,000 hectares of forest lands that are supposedly being deferred from logging is 40,000 hectares in Manitoba in logging corporation Tolko’s forestry lease. Doug Hunt, Tolko’s Operations Manager in Manitoba had previously told the media that the agreement would not affect Tolko’s operations.

On Friday, Mr. Hunt said the 40,000 hectares set aside are part of an agreement with the province of Manitoba that has been in the works for several years, and not a volunteer deferral related to last week’s announcement. The Manitoba Endangered Species Act and Manitoba’s Woodland Caribou Recovery Strategy require a large amount of caribou forest habitat in Manitoba to be left undisturbed.

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement has been endorsed by such organizations as the David Suzuki Foundation and ForestEthics.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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