Photo: recent clearcut near Rabbit Lake,  summer 2001

Recent cut area near Rabbit Lake,  summer 2001. 

Photo: David Savelli

JUNE 7, 2002

Illegal clear-cutting in Temagami

Illegal clear-cutting is rampant, say environment groups. Ontario's Environment Commissioner has been asked by two environment groups to investigate.

Sierra Legal Defence Fund and Earthroots cite a 1994 Environmental Assessment Board order prohibiting clear-cuts larger than 260 hectares. Despite the legally-binding order on MNR, the total clear-cuts above this size in Temagami is 5,141 hectares - an area larger than 8,500 football fields.

The groups, in fact, found that the rule was flouted all across Ontario and are calling for a province-wide investigation. "The 260 hectare limit on clear-cuts is supposed to be the rule, not the exception," says Sierra Legal Staff Scientist Kim Mandzy.

Minister of Natural Resources Jerry Ouellette, responding to the groups' charges, said on CBC Radio, I cant see why every time a group or an organization has some major concerns about a process that has been established and people are in compliance with that process, why we should review it." 

Between May 1988 and November 1992, there were 411 hearing days and 70,000 pages of transcripts produced in an environmental assessment. That process ordered MNR to limit the size of clear-cuts. "One of the biggest processes of all time and MNR isn't in compliance with it, but doesn't want to investigate?" says Richard Brooks of Earthroots in response to the minister's comment. "It seems there is a double standard here."

In the same CBC story, the minister said he was disappointed the groups did not contact him first before requesting a formal investigation. "We have been communicating with his office for four years on this issue," says Brooks. "I have the files of correspondence to prove it. First double standards, now double talk."

1997 MNR pleads guilty in court to illegally permitting the 1996 construction of Cross Lake access. Case brought by Temagami Lakes Association and Sierra Legal Defence Fund (SLDF) to Ministry of Environment (MOE) 
1998  Court unanimously orders forest-management plans for Temagami and Elk Lake to be re-done over a litany of violations. Suit brought by Friends of Temagami, Wildlands League and SLDF
2001   Minister of Environment orders logging moratorium on 4,000 hectares of clear-cuts that violate forest-management rules. Case brought by Earthroots to MOE

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