||April 2011 issue
Thank you for the
article on how the
Canadian Boreal Forest
Agreement is being implemented (“The
boreal handshake,” Jan/Feb 2011). I
cheered when I heard about it in May
2010, wondering whether words would
translate into concrete actions. Your article
has shown me that win-win scenarios
are being worked on to consider the priorities
of all parties involved. I feel happy
to live in a Canada that knows how to
negotiate fair deals that mean something.
It is unlikely this agreement will see
peace in our forests. While it may
be a temporary truce between large
corporations and urban environmental
organizations, there is no commitment
to reach out to communities to seek
their involvement and support.
The people and forests of the boreal
regions are intimately connected. Now
is the time for northern communities,
especially aboriginal ones, to assume
responsibility for the shared stewardship
of the boreal forest in light of growing
environmental, economic and social
challenges. The Northern Ontario
Community Forest Charter promotes
community-based decision-making for
the publicly owned forests of Northern
Ontario. Rights and responsibilities of
northern communities have been proposed
and might be considered by all
provinces and territories. To view this
charter, go to http://noscp.greenstone.ca/
Thunder Bay, Ont.
I appreciated learning about the Nature
Conservancy of Canada and the
work it is doing conserving beautiful
Canadian lands (“The mysterious
Darkwoods,” Jan/Feb 2011). I am
planning a trip out west this summer,
and the Darkwoods property is on my
agenda. Also, it was nice to see pictures
of Cochrane, Ont., since I live in
Moonbeam, just an hour away. I get
to enjoy the boreal forest year round.
If you please — do note my bowing
and scraping — there is no way
the German Duke Friedrich von
Württemberg would be addressed as
“His Royal Highness.” This bit of journalistic
ornamentation was no doubt
dug from internet sources that explain
the forms of address for royal families.
Germany hasn’t been a monarchy for
90 years. To me, the clearly shrewd
landowner is Friedrich Herzog von
Württemberg. I can’t wait to go to his
one-time property, mind you.
I remember realizing that I wasn’t necessarily
helping the forest by replanting
a monoculture of pine (“The Canadian
invasion,” Jan/Feb 2011). I felt quite disillusioned, having believed until then
that I was working to heal the Earth.
As far as the environment is concerned,
I learned that the best thing you can do
with a mature tree is harvest it, and then
turn as much of the fibre as possible into
someone’s home. This locks the carbon
up for the life of the home. If the tree
were to rot in the forest, most of its carbon
would be released to the atmosphere.
My congratulations to tree-planting
contractor Hugh Gilmour. Must be nice
to be the boss.
Flin Flon, Man.
Have you ever seen the tree plantations
in England? Softwoods are
planted in rows, all of the same species
and all of the same size. These plantations
are not replacements for the beautiful
oaks and other hardwoods that have
been long gone from Britain. They are
factory plantations, designed for commercial
harvesting. And, they are ugly.
Writer Allan Casey replies: I assure you I was actually
there, and you are quite right: the plantations are
ugly. The young Sitka spruce need to be sprayed regularly
with biocides to get established, and eventually
they choke out all other growth. There is little or no
wildlife to be found in these monocultures. Tree plantations
in the United Kingsom are a pale substitute
for the long-departed hardwood forests of old.
Too bad the current government in
British Columbia has cut funding
for research into forest ecology and management
so severely (“Mother knows
best,” Jan/Feb 2011). It would likely be
very difficult, if not impossible, to initiate
and complete a project like this today.
Driving the river
Great story on Alberta’s Beaverlodge
River (“Ripe for rehab,” Jan/Feb 2011), although more work needs to be
done to stop the devastation. There are still crossings that allow people to drive
vehicles, including agricultural sprayers
and oil-field tankers, through the river,
causing more damage. Local government
has kept these crossings open against the
wishes of residents.
Your “Action shots” cover (Dec 2010)
had me opening the issue even before I
reached the kitchen table. The photos and
photographer’s stories in “Unforgettable
wildlife moments” inspired me to go out
and get that new camera I’ve had my eye
on for a while. So thanks to you, and
Merry Christmas to me.
* Letters may be edited for length, accuracy and liability.