Making the case for the value of protection

Recently, Quetico Foundation reps made a presentation before the Boreal West Regional Round Table.
Quetico Foundation has a 40-year history of concern for the well-being of Quetico Wilderness Park and over the years, this concern has extended to developing a working relationship with the communities most directly connected to the park–Lac La Croix First Nation and Atikokan.
For both communities, the park has provided economic opportunities for tourism, which have largely vanished elsewhere in the northwest where there are no large protected areas.
The presentation was delivered by Dave Elder, long-time resident of Atikokan, a superintendent of Quetico Park for 12 years, and now a Quetico Foundation trustee. The Foundation urged the round table to adhere to its instructions for dealing with Crown (i.e. public) land.
For the first time ever, protection and outdoor recreation and tourism have been placed on the same table as resource management, and they are all to receive equal consideration.
To reinforce this, in November, Natural Resources minister John Snobelen felt it necessary to instruct all the round tables that they were there to work within existing policies. These include policy and legislation aimed at making ecologically sustainable forestry a reality, and a policy for permitted uses within parks which does not include logging, mining exploration, or hydro electric development.
These policies have been developed painfully over the past decade with considerable public input.
The Quetico Foundation felt it would be difficult for the round table to deal with the onerous task of allocating land unless it had answers to some important questions. These include:
oan analysis of the long-term viability of existing operations in the wood industry; and
oa long-term ecological and economic analysis of benefits derivable from tourism and recreation opportunities which are vanishing elsewhere in the world.
Quetico Foundation pointed out that parks and protected areas occupy a relatively tiny space on Crown land, are virtually the only continuous forest cover, and are the only areas against which there is any opportunity for assessing the effects of human disturbance on the rest of the landscape.
They are, therefore, essential elements in any sensible management of Crown land.
Quetico Foundation made the following requests to the round table:
othat the round table support the protected areas objectives of the “Lands for Life” process as a necessary part of sound land management;
othat the round table recommend strongly to the minister that MNR retain the capacity to ensure implementation of the reforms of forest management; and
othat, as a quid pro quo for operating on Crown land, resource management companies be required to take on a stewardship role on Crown land which will ensure sustainability of the resource over the long term, and prevent adverse effects to protected areas adjacent to company limits.
The Foundation ended by acknowledging the difficulty of the task the round tables have been assigned.
But to work out sensible and innovative solutions, the round tables need information about wood supply over the long term, real employment opportunities, and the contribution of values other than resource extraction to the long-term well-being of the area.

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