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Far north at risk unless Ontario adopts new, inclusive planning process: Report
Date:6/19/2014

THUNDER BAY June 19, 2014 With the Ontario government poised to spend $1 billion to promote development in the Ring of Fire, a new paper from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada and Ecojustice identifies risks inherent in the current planning legislation and provides a solution.

Ontario's Far North is the world's largest ecologically intact area of boreal forest. It contains North America's largest wetlands, is home to a number of at-risk species, including caribou and lake sturgeon, and is a one of the world's critical storehouses of carbon. First Nations depend on these systems for food and medicines, sustenance of culture and spiritual values, their livelihoods, and rights. At the same time, the remote region contains potential world-class deposits of minerals that offer economic opportunities.

"Getting it Right in Ontario's Far North: The Need for Strategic Environmental Assessment in the Ring of Fire (Wawangajing)" points out that the current planning approaches in the Far North are piecemeal and narrowly focused on specific projects, or pieces of projects. Because of this, cumulative ecological and social effects, planning for regional infrastructure (roads, transmission lines, and railroads), and regional coordination, are not properly considered.

In identifying risks associated with the current planning approach, the authors noted that:

  • There is no overall plan for this region beyond building a road;

  • Current planning and approval processes are piecemeal and do not address cumulative effects anticipated with mines and all-weather infrastructure traversing biologically intact and globally significant regions; and,

  • First Nations also must be decision-makers in the process or any development will be mired in delays and conflict.

The groups suggest that the path forward on Ring of Fire development must include a Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment (R-SEA)
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Contact: Scott Smith
ssmith@wcs.org
718-220-3698
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert

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