On October 31, 2017, Environment Canada released its long-awaited report summarizing the implementation progress of federal recovery strategy for boreal caribou. In 2012, provinces and territories were given five years to develop and finalize plans to effectively protect critical caribou habitat. Not a single province met the deadline.
“Eco terrorist.” “Environmental extremist.” “Latte-sucking, SUV-driving, Toronto tree-hugger.” My colleagues and I have been called many names for advocating for the conservation of caribou. When you live in part of Ontario’s remaining logging empire, as I do, talking about protecting caribou habitat can be like kicking a hornet’s nest.
From my first day with Ontario Nature, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been a big part of my work. Though I was familiar with FSC certification, my knowledge was limited to associating the green “check tree” logo with environmentally conscious paper products. My involvement with FSC over the past year opened my eyes to what the certification represents and how important it is for the future of forests around the world.
For decades biologists have been observing declines in woodland caribou across Canada and much effort has been put into understanding caribou range retraction and population loss. As Canadians we are attracted to woodland caribou because of their beauty and elusiveness and have granted them national icon status. Their loss is our loss, which is why Canadians care about protecting woodland caribou.
Don’t look now; the Ontario government is quietly doing a hatchet job on environmental protection. Under the guise of Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) “transformation” and achieving a “balance” we are witnessing a period of rapid environmental deregulation. Speaking truth to power, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Gord Miller blasted the government today for absconding from its responsibility “to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soils in which we grow food, and the natural resources that support our communities.”