Protecting The Far North
McGuinty Government Provides New Leadership Role for First Nations
Ontario is taking an important step toward the permanent protection of at least half of the Far North of Ontario, an area three times the size of Lake Superior.
Under legislation to be introduced later today, the province is proposing to:
- Enable a community-based land use planning process allowing Far North First Nations and Ontario to determine areas to be protected and identify areas for economic development that benefit First Nations communities and consider ecological and cultural values.
- Conserve essential habitat for more than 200 sensitive species, including woodland caribou and Ontario's only populations of polar bears and snow geese, through a network of conservation lands.
- Fight climate change by ensuring the vast Far North boreal landscape keeps its capacity to act as a giant carbon sink - the largest of its kind in North America.
The proposed legislation is the result of more than nine months of cooperation and dialogue among the province, First Nations, resource industries, scientists and environmental groups. The planning process to protect Ontario's boreal region, and strike the right balance between conservation and development, will continue in partnership with Ontarians. The ministry will offer further opportunities for consultation over the summer through a province wide tour, including the Far North. As well, the public is invited to comment through a posting on the Environmental Registry.
- The Far North makes up 42 per cent of the province's land mass. The proposed legislation will protect at least 225,000 square kilometres of the Far North in a network of conservation areas.
- The trees, soil and peat of the vast Far North landscape act as a globally significant carbon sink by absorbing approximately 12.5 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere each year.
- To date, the province has successfully negotiated 13 Memorandums of Understanding around land use planning with First Nations in the Far North.
“This legislation would contribute to a sustainable and more prosperous future for the people and communities of the Far North, and provide important and far-reaching environmental and economic benefits for our province as a whole.”