|Vol.9 Number 3||
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Vol. 9 Number 3 - June/July 1999
On Yugoslavia - Depleted Uranium, Depleted Morals - EDITORIAL
"Peace" Plan Promoted War
To Slay a Dragon: GM Foods
Greenhouse Gases Can be Reduced
SPEC Presents 11-Point Plan For Climate Change
Trade Off On the Peoples' Lands
Cheviot Mine Permit Struck Down
Future Generations Will Go to Court
Let Them Eat Plastic
Where's The Beef?
Alcan Feeds While Nechako Chokes
The Heart of Turtle Island
Put the Pests to Rest-Without Toxics
Streams retain pesticides
Nukes in Canada's Heartland
"Problem" Reactors Shut Down-But Only Temporarily
Nukes & Rad Waste from Sea to Sea
Tests Crack Coral
Our Readers Write
FRIENDS OF CORTES ISLAND SECTION
The Evolution of Ecoforestry
Markets Lined Up for First Eco-Certified Forest in BC
North Island MacBlo Gets CSA Nod
Death Sentence for Greenwich Park
EDITORIAL - On Yugoslavia
Depleted Uranium, Depleted Morals
Canadians are slowly becoming alarmed at the abandonment of our role as international peacemakers as we participate in the rain of bombs on Yugoslavia. But the moral collapse of our nation extends to the willing contribution to a weapon of mass destruction made from our radioactive waste.
In May the US Defense Department confirmed its aircraft are firing depleted uranium (DU) munitions. DU is both radioactive and toxic, though NATO insists that it is no more dangerous than any other heavy metal.
The following points are excerpted from a speech at the University of Toronto in May 1999 by Dr. Rosalie Bertell, one of the world's leading authorities on the health effects of low level radiation:
"Peace" Plan Promoted War
The official line is that NATO had no choice but to bomb Yugoslavia because the Milosevic government refused to negotiate about Kosovo, a region where ethnic Albanians make up the majority. The Rambouillet accord, the US/NATO "peace plan" for Kosovo, a province of Serbia, was presented to Yugoslavia as a "take it or leave it" ultimatum which included these provisions:
The Yugoslav government indicated its willingness to accept the autonomy part of the agreement, but rejected other sections, including the occupation of Kosovo by NATO, as a violation of its national sovereignty.
The full document can be found at www.zmag.org and analysis of it can be found at the Swedish Transnational Foundation, www. transnational.org
* International Action Center, 39 West 14th St., #206,New York, NY 10011; ph: (212)633-6646; fax: (212)633-2889.
|"Bombing Yugoslavia is like trying to help settle a neighbour's domestic dispute by throwing a hand grenade into their house." - Peter Bromley, Sierra Club of BC|
|A study published in Nature in May says that the pollen from the widely-grown genetically modified BT-resistant corn kills Monarch butterflies when they feed on milkweed near the corn.|
An occurrence in London, England in late April, chronicled in the British press as "the most spectacular example to date of consumer power," has been all but ignored by the North American media.
Giants of the food industry are about to ban genetically modified (GM) foods in Britain, in spite of the Blair government's extensive shill campaign in their favour.
At nine o'clock the morning of April 26 two of the most powerful men in the global food industry turned up at the Greenpeace office in Islington, north London. Richard Greenhalgh, chairman of Unilever UK, the world's largest food manufacturing company, and Michel Ogrizek, international head of corporate affairs for the giant multinational, had come to suggest that some sort of full debate or discussion might be valuable. "We said that things had moved beyond that point," said Greenpeace executive director Peter Melchett.
By the next day the company had admitted defeat and announced it would stop using GM ingredients in its products in Britain. Unilever had been one of the most committed proponents of GM foods. In a face saving attempt it defended its long-held confidence in the technology, but stated that its benefits could not be realized until "full consumer trust and confidence" was won. An unprecedented onslaught from its own customers and worried and angry consumers has swamped telephone lines since early this year.
Like the crashing of dominoes, the giants of Europe's food industry tumbled over each other to follow Unilever's lead. The capitulation will mark an extraordinary reversal of the stealthy, rapid expansion of GM foods, from 0 to 60% of products on supermarket shelves in less than three years, and should trigger a turning point in the battle over genetic modification worldwide.
The British charity Christian Aid has demanded a five year freeze on GM technology and condemns "suicide seeds," which are scientifically manipulated so that the plants they produce yield sterile seeds, thus eliminating seed saving and creating a dependence on corporations holding patents and the means of production of such seeds.
Companies like Monsanto, Novartis and the British corporation Zeneca argue that GM technology will play a major role in ending hunger. Christian Aid counters that GM crops are creating classic preconditions for hunger and famine. Currently, 80% of crops in the developing world are grown from saved seed.
Monsanto has spent more than $1 billion buying seed companies in Brazil, owns major holdings in India's largest seed company and has paid more than $1 billion for the international seed operations of Cargill, the world's largest private grain sales company. Meanwhile there have been riots and crop burnings in Brazil and India to protest "suicide seeds."
Perhaps the thin edge of the wedge that would topple the GM giants was driven by an article last year in The Ecologist challenging genetic manipulation on environmental and moral grounds, written by HRH the Prince of Wales.
Perhaps St. George, the patron saint of England, has been stirred out of retirement and the first spear has been thrust into the side of yet another evil dragon.
* Sources: The Independent, The Guardian
Greenhouse Gases Can be Reduced
A report presents 17 steps (most of them no-brainers) for reducing
greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors of the economy, in a program
that will help Canada meet its international commitments.
Canada can meet its commitments under the Kyoto protocol, ac-cording to the recently published Canadian Solutions, a 17-step action plan for federal and provincial governments. This 100-page report presents a mix of fiscal, regulatory and voluntary initiatives that can be implemented immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors of the economy through the use of currently available technologies.
Each of the 17 measures is described in detail, with reference to the availability of relevant technologies and policies in Canada and other countries. The greenhouse gas reduction benefits of each measure are estimated and portrayed against Canada's most recent official projection of future greenhouse gas emission trends.
Taken together, the measures are projected to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions in the year 2010 by 144 megatonnes (six percent below 1990 levels)-enough to meet Canada's Kyoto commitment. Each measure includes additional environmental benefits, economic costs and benefits, and an implementation strategy for governments.
Among the 17 measures that make up Canadian Solutions are:
* Print copies of the full report are available for $15 from:
The David Suzuki Foundation, 2211 W 4th Ave, Ste 219, Vancouver, BC V6K 4S2;
tel: (604)732-4228; fax: (604)732-0752
The Pembina Institute, Box 7558, Drayton Valley, AB T7A 1S7;
tel: (403)542-6272; fax: (403)542-6464
SPEC Presents 11-Point Plan For Climate Change
The Vancouver-based Society for the Promotion of Environmental Conservation offers its program for improving our air.
Trade Off On the Peoples' Lands
BC takes first step towards privatizing Crown forests
by Lisa Matthaus, Sierra Club of BC
|The removal of more than 170,000 ha. of forest from public oversight severely restricts the opportunities for First Nations treaty settlements, community forests, the existing small business program and other needed community transition strategies.|
In March, leaked documents confirmed that the British Columbia government had agreed to compensate timber giant MacMillan Bloedel (MB) $83.75 million for parks created in the early 1990s on Vancouver Island. MB held timber rights to these public lands, but did not own the land. The government proposes to use up to 120,000 hectares of prime forest land as currency for payment. If the deal goes through as planned, all of these lands will be exempt from laws that protect both jobs and the environment.
The deal will mostly affect land on Vancouver Island, but some forests on the Sunshine Coast (Powell River) and the Queen Charlotte Islands are included. This deal has serious implications for the whole province, but the location of the land up for grabs on Vancouver Island make it of particular concern.
Almost all of southeast Vancouver Island, from Campbell River to Sooke (the Esquimalt & Nanaimo, E&N, railway land grant), is owned by logging companies. Some of the lands were absorbed into TFLs (Tree Farm Licenses) in the 1950s and 1960s: logging companies were granted access to more public forest in return for subjecting private land to government forest regulation.
However, this January the government agreed to remove almost all of TimberWest's private land from its TFLs (61,000 ha.) in exchange for 1,400 ha. of Goal Two parks acquired by the province. Now, MB wants to remove up to 90,000 ha. from its TFL. All of these lands will now be exempt from the Forest Practices Code, controls on logging rates and, as they are part of the E&N lands, exempt from provincial controls on raw log exports.
In addition, MB is asking for 20-30,000 ha. of public land as fee simple private land. Most of these public lands targeted by MB are the few parcels that the Crown has regained over the years in the E&N lands.
All together, removing more than 170,000 ha. (both the TimberWest and the MB deals) from public oversight severely restricts the opportunities for First Nations treaty settlements, community forests, the existing small business program and other much needed community transition strategies on Vancouver Island. It virtually eliminates the ability of the Ministries of Environment and Forests to manage for biodiversity, wildlife, recreation, and tourism on the entire southeastern quarter of Vancouver Island. This area includes almost all of one of BC's rarest ecosystems, the Coastal Douglas Fir Zone.
But it gets worse. Much of the Crown lands targeted by MB are close to fast-growing eastern Vancouver Island communities. When details of the deal first came to light, there were references to removing up to 5,000 ha. from the Forest Land Reserve (FLR) which 'protects' the forest land base from sprawling development. Landowners receive tax breaks, and can only remove their land for development with consent from the Forest Land Commission.
FLR Removal Will Happen Later
MB was to identify the parcels it wanted removed from the FLR and these would be valued more highly against the $83.75 million owed. However, the description and the maps displayed on the MoF website no longer make reference to this part of the deal. Given the huge profits to be made from properties near fast-growing communities, it is unlikely MB has given up on this wish. But if these lands were valued as ex-FLR, it would greatly reduce the amount of land transferred to MB in this deal. MB can wait for "development pressures" from the community to justify exclusion from the FLR in the (near?) future, reaping windfall gains from our public lands. If any of these lands are transferred to MB, a covenant should be award any future development gains, (over and above the value assessed for this deal) to the province.
By accepting MB's claims, especially for the TFL, the government is setting the stage for an avalanche of similar claims. Already this deal is being referred to as a 'model' for other claims from logging companies. Three more parks-related compensation deals are under negotiation elsewhere in the province, and at least nine licensees have been identified for possible compensation due to the completion of the Nisga'a treaty. The latter is particularly worrying, as the settlement of long-outstanding First Nations' claims is just beginning.
There are alternatives. The government could legislate an increase in the amount that can be removed from a forest tenure without compensation. A precedent for this was set by the Socreds in the 1980s when they set the 5% clawback that's still in existence today. Or, instead of paying MB in land or in current cash, the government could give them an annual stumpage credit, thereby paying off the debt over several years (e.g., a $10 million credit over 15 years is equal to $83.75 million today). MB could simply have the tenure they lost replaced by similar tenures -- but it wouldn't be private land.
TO DO: David Perry, a Victoria lawyer, will be conducting open- house public hearings in June throughout Vancouver Island, but not in Victoria or Vancouver (so far). Fax or mail comments to let him know how you feel about the use of public land as 'currency' and to demand public debate around the compensation issue before these deals proceed. He should also be encouraged to schedule hearings in Vancouver and Victoria.
Mr. David Perry, Suite 101, 2750 Quadra St., Victoria BC, V8T 4E8; fax: (250)380-3090; ph: (250)380-1566.
Maps of the candidate parcels can be viewed on the Ministry of Forests website at www.for.gov.bc.ca
Fish Farm Moratorium to Stay
In late May, BC Fisheries Minister Dennis Striefel announced that the government will not remove the provincial salmon farm expansion moratorium anytime soon. Streifel said there are still "many problems" that must be overcome before it's safe to lift the moratorium, and that the government would be taking the time needed to properly protect the environment before allowing the industry to expand. He pointed to the finding of spawning Atlantic salmon in the Tsitika River last fall as an example of one of the problems that has recently come to light.
Laurie MacBride, GSA Executive Director, said the group is "delighted" with the announcement and sees it as a victory. She adds that closed containment systems are the only way to prevent fish farm wastes, diseases, drugs or chemicals from getting into the marine environment.
* Marine-Wire, Georgia Strait Alliance, May 1999
Cheviot Mine Permit Struck Down
In April the Federal Court ruled in favour of Canadian conservation organizations that challenged the federal approval of the Cheviot open -pit coal mine adjacent to Jasper National Park. The court ruled that the joint federal-provincial environmental review did not comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), struck down the federal authorization for the mine issued under the Fisheries Act, and ruled that dumping of millions of tonnes of waste rock on migratory bird habitat does fall under the Migratory Bird Convention Act, which prohibits the deposit of substances harmful to migratory birds. The ruling states that the federal Migratory Birds Act protects migratory birds' nesting habitat, even on provincial lands.
The ruling clarifies the responsibility of the federal government to assess alternatives to developments (e.g. underground mining), and the cumulative effects of proposals.
The proposal must now go back to the review panel to consider the environmental information which it failed to consider the first time. UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has asked Canada to reconsider its approval of the mine which will be located to within 3 kilometres from Jasper National Park - a UN World Heritage Site.
The Alberta Wilderness Association, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canadian Nature Federation, Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development and Jasper Environmental Association were represented by the Sierra Legal Defence Fund.
* Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Apr 1999. For further information and maps: www.parksandwilderness.org/cheviot
Future Generations Will Go to Court
The Supreme Court of the Philippines has ruled that children have standing to sue on behalf of their generation and subsequent generations. Antonio Oposa, an attorney with the Philippines Ecological Network, is representing his own and 41 other children in trying to cancel all existing timber license agreements from the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The decision held that minors have standing to represent their own and future generations under the doctrine of intergenerational equity of the right to a balanced and healthful ecology.
* E-LAW Philippines
Let Them Eat Plastic
Although it's been an issue of concern for many years in the scientific community, the mainstream media is only just catching up with the fact that plastics and food may not mix.
In May 1999, Bessie Berry of the US Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) got a lot of press warning that plastic and foam food containers were designed for one-time only use and had never been tested for reuse.
Almost everyone who has reheated food in a microwave has used an old margarine tub or similar container. A lot of people reheat coffee in styrofoam cups. The message from FSIS was straightforward: Don't.
If you do, the food you're heating can be contaminated with chemicals in the plastic. Nor should you cover food on a plate with plastic wrap, as this can also leach chemicals into your food.
There were only two things wrong with Ms. Berry's warning: she didn't explain why consumers should be worried and she probably didn't go far enough.
The thing many people don't realise about plastic is that it's not a stable thing. All plastics are made up of many chemicals. Some of these chemicals give it strength, some make it flexible, some are there to stabilise it, binding the other chemicals together and keeping them from breaking apart.
Unfortunately, they do break apart. If you've bought a PVC (vinyl) shower curtain and, when you hung it up, felt as if you were being gassed, you were. Chemicals in that plastic were gassing out of the product.
So it isn't all that surprising to discover that, if you heat this highly unstable product, chemicals can leach out of it and into anything it touches.
Chemicals called phthalates hit the news in 1998 when Health Canada warned parents to avoid purchasing soft PVC toys for kids under three, as phthalates could leach into children's saliva if they sucked on the toys.
Phthalates are only one of many chemicals identified as endocrine disrupters. These synthetic substances can interfere with growth, development, reproduction, immune system functions and intellect in fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
Some chemicals in plastic are known to be bad news, some are suspected of being bad news, and others are still waiting to be identified (usually by accident) as bad news.
One such discovery was made by Tufts University scientists Ana Soto and Carlos Sonneschein. They were investigating the role of natural estrogen in breast cancer cell proliferation. When cells began proliferating all by themselves, Soto and Sonneschein discovered the cause was the plastic trays in which the cells were stored. The manufacturer had changed the formula of the plastic, but refused to tell them what the addition was, as this was a "trade secret". They went back to the lab, broke the plastic down themselves and discovered the culprit was a chemical called nonylphenol, widely used in plastics, pesticides, detergents, and shampoos. Until that point no one suspected nonylphenols were capable of mimicking natural estrogen.
Back to food: we know that another endocrine disrupter, bisphenol A, a breakdown product of the polycarbonate plastic used to line food cans, can leach into the food in those cans.
And, while you're chewing on that, here's another discovery Dr Soto has made: bisphenol A can also leach into the saliva of children from those polycarbonate plastic tooth sealants dentists are currently promoting.
Where's The Beef?
Unlike fashion editors, many synthetic chemicals, including endocrine disrupters, like fat. They seek it out.
So, again, it wasn't surprising when scientists at Consumers' Union analysed 19 samples of cheese sold in plastic wrap and discovered sometimes dangerously high levels of some chemicals in the plastic had migrated into the cheese.
One of these chemicals, DEHA (di-(2-ethylhexyl)adipate) had been identified as a concern in Europe. In the UK manufacturers substituted DEHA in plastic wrap with polymerised plasticisers more than 10 years ago, largely eliminating the problem.
Other studies show that chemicals in plastic wrap can migrate into beef.
As the chemical industry is quick to point out, we're not sure how much of a problem, if any, these residues in our food may cause. We certainly know there could be a problem.
Microwaving food in plastic is definitely a bad idea. Shaving the top layer of cheese which has been in contact with plastic is probably a good idea. How far should you go?
Ana Soto won't let her children's food come into contact with plastic even in the fridge. As a scientist she admits she may be erring on the side of caution. As a mother, she's not prepared to take a chance.
|Toxics, Ink Publications Society is a non-profit society dedicated to raising awareness of the impacts of toxic synthetic chemicals in the environment. To support us in producing reports like this one, please send a donation to: Toxics, Ink, 1672 East 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5N 1X5. For information call 604-879-2992; email: firstname.lastname@example.org|
Alcan Feeds While Nechako Chokes
Each agreement seems designed to give Alcan whatever it wants, and each agreement is worse than the previous one.
by Denis Wood
The lead item on the CBC National Radio News at 6 a.m. on Aug. 5, 1997 announced the out-of-court settlement of a court case between Alcan Smelters and Chemicals Ltd and the province of British Columbia. The agreement was hailed by the signing parties as achieving three objectives: the end of outstanding legal proceedings, security for the future of Alcan's smelter operations in Kitimat, and certainty for the future of the Nechako River.
Well, the first two ... maybe. Time will tell about the smelter operations at Kitimat. As for the future of the Nechako River, about all that's certain is that it will continue to choke to death for lack of water, water that is not required to provide for Alcan's needs, but to feed Alcan's insatiable greed.
Included in the deal was a water licence authorizing Alcan to divert 90% of the flows of the Nechako River, 2 % more than Alcan's Kemano Completion Project (KCP) originally called for. It also confirmed Alcan's ownership of the uncompleted diversion tunnel.
The current state of the Nechako results from three documents, each worse than the previous in terms of the health of the river. An agreement in 1950 gave Alcan the rights to divert both the upper Nechako and the Nanika Rivers of North Central BC, to fill the huge Nechako Reservoir and provide water to Alcan's electric power generators at Kemano.
In 1987, to settle an outstanding court case between Alcan and the federal government, Alcan was granted the right to divert 88% of the upper Nechako River while surrendering its claim to the Nanika.
Then, in 1997, to settle a court case between Alcan and the BC government, Alcan was given a final water licence for 90% of the river even though only about 50% (96 cubic metres per second) of the water is needed to provide Alcan's electrical needs at the Kitimat smelter. The surplus is sold to BC Hydro, which in turn retails some of this electricity into the United States, in one case providing for the electrical needs of an aluminum smelter in Washington State.
BC's NDP government and Alcan, in glossy advertising campaigns, convinced many that this latest deal between them addressed all the outstanding issues on the Nechako. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What follows is a little bit of recent history.
In 1995, following the release of the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) report on the Kemano Completion Project, Premier Mike Harcourt cancelled KCP. Unfortunately, he did not withdraw provincial government support for the 1987 agreement on which KCP was based. A series of negotiations about possible compensation to Alcan for the cancellation of the project were conducted between the parties for about a year and a half, with no result.
In June 1996, upon the invitation of the Fraser Basin Management Program (later to become the Fraser Basin Council), many people who had supported the river and its well-being attended an "exploratory workshop" at the Stoney Creek Reserve, south of Vanderhoof, BC.
Also attending was a large delegation representing the interests of Alcan, Kemano, Kitimat, and Terrace. These were people who, all of a sudden, had an interest in "exploring" two themes:
Through a series of skilful manoeuvres by parties representing the interests of Alcan and the communities of the northwest, all efforts by those with interests in the original purpose were defeated in efforts to effect meaningful change in the state of a very sick river.
The provincial government, by manipulating the "principals for sustainability" of the Fraser Basin Council, managed to keep defenders of the river embroiled in the useless process of forming a Nechako Watershed Council. Using the Fraser Basin Council's principles of "inclusivity" and "recognition of existing agreements," Alcan and its allies were able to ensure this process would go nowhere.
Fourteen months after the initial meeting and before the group could even agree upon its terms of reference, the Glen Clark NDP government cut a deal with Alcan behind closed doors to settle the court case that it was reported to have claimed it couldn't lose.
Those of us with a love of the river and nothing else to support our activities, having spent countless hours in meetings which accomplished nothing, were furious. The one issue which had been continually stressed in the meetings, which were faithfully attended by representatives of Alcan and the provincial government, was that the Nechako's defenders must have input into any agreement between Alcan and the government. We were ignored! Alcan got everything it dreamed of getting. The Nechako got nothing.
For example, under the terms of the 1987 Settlement Agreement between Alcan and Canada, a water release facility at Kenny Dam (which would introduce cold water directly into the river during the summer, to assist migrating sockeye) became part of the Kemano Completion Project. Cost estimates were in the range of $200 million.
It was Alcan's responsibility to build this facility. The 1987 Settlement Agreement required that until this facility was built, additional water would have to be released into the Nechako River, during the warmest part of the summer, for temperature control. The volume of these "cooling flows" is 15.2 cubic metres per second annual average flow. Once the Kenny Dam Release Facility was built, these cooling flows would no longer be required, allowing Alcan to store the 15.2 cm/s for additional power production.
This facility was a part of KCP, but upon the government's cancelling the project, Alcan took the position it was no longer its responsibility. Under the 1997 agreement, the cost of the facility (about $200 million) will now be shared between Alcan and the province, with Alcan's maximum contribution being $40 million.
In November 1997, on behalf of the group trying to form a meaningful Nechako Watershed Council, the Fraser Basin Council sent a written request to the government and Alcan. This letter asked for a commitment that the "cooling flows be permanently dedicated to the Nechako River even if a water release facility was constructed at Kenny Dam." The request that this water continue to be released into the river was rejected by both Alcan and Paul Ramsey, the minister in charge of the issue.
At this point, those of us with interests in saving the river resigned from the Fraser Basin Council-sponsored process to form a new group called the Nechako River Alliance. The remaining group, now controlled by Alcan and its allies from Kitimat/Terrace, and unencumbered by our presence, agreed on terms of reference within a matter of months.
A recent analysis of the group that became the Nechako Watershed Council presents an interesting picture. Of the 15 organizations that met in Kemano from Sept. 11-13, 1998 (the first meeting following the inaugural meeting two months earlier), seven represent interests (in Kitimat, Kemano, and Terrace) that are best served by the continued or increased diversions of water away from the Nechako.
Four of the remaining members represent provincial, regional, and municipal governments.
The balance represent two economic development agencies and a cattlemen's association in Vanderhoof, and a Native Indian band from the Prince George area.
This is hardly a group that is likely to achieve any improvement in the health of the river. In fact, most will not even acknowledge the river has a problem.
The Nechako River Alliance (NRA), on the other hand, contains nine groups ranging from residents of the upper Nechako to those who harvest and process salmon on the coast. Its inaugural meeting took place in Vanderhoof, in June 1998. Within six months, the Alliance had submitted a proposal for a scientific study of the needs of the river.
This study is to be conducted outside of the constraints of industry's water requirements. The proposal received support from the David Suzuki Foundation, the Georgia Strait Alliance, and the Northwest Institute for Bioregional Studies (Smithers, BC).
In November of 1998, the proposal was submitted to the Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund Management Committee, set up by the 1997 BC/Alcan agreement. To date, no response has been received. In the meantime, the status quo continues and the river suffers.
What can readers do? Write to Paul Ramsey, Minister of Education and the minister in charge of Alcan relations. Ask him to encourage and support the Nechako Environmental Enhancement Fund Management Committee to emphasize the needs of the river, and, in this context at least, to ignore commercial uses for the water.
* Contact: Paul Sanborn, Allied Rivers Commission, Box 293, Vanderhoof, BC V0J 3A0.
The Heart of Turtle Island
The Trans-Canada WaterWalk tried to open the eyes of government, and preserve the resource for the children.
by Eloise Charet
I began the Trans-Canada Water-Walk, in the company of many others, on May 8, 1998, in Victoria, BC. For six months, we walked 5,000 km across our nation to listen and speak to Canadians about our concern for pure water, and for life itself.
I think three-legged frogs are telling us something.
In August, we visited the Sakgeeng reserve along the Winnipeg River in Manitoba (see Power and Politics Along the Winnipeg River, Watershed Sentinel, Feb/March 1999 .) We were received like family; from repairing our car to cleansing spiritual sweats and dinner. It seems that the people most touched by disaster were the most compassionate.
Red Cloud showed us his grandson's arms and legs with burnt and peeling flesh: "I told you not to go swimming in the river; in one generation our water has become poison." Cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis were rampant. One home had three generations all in wheelchairs. Clem and Phyllis Courchesne told us about losing their healthy 21-year-old son to cancer this year. During our short stay, we witnessed two funerals and knew of one young dad dying of cancer in the hospital.
We met many heros, like Gary Raven and his wife who devote their lives to fighting the pollution of the mill at Pine Falls. There are also problems with the dam and a nuclear plant upstream, which has had two toxic spills that we know of.
Where does it all begin or end? They found pharmaceutical drugs in the Assiniboine River. They fog Winnipeg and surrounding areas with insecticide to get rid of the mosquitoes even though university research has proven this is useless. I think three-legged frogs are telling us something.
Polluted water is a problem all across the nation, from the salmon and the cod going extinct on both coasts, to reserves in Ontario, such as Grassy Narrows, where people are blinded and crippled by mercury and other toxins in their water.
At Long Lac, Ontario, children showed us the holes in their bodies from flesh-eating parasites in the lake. One woman my age confided, "I'm the only one left in my family." An elder in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, stated, "Tell them in Ottawa that we are dying." He passed away that night. How can one ever forget their faces?
So much sorrow, so much pain, this is a crime against humanity, a sin against the earth. My grandmother once told me that "good government is equal to the quality of water given to our children."
As we walked into Ottawa in October, my family farm in New Denver, BC, was burned to the ground. Within a few weeks, two other homes of people involved with WaterWalk burned as well. The elders told us this was no coincidence. Feeling terrorized by a force greater than myself and intimidated on Parliament Hill, all I could do was weep and pray for the water.
On the coldest days, my thoughts would return to the warm summer afternoon when Thunder Bear took us to the Heart of Turtle Island, where the history of the Annishnate people lay carved in the rocks.
At this place of myth where genesis began, the sun shimmered on the Black River, dotted with ancient turtle-back stones.
He showed us the footprint of the little boy who set off in the four directions to find a way to save his dying people. Today, the little-boy drum is used in healing sweats and we listened to stories of miraculous cures-a sure sign that these survivors of an environmental tragedy at the core of our nation have birthed the seeds of salvation.
My daughter, Emma, dove into the liquid light of the river; a young eagle flew by. I believe the message from the Heart of Turtle Island is one of love and hope to all future generations.
* Mitakuye quasin, to all our relations, Eloise Charet, New Denver, BC
Put the Pests to Rest-Without Toxics
A guide to putting your home and garden on de-tox, the safe way.
You use pesticides to kill bugs, but they may also cause short and long-term health problems for yourself and your family.
Immediate contact with pesticides can irritate the eyes, nose and skin, cause short-term breathing problems and, in high doses, make your family feel nauseous and sick. Prolonged contact with certain pesticides can cause severe and lasting health problems and damage organs. Exposure to some pesticides is linked to cancer, birth defects and hormone system disruption. Children, seniors, pets and non-target species (such as birds and beneficial insects) are most at risk.
Pesticide use also leads to serious water pollution and toxic persistence. Pesticides can leach into and poison groundwater and run off into streams and rivers. Many people believe pesticides are gone within a few days of application. The truth is the half life (the time it takes for half the product to break down) of modern pesticides can range from days to weeks to years, in some cases. Finally, pesticides accumulate in fats such as milk fat or fish and animal fats, and may also remain as residue on the skins of vegetables.
Pesticides are easily absorbed through our skin when we come into direct contact with sprayed grass, or furniture and clothing if our home has been fumigated. Never apply insect repellent directly onto bare skin. Headlice shampoos containing pesticides should never be used.
Pesticides can be inhaled as they are being sprayed and also for a period of time afterwards.
Fruits and vegetables are always a healthy choice, however, they are often sprayed with toxic pesticides while growing or when shipped to stores. Luckily, you can reduce or eliminate your family's intake of toxic chemicals present in food. Buy organic where available, wash all fruits and vegetables with soap and water and cut off the fatty parts of fish and meat since harmful chemicals are stored in fat.
Getting Rid of the Pests
FOR INSECT REPELLENT:
STOP using: DEET (found in Muskol, Off, et al.)
USE: Rub white vinegar, citronella, or pennyroyal mint on skin, or try Avon's Skin So Soft, which contains citronella.
STOP using: Shampoos containing pesticide Lindane, and petroleum-based shampoos like Pyrethrin.
USE: Shampoo containing coconut oil (sodium lauryl ether sulfate) such as SH-206; comb hair with a nit comb; wash bedding, towels, and stuffed animals.
STOP using: Toxic pesticides: Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon, Bendiocarb, and others.
USE: Diatomaceous earth or boric acid, boric acid gels, and non-toxic roach traps, placed in areas where it's difficult to plug holes and cracks (e.g., under the fridge or stove.)
STOP using: Toxic pesticides: Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon, Bendiocarb, and others.
USE: Non-toxic recipes or diatomaceous earth, borax (find entry point, seal the crack, and wipe with soapy water to erase trail).
STOP using: Pesticide DDVP
USE: Flyswatter, non-toxic flypaper, screens on windows and doors.
FOR MICE AND RATS:
STOP using: Rodent poisons (arsenic).
USE: Traps and/or cats.
NB: To deal with all indoor pests, keep your home free of food scraps and crumbs, wash dishes immediately, store food in air-tight containers, plug cracks, fix dripping faucets, and keep all areas of your home dry.
FOR FLEAS AND TICKS:
STOP using: Soaps, shampoos, or sprays containing DDVP, Fevalerate, Carbaryl, carbamate, D-Limonene.
USE: Shampoos with fatty acids and potassium oleate, non-toxic flea repellent, brewer's yeast in the pet's diet, and wash pet's bedding regularly and vacuum often.
FOR GREEN LAWNS:
STOP using: Pesticides containing 2-4D, Glyphosate, Diazinon and chemical-based fertilizers (found in products such as Weed N' Feed and Roundup).
USE: Organic lawn care, non-toxic repellents to control pests, natural or non-toxic fertilizers, aerate lawn and remove weeds by hand, over-seed in spring or fall so grass will out-compete the weeds, soak deeply but infrequently, and fertilize with grass clippings.
STOP using: Professional sprays or store products containing toxic pesticides: Chlorpyrifos, Diazinon.
USE: Natural repellents such as companion-planting and crop rotation, rub or spray non-toxic repellents on leaves (essential oil, natural insecticidal soap, garlic spray) or diatomaceous earth around roots, use screens or barriers, and hoe regularly to make weeds easier to remove.
*This information has been adapted from pamphlets by Toronto Environmental Alliance and the Georgia Strait Alliance. For more information, contact:
* Georgia Strait Alliance, 201-195 Commercial St., Nanaimo, BC, V9R 5G5; ph: (250)753-3459; email@example.com
* Toronto Environmental Alliance, 122 St. Patrick St., #209 Toronto, ON, M5T 2X8 ; ph: (416)596-0660; firstname.lastname@example.org
Streams retain pesticides
By Lisa Stiffler
A survey of pesticides in urban Puget Sound-area streams indicates that concentrations rise-sometimes to levels lethal to aquatic life-as sales peak in local home and garden stores.
The study by the US Geological Survey, the state Department of Ecology, and King County covered 12 streams in King and south Snohomish counties last year in April and May, the months when residential pesticide use peaks.
The long-term impact of pesticides in the water is unclear. No drinking water is taken from the streams, so the potential damage to human health appears limited, says USGS Supervisory Hydrologist Jim Ebbert.
The sampling was done after storms, when run-off was heavy, and during months of high pesticide use to determine when the most pesticide would be present.
Twenty-three pesticides were detected in the streams, five of the products at levels above concentrations safe for aquatic organisms.
* Contact: Erika Schreder, Director, Pesticide Reform Project, Washington Toxics Coalition, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Suite 540-East, Seattle, WA 98103; (206)632-1545, ext. 19.
Nukes in Canada's Heartland
Cabinet is determined to allow test burning of weapons-grade plutonium.
Cabinet has approved the test burning of weapons-grade plutonium from dismantled American and Russian warheads in experimental reactors at Chalk River, northwest of Ottawa. An all-party committee of the House of Commons had specifically ruled out such a test burn, saying the option is "totally unfeasible." However, the government appears determined to go ahead, citing Canada's duty to contribute to nuclear disarmament, despite opposition from nuclear activists, Greenpeace, local politicians and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), which represents 17,000 firefighters and emergency medical personnel in Canada.
The United States and Russia will each ship eight tubes with small samples of mixed oxide fuel (MOX) containing the plutonium to determine if CANDU reactors owned by Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL) would be suitable for large-scale disposal. The first shipments will amount to about 150 grams, mounted in tanks on heavy trucks. Russia and the US each have about 50 tonnes to dispose of.
David Collenette, the federal Transport Minister, says the firefighters were wrong to suggest transportation of plutonium would be dangerous. "There are 27 million shipments of dangerous goods annually. Very, very few, less than 1% of those shipments, ever spill and cause problems. Much of the information put out by the association is erroneous," says the Minister. [1% of 27 million is 270,000 - WS]
Concerns centre around: the transport of large quantities of the plutonium, which could be attractive to terrorists; issues about Canadian sovereignty because of the security required for such shipments; strong uncertainty about the appropriateness and safety of Ontario's aging CANDU reactors for such use of plutonium; and the hazards of shipping accidents. Once dispersed into the air, even by a conventional explosive, plutonium is up to a million times more toxic than uranium.
* Hansard, House of Commons, Globe and Mail, Toronto, April 1999
* See also Starting Fires in Hell: Why CANDU Can't Do Plutonium Burn-Up, Watershed Sentinel, Aug/Sept. 1997.
For more information contact:
* The Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, C.P. 236, Station Snowdon, Montral PQ H3X 3T4. fax: 514-489-5118, email: email@example.com; website: www.ccnr.org
* Kristen Ostling, Campaign for Nuclear Phaseoout, ph: 613-789-3634; fax: 613-241-2292; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Problem" Reactors Shut Down-But Only Temporarily
Faced with the worst nuclear safety and performance problems in its history, Ontario Hydro has temporarily shut down eight of its 20 reactors. Rather than cutting its losses and shutting them down permanently, Ontario Hydro plans to re-start the four Pickering and the four Bruce A reactors.
This nuclear mega-project will cost $5 billion over the next four years, and a staggering $22 billion through the year 2009.
High cost is not the only problem. These older reactors have had serious accidents, leading to increased radioactive pollution and the risk of core meltdown.
No other nuclear plant in the world is surrounded by as large a population as Pickering. More than 1.5 million people live within 30 km. As well, no country in the world has solved the radioactive waste problem.
Coal-generated electricity is no alternative. Its pollution causes climate change, acid rain, and smog. Renewable energy and efficiency programs are the real solutions. But Ontario Hydro and the provincial government are repeating the mistakes of the past by rebuilding their old nuclear and coal plants.
You can make a difference by speaking out for a green energy future:
* Write to Ontario Energy Minister, Jim Wilson: Hon. Jim Wilson, Ontario Minister of Energy, 4th floor, 77 Wellesley St. W., Toronto, ON M7A 2E1; fax: (416)327-6754; email: email@example.com
* For more information, contact the Nuclear Awareness Project, Box 104, Uxbridge, ON, L9P 1M6, tel/fax: 905-852-0571, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nukes & Rad Waste from Sea to Sea
The Atomic Atlas of Canada-Overview and Map collects data on radioactive sites across Canada (since no government inventory exists).
For an in-depth look at Canada's nuclear industry, the Radio Active Inventory Project has produced The Atomic Atlas of Canada-Overview and Map. The Atlas provides information on Canada's uranium operations, reactor technologies, and the associated radioactive wastes.
Canada's nuclear industry was born in secret, during wartime, more than 50 years ago. The associated technologies and their consequences remain practically invisible to most Canadians even today.
Canada was the first country to mine uranium and remains the world's largest producer and exporter. All uranium mined in Canada since 1965 has been sold for reactor fuel, and countries buying Canadian uranium must promise not to use it for weapons. But there is evidence that some of this uranium still finds its way into bombs.
During World War II, Canada was on the cutting edge of plutonium research to demonstrate the most efficient methods for producing and extracting plutonium. The nuclear weapons capability of several countries, including Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Korea, Argentina, Romania, and China, were developed through Canadian research and CANDU clones.
The Atlas provides current research data on isotope production, food irradiation, high level liquid radwastes, and plutonium fuel in Canada.
Spent nuclear fuel is extremely radioactive and can spontaneously generate a form of heat called "radioactive decay heat." The complicated procedure of cooling spent fuel in water (seven years), storing in dry silos (10 years), and finally burying the waste in the Canadian Shield has been proposed by the nuclear industry. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. predicts that the thermal pulse from burying spent CANDU fuel in the Canadian Shield will last 50,000 years.
The purpose of the Atlas is to collect data on radioactive sites across Canada. No official government inventory of these sites exists.
* Copies of the Atlas and Map are available in English and French:
The Atomic Atlas of Canada - Overview and Map, $4 per copy.
Nuclear Map of Canada Ledger Size (11" x 17"), $2 per copy.
Poster-size (22" x 34"), $14 per copy. Send cheque or money order to: Radioactive Inventory Project, 412-1 Nicholas St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7;
* For more information , consult the web at: www.cnp.ca or www.ccnr.org
Tests Crack Coral
In May, French authorities admitted there are fractures in the coral at Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls in the south Pacific. Between 1966 and 1996 the French Government conducted 193 nuclear bomb tests above and below the two atolls.
Greenpeace Australia says the admission throws doubt on many of the other claims about the effects of nuclear testing in French Polynesia. "Last year the French revealed that plutonium had leaked into the lagoon at Moruroa and one year later they admit to cracks in the coral of the atoll," said Greenpeace.
"Meanwhile, French officials continue to maintain that there is no cause for environmental or health concerns in the area."
* Greenpeace Australia, May 1999
Politicians who cater to corporate interests are in a clear conflict of interest.
by Lyle Fenton
|Quisling (kwiz'ling) n.: (From the I.T.P. Nelson Canadian Dictionary): "A traitor who serves as the puppet of the enemy occupying his or her country. - After Vidkum Quisling (1887-1945), head of Norway's government during the Nazi occupation (1940-1945)."|
Governments are elected to carry out the public's business. It is paramount they do just that.
In their very public positions, governments are under intense scrutiny by elected members of the opposition and the public at large. They must pass the test of putting the larger good of society before private interests. In doing so, all levels of government must take into consideration the well-being of society in general, and act in the public interest.
The public or societal interest incorporates values far beyond the ledger sheets of the free-for-all market system and the bottom line, and those who would tell us that by looking after private interests, the spin-off effect will take care of the public. The public interest must value the maintaining of a healthy society economically, socially, and environmentally.
When one compares this to the mandate of the directors of private companies, a mandate solely to affect the bottom line and provide the most financial gain to shareholders, it becomes obvious that public and private interests are fundamentally different.
The functions of a private corporation are not meant to take into consideration what benefits society as a whole. They are specific to the operation of the particular corporation or sector of the corporation in question.
Let's apply the conflict of interest test to private boards.
If directors of a company or corporate board operate on the basis of looking after society in general, they put themselves in a conflict of interest with regard to their mandate. People are promoted to these boards by their positive effect on the bottom line, not by democratic process. They must act in the financial interest of their shareholders, unless it can be shown, in their consideration of the larger good, there is a positive effect on the bottom line: the profit. We must not be conned by the argument that what's good for free-for-all market system is, without question, good for society and the environment.
We often see the media reporting on real or perceived conflicts of interest where specifics are involved, but not in a general application. We need to apply conflict of interest principles or philosophy in the manner for which they are intended.
We should consider the conflicts between the public and private sectors when we analyse the activities of our federal politicians, who are drafting international trade agreements.
The MAI has been put aside for now, however, the principles that were to be carried out in the MAI are presently being negotiated and put into agreements by the World Trade Organization and in the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement.
In a very cunning way, these agreements circumvent our constitution and judicial law. They're being put together to favour private sector activities within our economic system, and have written into them language which prohibits duly elected governments from carrying out their mandates to act in the public interest.
Under these agreements, if government policy in any way interferes with what would enhance the bottom line of the international companies doing business, the government responsible for the policy can be sued for potential lost profit. All cases are to be heard by tribunals who will pass judgment under international law, which supercedes national, provincial, or municipal law. Sovereignty is relinquished. Democracy is foreclosed.
Does this not place governments which sign such agreements in a conflict of interest?
* Contact: Lyle Fenton, Councilor, District of Squamish, at: email@example.com
Our Readers Write
The Watershed Sentinel invites you to write but reserves the right to edit for clarity, brevity, legality and taste
|Lost Contracts for BC, Old Growth in France
Maybe you know this, but it's always a pleasure to remind people that the international campaign against the deforestation in B.C. has already been fruitful in France:
The paper firm Ahstrom and the distribution chain Pinault Distribution didn't renew their commercial contracts with two Canadian forest development companies from BC which used to supply them with wood: Western Forest Products and Interfor, which are respectively the second and third most important Canadian forest development companies.
The distribution chain, Point P, of the group Poliet (a Saint Gobain subsidiary company) declared it would put sustained pressure on the same previously mentioned wood suppliers, insisting that the wood must be FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified.
Other firms canceled their contracts with those Canadian companies, most particularly in Belgium, England and Germany, amounting to a total of 10 billion dollars in lost sales.
This information was taken from the monthly Alternatives Economiques, February 1999.
* Jacques Dalet, President, Alliance et Resistance Franco Canadian, Marseille, France
|Shade Grown, Fair Trade Coffee in Sechelt
We roast & sell certified organic, shade-grown, co-op and fair trade coffees, and were very pleased to see the article on shade-grown coffee in the Dec/Jan issue. The Seattle Audubon Society runs the Northwest Shade Coffee Campaign and, if you were interested, I would ask them to supply a list of members so that your
We buy some of our green coffees from Sustainable Harvest and are, of course, members of the Shade Coffee Campaign.
* Alison LeDuc, Strait Coffee Traders, Sechelt, BC; (604)885-9757
Shade Coffee is also available in Vancouver BC from Shady Coffee, (604)733-8134; www.ecologycoffee.com
We are finding the Watershed Sentinel very informative and have been sharing it with others. It is a good idea except when the issue never comes back because they don't know what became of it. It is the one magazine I read cover to cover almost as soon as it arrives. Continue the good work.
* Ken and Alison Knight, Goderich, ON
The Evolution of Ecoforestry
Cortes Island seeks a brighter future for its forests.
by Liza Morris
Cortes Island stands on the brink of a revolution--or a higher stage of evolution--in its local forest practices.
The newly formed Cortes Ecoforestry Society (CES) and the Klahoose First Nation are preparing a community forest tenure application for the roughly 6,000 hectares of Crown land on the island. The plan is modelled on the approach of the Silva Forest Foundation, which focuses on forest sustainability and diversity--a far cry from the clear-cut, quick-cash methods of most forest companies in BC.
In April, Herb Hammond, of the Silva Forest Foundation, attended a public information meeting on Cortes to discuss the difference between current logging methods and ecoforestry practices.
It quickly became clear that forest ecosystems are much more complex and intricate than current forestry practices would have us believe. Hammond began by explaining that the biggest problem we have with understanding forests is time: we never see the full results of our actions. Also, we still know very little about the role of fungi, rocks, minerals, forest soil, and microorganisms in overall forest health. So, with a shocking lack of information, we proceed to destroy the ecosystems that give us life.
Hammond made this point succinctly when he introduced the topic of water. On Cortes Island, we are entirely dependant on ground water for our water supply. Unlike most main land areas, we cannot depend on spring melt and mountain runoff.
Water, according to Hammond, is the ultimate product of the forest: "On Cortes no wetland area is too small to protect."
In a natural forest, water is filtered and stored. For example, decayed wood on the forest floor holds 20 times more water than mineral soil of the same volume. Water is also caught on tree needles in the form of rain or dew. In a multi-layered, old growth forest canopy, the needles slow down and maintain steady water filtration.
Hammond's solution to our forest crisis is to change the way we practice forestry. First, we need a broader vision when planning for future forest health, thinking ahead 250 to 500 years and taking into account forest cycles far beyond our own lifetimes. As an immediate step toward future forest sustainability, many current forest practices need to be changed. This includes:
To achieve these goals, there must be a radical shift from managing ecosystems to managing human activity in ecosystems--beginning to focus on what to leave, not on what to take.
An added benefit of this new approach to forestry is the creation of an ecosystem-based economy which is built on protecting natural systems. According to Hammond, this type of timber use can recover three-to-ten times the timber employment per tree cut, as compared to clear cuts and plantations. The benefits include
In an ecosystem-based economy, the community initiates diverse forest activities that protect ecosystem function at all scales through time.
Conventional forestry creates fragmented ecosystems, with isolated islands of forest amidst clear-cuts.
On Cortes, with an integrated island-wide forest, there is the opportunity to provide healthy ecosystems and increased employment, and to encourage greater community participation in forest maintenance for generations to come.
Markets Lined Up for First Eco-Certified Forest in BC
British Columbia's first eco-certified forest was announced in March by Herb Hammond of the Silva Forest Foundation (SFF). SFF awarded eco-certification to Cariboo woodlot licensee Rod Blake, marking the emergence of BC into a rapidly expanding global market for certified wood products.
Blake's 670-hectare woodlot east of Williams Lake is a model of ecoforestry. Using selective logging methods, careful road design and an ecosystem-based plan, Blake can extract timber while maintaining a fully-functioning forest. He anticipates profitably taking out logs for years to come, while protecting animal habitat, providing biodiversity reserves, and allowing for recreational and cultural uses of the forest.
"Our certification program highlights what can truly be done in the forests of BC. By logging in an ecologically responsible manner, by maintaining benefits locally, and by truly valuing the wood in BC, certified ecoforesters not only protect our forests, they are also building the foundation for long-term, high-value employment," says Hammond.
SFF has lined up various markets for the certified wood from Blake's woodlot, including Alliance Timber Frames of Nakusp, BC, that has re-trained displaced loggers, and has a profitable export market for garden shelters. By using certified wood, Alliance hopes to tap into the large US market for certified products.
SFF is a founding member and has applied for accreditation with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - a broadly-supported international body that accredits and monitors certifiers. If accreditation is granted, all SFF certifications - including Blake's woodlot - that took place after May 1998 will retroactively be FSC certified as well.
Globally, the demand for certified forest products is clearly in excess of supply, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. Since 1997, the global flow of certified wood has increased from 1% to almost 7% of the total wood market, and is growing rapidly.
* For more information, Susan Hammond (250) 226-7222
North Island MacBlo Gets CSA Nod
Meanwhile MacMillan Bloedel's division on northern Vancouver Island has passed an audit for certification to the industry-sponsored Canadian Standards Association's (CSA) Sustainable Forest Management standard. The area to be certified includes 230,000 hectares of public and private forest lands near Campbell River and Sayward with a 1999 cut of 1.4 million cubic metres.
MB has said they will also be applying for Forest Stewardship Council certification on the coast. Judging from local reaction when the company pitched its variable retention logging plans on Cortes Island lately, community endorsement of the new "green" logging will require a lower cut, more long term planning and less ecobabble.
* MacMillan Bloedel, April 1999, D. Broten
A legacy for the Third Millennium
by Don Malcolm
On March 27 Leadership Initiative For Earth (LIFE) held a celebration to honour Merv Wilkinson and his many years of innovative forestry at his sustainable woodlot, Wildwood.
The event, attended by more than 250 visitors, also launched LIFE's millennium project, LIFEship 2000. The 80-foot-long wooden ship will be built in Vancouver using timbers selectively and ecologically harvested from forests in British Columbia, and will use environmentally friendly technologies, both during construction and after, for propulsion, waste management, and energy generation.
Located in the Yellow Point area midway between Nanaimo and Ladysmith, Wildwood, under Merv's stewardship, has become an example of sound forestry practices and an inspiration to the growing body of people who decry rapacious methods of clear-cut logging.
In 1938 Merv purchased the 136-acre forest that would become Wildwood Forest Farm. His first cut began in 1945 and continued on a five-year rotational basis. Since 1990, cutting has occurred annually. Wildwood has 10% more timber standing today than it had when he bought it, and more than the original standing value has been harvested in the last 55 years.
Merv and Wildwood have become very well known over the past 10 years. They've been featured in a number of film documentaries since the publication of the book, Wildwood, A Forest for the Future, written by Ruth Loomis and published by Reflections, Gabriola, BC.
Merv's approach to sustainable forestry incorporates a philosophy wherein every component of the forest is ordained. From the soil and the fungi to the undergrowth and the trees themselves, from the creatures, including human, who make homes there to the birds that fly throughout, each component is an integral part. But the simplest part of Merv's philosophy appears not to be understood by the commercial forest industry and government regulators. To achieve sustainable forestry the rate of cut in a given forest must not exceed the annual growth.
Jay Rastogi is a member of the Ecoforestry Institute and has been associated with Merv Wilkinson for the past 18 months. He now lives at Wildwood where he has organized and conducted youth summer camps and recently tutored a group of young women from LIFE through a three-month internship where they became familiar with Wildwood's principles of sustainable forestry. The keen enthusiasm of Jay and the interns was evident as they guided guests on tours through the trails and roadways of Wildwood.
The tours terminated on a ridge near Merv's house where the first tree to go into the building of LIFEship was to be cut down.
When all were assembled the young man who would fell the tree, Teri Dawe, came walking down the trail wearing safety gear and carrying a chainsaw and the tools he would need to do the job. He stopped at the base of the chosen tree and gave a brief talk. He said he worked as a faller in commercial forest operations but that he preferred the occasional cutting he did for Merv. "This tree," he said, "is about 180 years old. It leans there," he said, pointing, "but it's going over there." He indicated an angle almost 90 degrees from the direction of the tree's natural lean. Then he walked along the line he had indicated, pointing out saplings he hoped to spare in the falling.
He started the chainsaw, made the undercut then turned to the backcut. With a few deft motions with the saw, interspersed with tapping of wedges, the tree crashed to the ground as if irresistibly drawn to a chalk line exactly where Teri said it would fall, a scant two feet from the nearest sapling. The eager interns converged on the stump to count the annual growth rings. There were 185. If there were experienced fallers in the crowd they would surely have been impressed.
The LIFE invitation brochure states, "LIFEship will travel the outdoor classrooms of the ocean world, teaching people about ecology, sustainability, and leadership ... Her maiden voyage in the year 2001 will inaugurate a series of year-round programs in the coastal waters of British Columbia and abroad."
The ship will carry the enthusiasm of Canada's youth well into the third millennium and will be their legacy. She will also, in no small part, be Merv Wilkinson's legacy.
The next event at Wildwood will be Sept. 27, 1999 in association with the Forests For The Future conference. To attend the conference, or only the Wildwood event, please call Jay at (250)722-0099, or write firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the Ecoforestry Institute webpage: www.ecoforestry.ca
* This article sponsored by the Friends of Cortes Island Watershed Sentinel Development Fund and Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Death Sentence for Greenwich Park
We all love to walk on the wild side, but boardwalks and parking are no way to save a fragment of wild beach dune for the creatures of PEI
by Sharon Labchuk
When the dunes at Greenwich, PEI were declared a national park last year, most people figured this relatively unspoiled natural area would finally be safe from developers. They were forgetting one thing though - politicians. Lawrence MacAulay, Canada's solicitor general and Liberal MP for the Greenwich area, has re-election on his mind. He's not going to let rare plants or the endangered piping plover get in his way.
Not one for modesty, he's bragged publicly about his major role in "convincing" Minister of Canadian Heritage Sheila Copps to designate this fragile ecosystem a national park. He further consolidated his political position in his economically depressed riding by announcing a federal $1.3 million 'development plan' for the park. The development will help attract more than 100,000 tourists this summer to trample this unique ecosystem to death. Even more tourists are expected in succeeding years as the park becomes more developed and better advertised.
MacAulay spouts the usual political rhetoric about "respecting and honouring the fragility and integrity of this beautiful place" but the man has little ecological sentiment. Out of the other side of his mouth he calls Greenwich, an area Parks Canada says has natural features not found anywhere else in the world, a 'project' and a 'resource.'
"This project is an excellent example of how federal investment will lead to social and economic opportunities," he says. Parks Canada on PEI, charged with protecting Greenwich, seems equally ignorant of the critical need for ecosystem protection over economic and recreational opportunities for humans.
Dave Lipton, Parks Canada's head bureaucrat on PEI, refers to national parks as 'products' his department markets. Last fall he directed the construction of a trail through sensitive sand dunes and over top of 4 recognized archeological sites without first conducting an environmental screening, clearly contravening the province's Archeological Sites Protection Act and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency regulations. The trail was hurriedly built and the screening process initiated only later, in order to access federal government funding available at the time. The trail construction created about 12 short-term jobs.
A walk on the trail reveals the damage caused by hasty planning and lack of expert advice. Built as close to the bank's edge as possible, parts of the trail are already collapsing over the side and onto the beach below. Pottery shards, brought to the surface during trail excavation, are clearly visible in the archeological sites. Pesticide-soaked lumber, used for the boardwalk section, now leaches its toxic load onto the sand dunes.
Parks Canada on PEI has no ecologist on staff, so MacAulay's economic development schemes for the area have been allowed to dominate. And while a biological survey of Greenwich has been contracted out by Parks Canada, it cannot be completed in time to influence scheduled major development this spring. Besides harm already caused by trail construction, Parks Canada has cut a 10 foot wide swath through the forested edges of the park, claiming this is standard procedure in all national parks. The swath will be kept denuded for all time to delineate park boundaries.
Three separate parcels of land, with privately owned property between, make up the tiny park on the Greenwich Peninsula. Development plans for the smallest parcel, which is not much more than a strip of dunes along the shore and a bit of field, include an access road for beach-goers and a parking lot for 90 cars and 10 buses "with room for expansion." Tourists frolicking on this beach will find all the amenities here - toilets, showers, hot dog stands, the works.
This land, previously only accessible by a long tiring hike up and down sand dunes, will soon be easy to reach by simply driving up the proposed access road and strolling along the beach. Parks Canada intends to penetrate this area with boardwalks. There's even a bizarre plan to allow recreational fishing boats on the little pond situated in the midst of this massive dune system.
On most fine summer days, one would be lucky to encounter a half-dozen people in this dramatic and biologically diverse natural area, although all-terrain vehicles were a problem. Now throngs of unrestricted and unsupervised tourists will be given free rein to go anywhere in the park, for Parks Canada has no plan in place to make people stay on the boardwalks. We know from the sorry mess at the national park in Cavendish that, free to roam, it's impossible to keep people from climbing and destroying fragile dunes.
A 'special planning area' outside park boundaries has been established by the Province. Development in this zone will sever the park ecosystem from the surrounding countryside. Already a developer who owns 400 acres near the park, is planning a four star hotel and golf course complex.
MacAulay and others see Greenwich as a cash cow to be milked for all it's worth. But some people are horrified that one of PEI's scarce natural areas has been reduced to a commodity and will soon swarm with tourists.
According to the most basic ecological criteria, the planet is overpopulated today with 6 billion humans, and our population may double in the next century before it levels out. Highly regarded conservation biologists say at least 50% of the Earth must remain wild, free from human interference, to protect biodiversity and avoid mass extinctions. These wild areas, they say, must be interconnected with corridors to allow for genetic exchange between populations and surrounded by buffer zones where only limited human activity is permitted.
An estimated 150 species per day are eliminated by human activity. Many species of plants and animals, once teeming in Atlantic Canada, have had their populations decimated. PEI has the most intensively 'managed' landscape of all provinces and various native animals, like bear, lynx, pine martin and woodland caribou have long since disappeared because of hunting, trapping and forest destruction. Are we not generous enough to leave wild places on this island to accommodate the needs of other species?
We urgently need to "rewild" large sections of PEI, not only because humans are part of Nature and we ultimately depend upon its integrity and health for our survival. But because humans have no right to reduce the diversity of life on Earth except to satisfy vital needs, and because other species have the right to exist irrespective of their usefulness to humans.
Let Greenwich signal a new appreciation for Nature conservation on PEI. Human intrusion into this national park needs to be limited to strictly controlled guided tours to only the least sensitive areas. The Island has miles of shoreline already servicing the recreational needs of tourists. Leave the Greenwich dunes to the endangered piping plovers and other wild things.
|IF YOU CARE about conserving wildlands, and if the biological meltdown now in progress brings you to tears, infuriates you, or otherwise makes you feel like taking action, now is the time. Help defend Greenwich from development. When tourists arrive this summer, development will be well underway. Letters to all politicians below can be sent postage-free to: House of Commons, Ottawa. Letters to the editor are effective.|
* Contact Earth Action to find out how else you can help: Earth Action, 81 Prince St., Charlottetown, PEI C1A 4R3; fax: (902)621-0719; email@example.com
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Artwork Trude Albright-Sweeny, Lisa Gibbons, Robyn Budd
Cover Photo Don Malcolm
Special Thanks to Lisa Matthaus, Mike Wallace, Susan Yates, Alice Grange, Miranda Holmes, Jay Ritchlin, Pam Sholty, Adrian Raeside, the writers, advertisers, distributors, and all who send information. This magazine would not happen without you.
Distribution by news stand sale, by subscription and to members of Friends of Cortes Island, free at Vancouver Island Regional Libraries, and through Doormouse Distributors.
Member British Columbia Association of Magazine Publishers
Reach for Unbleached! started in 1991 as a grass roots organization in British Columbia, Canada in response to fishing closures due to dioxin contamination from chlorine-bleaching kraft pulp mills. We are now a national foundation, and a Canadian registered charity with a focus on consumer education and pulp mill monitoring.
Each issue, every two months, the Watershed Sentinel brings the news to well over four thousand readers. Many copies are distributed free, at health shows, conferences, local environmental offices, and starting with this issue, to First Nations and trade union locals who want to receive this news. Unfortunately, not every one who reads the magazine is a paid subscriber, but fortunately, our Sustaining Subscribers and Patrons pick up that extra load, helping with the phone bills, the printing bills, the postage.
Become a Watershed Sentinel Sustaining Subscriber
$50 for 1 year. As space permits, and if desired, we publish the names of Sustaining Subscribers, and we send two copies of each issue, one for you, one for a friend.
|Alberni Environmental Coalition, Port Alberni BC
All-About-Us Foundation, Ladysmith BC
Ted Anderson, Port Alberni BC
Arne Baartz, Lasqueti Island BC
Richard Betts, Burnaby BC
Andrea Block, Manson's Landing BC
Charles Burnett, Victoria BC
Les & Joan Cartwright, Courtenay BC
Richard & Sandi Chamberlain, Manson's Landing BC
Grey Chase, Victoria BC
Community Fish Development Centre, Surrey BC
Jan Crunican, Bezanson AB
Marna Disbrow, Heriot Bay BC
Fletcher Challenge Canada, Elk Falls, Campbell River BC
Environmental Mining Council of BC, Victoria BC
Fish for Life Foundation, Vancouver BC
P.A. Falvo, Toronto ON
Sue Frazer, Port Alberni BC
Ralph Garrison, Manson's Landing BC
Elaine Golds, Port Moody BC
Donna & Richard Gross, Sointula BC
Nancy Harris-Campbell, San Francisco CA
George Hart, Queen Charlotte City BC
Wendy & Hubert Havelaar, Whaletown BC
Willem J. Havelaar, Denman Island BC
Bill Henderson, Gibsons BC
Kristen/Alex Hollier/Riesterer, Manson's Landing BC
Alan & Barb Hourston, Nanaimo BC
Kathy Johannesson, Sooke BC
KEEPS, Kyuquot, BC
Robyn Budd & Erika Kellerhals, Heriot Bay BC
Oliver/Ruth Kellhammer/Ozeki, Whaletown BC
|Paula Khan, Victoria BC
Yvonne Kipp, Manson's Landing BC
Langara Students Union, Vancouver BC
Sylvain Lieutaghi, Victoria BC
Hannah & Robert Main, Victoria BC
Jim Murphy, Squirrel Cove BC
Reid & Sakiko Neufer, Kobe Japan
Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Port Alberni BC
Stefan Ochman, Bamfield BC
Maggie Paquet, Port Alberni BC
William S. Paterson, Vancouver BC
Jo Phillips, Sooke BC
Chris R. Picard, Vancouver BC
Joe Prochaska, Nashville TN
Shivon & Bill Robinsong/Weaver, Victoria, BC
Michael Rooksby, Victoria BC
Martin Rossander, Powell River BC
John Rosser, Sointula BC
Barbara Scott, Victoria BC
Paul Senez, Victoria BC
Skies Above Foundation, Victoria BC
Sprague Assoc. Ltd., Salt Spring Island BC
Troubadour Records, Vancouver BC
T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, Vancouver BC
Lesley Taylor, Richmond BC
Wayne Bright & Alison Toplay, Lasqueti Island BC
Bill Turner, Victoria BC
Cordula Vogt, Saltspring Island BC
Wildwood, Ladysmith BC
Masako & John William, Manson's Landing BC
Susan-Marie Yoshihara, Denman Island BC
And Those Who Wish To Remain Anonymous
Watershed Sentinel Patrons
Did you know that Friends of Cortes Island has supported the Watershed Sentinel since its beginning in 1992? In fact, FOCI was the original publisher of the magazine and continues its support to this day.
These days, the Friends of Cortes Island Watershed Sentinel Development Fund helps the magazine with the costs of special features about sustainability issues around the Georgia Strait. Donations over $50 to the Fund are tax deductible.
FOCI and the Sentinel wish to thank the following Patrons of the Watershed Sentinel:
Louis & Vera Broten, Edmonton AB
Susan Brown, Lillooet BC
Hal & Martha Chase, Paso Robles CA
Endswell Foundation, Vancouver BC
Colin Graham, Sidney BC
Alison Graves, Nanaimo BC
Dave & Ann Hiatt, Whaletown BC
Hollyhock, Manson's Landing, BC
Harry & Shirley Holmes-Holman,
Denman Is. BC
Peter & Sue Johnston/Wheeler,
Lasqueti Island BC
Robin Keller, Whaletown BC
Renate & John Kroesa/Dafoe, Sechelt BC
Judith Lawrence, Hornby Island BC
Paul MacGillivray, Delta BC
Mountain Equipment Co-op
Libba & Gifford Pinchot,
Nina Raginsky, Saltspring Island BC
Dr. Joe Rea, ON
Jill & Basil Seaton, Jasper AB
Joel Solomon, Nashville TN
Strait Coffee, Sechelt BC
Roger Sweeny, West Vancouver BC
Charlie Vaughan, Black Creek BC
And Those Who Wish to Remain Anonymous.
Patrons of the Watershed Sentinel donate $100 or more to the
Friends of Cortes Island Watershed Sentinel Development Fund,
thereby enabling us to make a better magazine for our readers.
Donations are tax deductible.