CARIBOU: Scientists refute forest industry claims

By Julee Boan

First Published in the Chronicle Journal Nov 27, 2017

In an era of “alt facts,” perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised with the content on the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) new website, “cariboufacts.” It was designed to “inform” forest industry workers of the current state of caribou science and motivate them to write letters to the federal government to protect their interests. Their argument? Recovery planning for boreal caribou is moving ahead without enough information.

While it isn’t clear if the website caught the attention of forest industry workers, it certainly caught the attention of scientists. In a fairly unprecedented move, some of the most prominent caribou scientists in Canada submitted a point-by-point rebuttal of FPAC’s website. While it now appears FPAC has since made changes to their website (the sufficiency of which have yet to be determined), the damage is already done. Forestry workers who submitted letters to government did so with misleading, and in some cases, incorrect information.

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Forests For All, Forever

First published in the Chronicle Journal Wed April 20, 2016

Julee Boan

Debate over the use of Ontario’s forests has intensified in recent years. At the heart of the matter: how do we determine which activities are sustainable, and which are not? How much risk is too much risk? And most importantly, who should decide?
Even in a democratic society, such as Canada, expectations for determining whether forestry activities are sustainable go beyond mere compliance with federal and provincial laws. They also go beyond assertions of sustainability from companies themselves or their industry associations.

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At stake: Everything; Walking the Paris climate talks

First Posted: Saturday, December 19, 2015 in The Chronicle-Journal
THE VIEW FROM PARIS

By Julee Boan

With nearly 200 countries at the table, is it not surprising that the Paris climate agreement that was negotiated last Saturday fell short of legally-binding caps on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Differences in wealth, geography, and population size were but a few of the complexities facing the talks. It was abundantly evident before the negotiations even began that economic (and carbon) powerhouses like the United States and China would only agree to non-binding targets.
Yet, the significance of the agreement is unmistakable. The signatories recognize that, “climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet.”

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Is NOMA ignoring democratic values?

By Julee Boan and Scott Harris
We have concern regarding the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association’s (NOMA) recent resolution, passed with support from Thunder Bay, calling on a number of environmental organizations to “cease and desist” their forestry “campaigns.”
While Environment North is not specifically mentioned, we are also a registered charitable organization. Since 1972, we have strived to improve and protect the ecological sustainability and socio-economic wellbeing of Northwestern Ontario through leadership, research, partnerships, education, community advocacy, information and community capacity building.
At times, we have called for changes to forestry practices and policy, including voicing questions and concerns when the province exempted the forest industry from the Endangered Species Act. We also voiced support for forest tenure reform to increase local decision making, and the expansion of Wabakimi Provincial Park, among other issues.

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Mayors back bullies

BY JULEE BOAN

First published in The Chronicle Journal Monday March 3, 2014

In 2010, two municipal councillors from Thornhill, Ont., advocating for the protection of prime farmland in their community were sued by a developer who accused them of trespassing on his land. The developer seemingly forgot that he had leased the land back to a local farmer who had given the councillors permission to hold a news conference on the side of the road at the farm.

The lawsuit was, of course, dismissed as nonsense by the courts. But it took two years and substantial lawyers’ fees to resolve. In response, one of the councillors said, “To us, this looks like an attempt at intimidation and bullying … In my opinion, this is a SLAPP suit.”

A SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) is a lawsuit initiated against one or more individuals who speak out on an issue of public interest.

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Ring of Fire needs ecosystem planning

First Published in the Sudbury Star May, 2011

Julee Boan and Justin Duncan

The Ring of Fire represents a huge economic opportunity for Ontario. But more surprisingly, it also represents a big environmental opportunity.

As perhaps one of the world’s most valuable chromite deposits, the area represents a chance to open up a whole new field for the Canadian mining industry. With global demand for minerals soaring, there’s a tremendous opportunity in the Ring of Fire to create new jobs and economic opportunities after some hard years in Northern Ontario.

The environmental opportunity is less well-known. Ring of Fire is located in the heart of one of the largest remaining intact ecosystems left on the planet. That’s a pretty astounding statement and sounds like something you would more likely hear about the Amazon.

But careful mapping of the world’s intact forests has zeroed in on the boreal forests and lowlands of Ontario’s far North as one of our last chances to protect a natural system where all the pieces are still in place and working; from wolves and caribou to millions of nesting birds and lakes jumping with fish.

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