Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Only 8% of the Boreal Forest is legally protected

The Boreal Forest is a dark green halo circling the northern part of Earth. Beaded with clear lakes, laced with blue rivers, studded with wetlands and bogs, and home to a wild collection of charismatic creatures from bears to wolverines and moose and martens, with untold number of migratory birds nurturing young as well as hidden beings nesting in out-of-the-way places, the Boreal Forest is a rare jewel. It is primarily old-growth forest, making up 25% of the world's remaining intact forest. So, it's not a little patch, or a remnant forest like what's been left behind in Finland; 2/3rds of it is still intact, undisturbed by roads or industry.

And, it's a healer on a worldwide scale: the trees, rich peat lands, mosses, decaying organic materials, soils, and lakes store carbon, helping to ameliorate climate change. The amazing Boreal Forest lives around me, but it is first and foremost the traditional lands of Canada's First Nations, who have been the respectful stewards of this green mantle since time immemorial.

Of course, it is rich, not only in colour and beauty and healing plants and charismatic animal spirits. All sorts of resources live within it. You might not be able to see it, but inside those green trees are mountains of toilet paper and kleenex and junk mail and cataloges. 5 acres of forest are lost every minute to logging which is almost all done by clearcutting. Some clear cuts are 20,000 acres in size. Lots of bums to wipe and noses to blow.

Interestingly, the Canadian government uses the idea of the
of the Boreal Forest to market a particular image
of Canada as pristine,
and this representation has become
central to the narrative of the
Canadian nation state, yet
it is a falsely romanticized image. And when
some people
who actually live in the Boreal Forest put their bodies on

the line to protect that amazing beauty, well...

they end up in jail.

Just yesterday 6 residents of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug
shortened to KI) were sentenced to 6 months in jail for
resisting the
exploration for resource extraction by the
Platinex mining company in
the boreal forest around their
reserve. The chief and 5
councilors were all put in jail
yesterday, so now the community has its
entire leadership
incarcerated. That's one way to disempower people

already suffering incredible poverty and neglect.

The KI community doesn't want any mining exploration done in
the forest
lands around them. They have simply stood up to say,
we don't want any
explorations done in the woods around our
reserve, in our traditional
lands that we depend on for co-existence.
The supposed economic benefit
of the mine will not benefit them,
but rather will further ruin their
ways of life because of the
disruptions to the Boreal Forest and its
creature and plant
inhabitants. Unfortunately, the Ontario government

has decided that resource extraction and the corporation
is the right that the courts will
protect, and not the boreal
forest, the animals in it, or the rights of
the KI people.

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