John Bacher's blog
So far unreported in the press, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has been under assault by the Ford government. This situation is especially tragic given the historic significance of its role in environmental protection. The MNRF has evolved to become the guardian of bio-diversity in Ontario.
Evolving out of the Department of Lands and Forests, MNRF, has been characterized by its conservationist use of science. The department’s work evolved from its Forest Protection Branch created in 1911 by the then-Chief Forester of Ontario, Edmund Zavitz.
Photo: Oka memorial (Quebec). Many of the Mohawks buried here are from families involved in the planting of the forest which took place between 1880 and 1920. Since for most of this period there were no tree nurseries geared to reforestation, the Mohawks had to gather pine seedlings from considerable distance to the north in canoes from forests where white pines still grew. Photo credit MaryLou Jorgensen-Bacher.
Today Niagara Region serves as a carbon sink thanks to its extensive wetlands south of the Niagara Escarpment. While over 90% of Southern Ontario’s wetlands have been drained, the degradation has not hit southern Niagara, where only 10% have been lost. These wetlands, mostly forested except the 1,500 hectare Wainfleet Bog, contribute to the cooling of our traumatically overheating earth.
Two major environmental victories have taken place recently, derailing important parts of the war on the environment. Both victories saved programs to plant trees. Trees are critical to rescuing Lake Erie from massive algae blooms brought on by the twin evils of deforestation and phosphorus pollution.
When the Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca, announced the termination of an environmental assessment for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) West Corridor in December of 2015, those who cherish the earth in Ontario gave a great sigh of relief. The proposed 50 kilometer-long expressway planned to slash through entirely environmental and agricultural zones, much of which is protected by the Greenbelt. The plan was a salt tipped dagger on Lake Ontario.
May 7, 2019
Reforestation and conservation cuts will only increase flooding and other environmental problems in an age when these problems are being amplified by climate change. We need to learn from past environmental mistakes if we wish to avoid repeating them.