Protecting the Far North



    McGuinty Government Provides New Leadership Role for First Nations

    TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ -

    NEWS

    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.

    QUOTE

    "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."
    - Donna Cansfield, Minister of Natural Resources

    
    QUICK FACTS

    -   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    
(http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/FarNorth/2ColumnSubPage/266506.html)
        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.

    LEARN MORE

    -   About the Far North of Ontario (http://www.ontario.ca/farnorth).
    -   About the proposed Far North Act at the Environmental Registry,
        Registry Number (http://ontario.ca/environmentalregistry) 010-6624.
    -   About the future direction
        (http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Newsroom/LatestNews/273241.html) for the
        Far North.
    -   About support
        (http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Newsroom/LatestNews/273242.html) for the
        proposed Far North Act.

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                                           ontario.ca/natural-resources-news
                                                      Disponible en français


    BACKGROUNDER
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

               FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR THE FAR NORTH OF ONTARIO

    The Ministry of Natural Resources is working with Nishnawbe Aski Nation
and Far North First Nations to develop a community-based land use planning
process that will establish a network of conservation lands across the Far
North totalling at least 225,000 square kilometres. Land use planning will
also identify where sustainable economic development in the Far North may take
place.

    Progress to date includes:

    -   Ontario and Nishnawbe Aski Nation have been working together to
        develop principles and processes that will guide land use planning
        across the region. Land use planning will recognize the unique
        ecological and cultural features of the Far North while allowing for
        areas of sustainable economic development that benefit First Nations
        communities.

    -   Individual First Nations communities are taking the lead while
        working jointly with the ministry to develop community-based land use
        plans for their local areas. The incorporation of traditional
        Aboriginal knowledge will be an important component of these plans.
        At present, six communities are in advanced stages of planning: Cat
        Lake/Slate Falls, Eabametoong/Mishkeegogamang, Moose Cree and
        Constance Lake. Ten others have initiated discussions with the
        ministry.

    -   The provincial government has committed $30 million over four years
        (2008 to 2012) to support consultations and engagement and other key
        components of the Far North Planning Initiative including science and
        information, sustainable land use planning and resource management in
        the Far North.

    -   The Ministry of Natural Resources has so far allocated $3 million in
        funding to Nishnawbe Aski Nation and Far North First Nations for
        community engagement, mapping of traditional land uses and collection
        of traditional Aboriginal knowledge, and to help communities build
        land-use planning capacity.

    -   The Far North Advisory Council, made up of representatives from
        resource industries and environmental groups, provided input to the
        Minister of Natural Resources concerning land use planning,
        conservation, resource management and development.

    -   The Far North Science Panel, made up of scientists from within and
        outside government, is providing input on a broad range of issues
        related to ecosystem management, resource development, carbon
        sequestration, areas of protection, and improving understanding of
        threats to the natural values of the Far North and ways to mitigate
        those threats.

    -   The ministry will continue to seek input from First Nations, northern
        municipalities, resource industries, environmental groups and the
        general public.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dianne Corbett, Far North,            ontario.ca/natural-resources-news
    705-235-1284                                     Disponible en français



    BACKGROUNDER
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      SUPPORT FOR FAR NORTH LEGISLATION
    

    "The Chiefs that I represent support community-based land use planning.
We will continue to work with the MNR in a partnership approach. We need to
develop a process to resource this important project."

    - Frank McKay, Council Chair, Windigo First Nations Council

    "We want to continue with our community-based land use planning process.
It balances traditional uses and knowledge of the land with new economic
opportunities for our youth, while protecting the land."

    - Glen Whiskeyjack, Chief, New Slate Falls First Nation

    "Pikangikum First Nation led the dialogue in a community-based planning
process for the Whitefeather Forest in partnership with the Government of
Ontario. In 2006, we were pleased to jointly approve the "Keeping the Land"
community-based land use strategy with MNR. Community-based planning is a new
way for us to work together with the MNR. Pikangikum is now at a stage of
achieving a new forestry opportunity and a partnership in protected area
planning. Our partnership is being guided by our Elders and their knowledge."

    - Gordon Peters, Chief, Pikangikum First Nation

    "The work everyone is doing on the Far North makes it a globally
significant project. We have to get this right. The Far North Science Panel is
looking to First Nation communities to contribute to the science together so
that in 20 years time we are proud of the economic development progress and
conservation principles put into practice."

    - Dr. David Pearson, Department of Earth Sciences, Laurentian University
and Chair of the Far North Science Panel

    "WWF strongly supports the Premier's Far North vision of protecting at
least 50 per cent of Ontario's globally important boreal region, coupled with
new economic prosperity for the people who live there-all led by community
land use planning."

    - Monte Hummel, President Emeritus, WWF-Canada

    "We welcome the introduction of this new bill as an important step
towards achieving a sustainable future in the northern Boreal region. Finding
a balance has never been more important, and the Ontario government is
demonstrating real leadership in bringing forward legislation to achieve that
goal. We look forward to supporting Ontario and First Nations governments as
they design and implement a planning process that will give communities the
ability to determine how the imperatives of environmental protection and
economic prosperity will happen in the Far North."

    - Larry Innes, Executive Director, Canadian Boreal Initiative

    "On behalf of Ontario Mining Association members, we favour an open and
transparent approach in which information is shared. Adding greater certainty
to the process in a timely fashion assists in business related and investment
and employment decisions. We look forward to working with Minister Cansfield
and her staff to help advance the Far North land use planning process.

    - Chris Hodgson, President, Ontario Mining Association

    "Today's legislation promises to protect more than 50 billion of tonnes
of carbon in the Boreal, delivered through planning led by First Nations. This
is the first time in Canada, and quite possibly the world, where a government
is creating a law that protects carbon as one of the outcomes. It is
astonishing that the very communities most affected by climate change may be
sitting on the Fort Knox of carbon for the world. That's why we must invest in
First Nations planning not only for their prosperity; but as if our life
depended on it, because it does."

    - Janet Sumner, Executive Director, Wildlands League

    "We have worked with the MNR to address our industries' needs and
concerns of the Far North Initiative. We are optimistic that the collection of
geological data and other types of science data, needed for this project to be
successful, will assist the explorers and developers of the Far North's
mineral wealth."

    - Garry Clark, Executive Director, Ontario Prospectors Association

    "The Far North holds significant renewable energy potential and
opportunities for Aboriginal community prosperity. This legislation should
help enable the realization of these complementary objectives."

    - Paul Norris, President, Ontario Waterpower Association

    "Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association supports land use
planning in the Far North - the process ensures intelligent development and
intelligent protection. It is vital to the success that communities themselves
be full participants in community-based land use planning."

    - Doug Reynolds, Executive Director, Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters
Association

    "The wetlands and coastal habitats of Northern Ontario provide critical
breeding habitat for thousands of North America's waterfowl while the area's
extensive peat lands store vast amounts of carbon, and provide other critical
ecosystem services. Taking steps now to support the needs of local communities
and protect the ecological integrity of these globally significant landscapes
demonstrates a strong commitment to future generations of wildlife and
people."

    - Jamie Fortune, Director of Regional Operations, Ducks Unlimited Canada

    
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    Ivan Langrish, Minister's Office,      ontario.ca/natural-resources-news
    416-314-2212                                      Disponible en français
    Media Desk, Communications Services
    Branch, 416-314-2106
    





For further information:

For further information: Ivan Langrish, Minister's Office, (416)
314-2212; Media Desk, Communications Services Branch, (416) 314-2106

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