In 1994, after more than four years of public hearings, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MOEE) approved a Class Environmental Assessment by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) for Timber Management on Crown Lands in Ontario.
Known as the Timber EA, the approval covered a wide range of forest management activities including forest management planning and the interrelated activities of harvest, access, renewal, and maintenance.
Of the 115 legally binding Terms and Conditions (T&C) the 1994 approval was subject to, T&C 114 required MNR to conduct a comprehensive review of the undertaking during the eighth year of the approval and submit a report outlining its findings to MOEE. The review was to contain recommendations to amend and extend the approval.
For about the last two years MNR has been busy preparing the review.
On or before July 17, 2002 MNR were required to submit to MOEE the Timber Class EA Review.
On May 17, MNR made available a draft of the Timber Class EA Review for public review and comment until June 17, 2002. NOTO submitted an 11 page document outlining the organizations comments, concerns, and recommendations regarding the proposed amendments.
Of greatest concern is MNR’s proposal to delete T&C 106, which required MNR to develop a provincial policy on roadless wilderness areas within three years of the approval. MNR is suggesting that they met the requirements of T&C 106 with a wilderness policy approved in 1997. NOTO believes that this suggestion is entirely untrue and that the policy, Ontario’s Approach to Wilderness: A Policy, is about parks and protected areas and not about the consideration of wilderness values on the intervening landscapes and waterscapes outside of these spaces. NOTO believes that the public has a right to remote experiences outside of parks and protected areas, and we have asked that MNR move forward quickly to develop an effective and comprehensive policy for the management of “remoteness” as a significant value in Ontario’s forests: a policy that addresses the full range of public and industry concerns and helps to ensure maximum value of our forests for all citizens of Ontario.
Beyond T&C 106, NOTO is asking that MNR reconsider the current make up of Local Citizens Committees (LCCs). MNR establishes a LCC, representing a range and balance of interests, in every management unit to participate in the forest management planning process.
NOTO believes that there are problems with LCCs in smaller communities where there sometimes ends up being an imbalance of interests in favour of the forest industry. NOTO is recommending that MNR prevent employees of the Forest Company a FMP is being written for from serving on the LCC.
Other general concerns that NOTO had with the draft Timber Class EA Review pertained to the cumbersome and complicated format of the document, the significant number of T&Cs being proposed for deletion with some not yet having been met, and the vague nature of proposed T&Cs.
NOTO will again review the Timber Class EA Review once submitted to the MOEE in July to see how MNR has considered our recommendations. I would encourage you to review the document as well. The Timber Class EA Review is expected to be posted to the Environmental Registry following it being submitted in mid-July. It can be accessed through the MOEE website at www.ene.gov.on.ca
I encourage anyone having comments, questions or concerns about MNR’s Timber EA Renewal Project to contact me at the NOTO office.
This article was taken from page 11 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Summer 2002 Issue