It gets harder every day to figure out who to vote for in Ontario if you are a TreeHugger type. It used to be New Democratic Party turf; then the Green Party came along, but one can't overlook the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty, which has pushed every TreeHugger button including:
Health: Banned trans fats in schools, smoking in cars with children, lawn pesticides and pit bulls. Planning: Cleaned up the planning act and brought in the Green Belt. Electricity: Banned incandescent bulbs, removed rules against clotheslines, closing coal fired power plants (or trying, anyways) Cycling: Eliminated sales tax on bikes and helmets.
But now he has topped it all; he has banned all mining and logging in half of the boreal forest (an area the size of Michigan) and restricted the other half to a "sustainable development" plan worked out with First Nations. "It is, in a word, immense. It's also unique and precious. It's home to the largest untouched forest in Canada and the third largest wetland in the world," McGuinty said.
Ontario forest image from Torontoist
Karen Howlett reports in the Globe and Mail:
Native leaders in Ontario have been pushing the government to change the province's mining laws to better protect their interests when companies explore on their traditional lands.
Mr. McGuinty said that permanently protecting the boreal lands also helps a world wrestling with the effects of climate change, as they are a globally significant carbon sink. The region absorbs about 12.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.
ForestEthics, which has been pushing for the changes for several years, applauded the announcement.
It's the "largest conservation commitment in Canada and raises the bar for environmental protection across this country and around the world," Gillian McEachern said in a statement. ::Globe and Mail
Forest Preservation activists love it.
"This is a visionary and unprecedented policy. Today's announcement fulfills the Premier's promise to protect the Boreal Forest by doing Land Use Planning before large scale industrial development. It sets out an incredible conservation agenda that will be a legacy for all our grandchildren and their grandchildren," -Janet Sumner, Executive Director of CPAWS Wildlands League. "The area set aside for protection is equivalent in size to the state of Texas, or twice the size of England." (um, no. Texas is 696,241 Km2, well over twice as big. the full boreal forest is 450,917 sq.km. )
More Green Action in Ontario:
Ontario Gets 407 Megawatts of Solar Power Contracts, Originally Expected 88 Megawatts
Ontario Bans Bans on Clotheslines
Bikes in Ontario are 8% Cheaper Today
Ontario Changes Environment Ministers
Ontario Election 2007: Who is the Greenest, Part 2
Ontario Election 2007: The Parties
New Energy Plan for Ontario: No Coal