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Environmental commissioner decries logging in Algonquin

  • Dec 02, 2014
  • 643 words
  • 3 minutes
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Gord Miller certainly didn’t mince his words about how Algonquin Provincial Park needs to change.

“It’s high time that we brought it in line with modern values,” said Miller, Ontario’s environmental commissioner, in a statement after the release of his 2013-2014 annual report, in which he strongly urged the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to end commercial logging in the park, located about 260 kilometers west of Ottawa. “Right now, it does not even qualify as a protected area under international standards.”

While the report did say the ministry “should be commended for increasing the area under full protection from logging” in the park, it also noted that the environmental commissioner was “deeply troubled that … Ontario’s flagship park, continues to receive the lowest level of protection of all of the province’s protected areas.”

The report also said it was disappointing that the ministry’s 2013 amendment to the park’s management plan “appears to give little weight to the direction in the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserve Act, 2006 to prioritize ecological integrity in planning and managing the park. Indeed, the government has never allowed public consultation with regard to if Algonquin Park should be logged, only where and how much.”

With all this in mind, here’s a by-the-numbers* look at logging in the park.

1830 The approximate year in which commercial logging began in what is now Algonquin Provincial Park

1893 The year in which the park was established, making it Ontario’s oldest provincial park

339 The number of provincial parks in Ontario today

338 The number of provincial parks in Ontario today in which commercial logging is prohibited; Algonquin is the exception

3,797 The approximate size in square kilometres of the park in 1893

7,630 The size in square kilometres of the park in 2013

5,686 The size in square kilometres of Prince Edward Island

34.7 Percentage of the park in which logging is prohibited, as per the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ Algonquin Park Management Plan Amendment, finalized in June 2013

22.1 Percentage of the park in which logging was prohibited in 1998, under the Algonquin Provincial Park Management Plan

65.3 Percentage of the park that remains potentially open to logging

77.9 Percentage of the park that remained open to logging under the 1998 management plan

54 The percentage of the park that a 2006 Ontario Parks Board proposal recommended to be permanently protected from logging

1,350 The approximate size in square kilometres currently designated as available harvest area in the park for the 2010-2020 period

Two-thirds The portion of the park open to logging that the ministry acknowledges does not qualify as a “park” under international standards for protected areas

7 The number of zones into which the park is divided for specific land uses

1 The number of those zones in which logging is permitted

4,988 The area in square kilometres of that zone in 2013

5,949 The area in square kilometres of that zone in 1998

560 The approximate area in square kilometres within that zone that the ministry deems “not suitable” for logging

1,076 The approximate area in square kilometres within that zone that the ministry says is “currently unavailable for forest management” (i.e., not open to logging)

2,000+ The length in kilometres of active logging roads in the park, a number cited in Miller’s 2013-2014 annual report

5,400 The approximate length in kilometres of roads in the park that facilitate logging operations, according to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

5,485 The approximate length of a Trans Canada Highway route between Vancouver and Grand Falls, N.B., according to Google Maps

16 The minimum number of species at risk that make their home in the park

* Sources: Managing New Challenges, Annual Report 2013/2014, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario;; Ontario Parks; Statistics Canada.


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