Timber Class EA Decision - Summary

Written By: Jim Antler
Research Analyst
Originally Published in the April/May 1994
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.

 

Following is a summary of key points of the Class EA Board’s decision. The day the decision was released, NOTO and the OFAH held a joint Press Conference at Queen’s Park in Toronto to outline our immediate reaction to the decision. The Board’s approval of timber management activities last for 9 years. After that time, the MNR will have to provide a review of its steps in meeting the conditions of this approval to the Minister of Environment and Energy. The Minister will then decide if the approval will be extended/amended beyond the 9 year period.

Public Participation in Timber Management Plan Development

Four formal steps for input during Plan development.

Remember that you can provide input to MNR any time during the planning process. You do not have to wait for an open house.

Timber Management Guidelines for the Protection of Tourism Values

Issue Resolution Process

Local Citizen’s Committees (L.C.C.)

Access Issues

Visual Resource Management

Clearcut Sizes

No-Cut Reserves

Integrated Resource Management

OTHER “INTERESTING” OPINIONS OF THE BOARD

To close off this summary, I would like to leave you with a number of direct quotes from the EA Board’s decision. Some clearly show that even though the Board may have recognized our concerns, they failed to appreciate the legitimacy and urgency of our concerns. Some are simply puzzling given what our industry has been told by MNR relating the province’s timber supply.

EA Board’s Opinion

“No convincing evidence was put before us that the Ontario forest industry is facing a timber shortage today or that one is likely in the future.” (EA Board Decision Summary, p. 7)

“MNR has told us that in the short-term, the Area of the Undertaking is sufficiently accessed to satisfy timber management purposes, but they will not predict requirements beyond five years.” (EA Board Decision, p. 126)

NOTO’s Response

If these two quotes are accurate, then why is our industry constantly told that there is no other wood left to cut than that around tourism lakes? Why is there a requirement to keep building access roads close to tourism lakes? NOTO has heard of many instances where MNR Districts have identified future wood supply shortages for some species.

EA Board’s Opinion

“…the problem we heard from many tourist operators: the construction of secondary and especially tertiary roads near shorelines giving the opportunity for all-terrain vehicles to make illegal trails onto lakes. Nothing can be done to prevent determined drivers of such vehicles from going off the legal roads except close surveillance but, in our opinion, it is unrealistic to assume that MNR could ever afford to patrol the forest against this activity….While some claims that MNR’s enforcement is lax, we have no evidence to support this. We believe solutions must be found in better planning for locating roads away from water, where restrictions are less likely to be required.” (EA Board Decision, p. 131)

NOTO’s Response

The Board has acknowledged there is a real problem here but have not mandated MNR to do anything about it! It is naive of the Board to expect this industry to believe that it is a simple matter of locating roads away from waterbodies. NOTO and the industry have been telling MNR this for years, but all too often we are told “sorry there is nowhere else to put the road”. And, when we ask for protection through road use restrictions, many MNR Districts are too reluctant to take the necessary steps. Once the access occurs, in almost every case it can never be stopped.

EA Board’s Opinion

“We have said repeatedly in this decision that a more integrated approach to resource management is laudable and we encourage it. But it is not something that can be rushed prematurely into place as one of the Coalition’s proposals would have us do. We believe that the mere quantification of one forest value (i.e. timber) gives it neither priority nor elevates it in importance over the others for which we are providing protection.” (EA Board Decision, p. 289)

NOTO’s Response

First, NOTO would argue that tourism has not been provided sufficient “protection” from timber management impacts in the past. The Board’s decision does little to make us feel this will improve in the future.

Second, it is clear that timber extraction has been MNR’s priority in management of the forests for decades. By not requiring a more integrated approach to resource management now, the Board has failed to elevate non-timber values to the same level of timber values.

EA Board’s Opinion

“Remote tourist operators fear from being put out of business when the forest industry moves into the areas with roads and logging. We are persuaded that these efforts can be minimized by the timber management guidelines on the protection of tourism values, on visual resources and road access. The long-term monitoring studies and the prominent participation we expect from tourist operators on Local Citizen’s Committees will also protect their interest.” (EA Board Decision Summary, p. 12)

NOTO’s Response

It has already been proven time and time again that the Tourism Guidelines are not effective enough for protecting tourism interests. They basically deal with the aesthetic concerns. However, while these are important, MNR has not (in practice) resolved our fundamental issues of inadequate reserves and access even though the Guidelines have been in existence since 1987.

NOTO supports the concept of Local Citizen’s Committees and feel they have an important role to play in timber management planning. In the past, however, local committees have not always been sympathetic to tourism issues. As one voice in many, tourism representatives are often out-voted when it comes to how to protect tourism values, since our industry’s needs from the forest are different than those of the forest industry, local business/community and some members of the public.

NOTO does not share the Board’s confidence that the Tourism Guidelines and Local Citizen’s Committees will “protect our interests”.

EA Board’s Opinion

“We believe that all stakeholders and forest values must be afforded protection against the adverse impacts of timber operations. Our Conditions of Approval hold MNR responsible for doing so: the forest is no longer the sole preserve of timber extraction and the public will never allow a return to the past where the value of the forest was calculated only by its worth as logs and pulp and paper.” (EA Board Decision Summary, p. 13)

NOTO’s Response

While the Board’s words are encouraging, NOTO does not share the Board’s enthusiasm that things have fundamentally changed when it comes to the management of our forests. There will no doubt be some improvements in how our forests are managed, but they do not go far enough, especially for our industry.

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