Big Ecosystem Thinking Required in the Boreal Forest, expert panel says

    TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ - Experts from across Canada gathered at the
University of Toronto last night to discuss new approaches to protecting
ecosystems in Ontario's Northern Boreal Forest especially in light of
dangerous climate change. The panel, moderated by Environmental Commissioner
Gord Miller, challenged the audience to think about how Ontario could plan for
Boreal ecosystems while at the same time respecting Aboriginal peoples and
building new opportunities for economic prosperity.
    "Planning in the Boreal Forest has to start with big landscapes. The
bigger the better," said Herb Hammond, award winning author and forest
ecologist. "The more you know about forests, the more you realize you don't
know," Hammond cautioned. And that is why we have to be precautionary in our
approach, he said.
    The event was part of a nation-wide launch of Hammond's newest book
called maintaining Whole Systems on Earth's Crown: Ecosystem-based
Conservation Planning for the Boreal Forest. Hammond clarified ecosystem-based
planning is not the same as land use planning, it subsumes land use planning.
"Economics are part of cultures and cultures are part of ecosystems," he
    Last night's discussion comes at a pivotal moment: the Ontario government
is currently drafting legislation that will determine how planning will be
done in the Far North in partnership with Aboriginal peoples. This legislation
will ultimately impact the health and prosperity of communities in the north,
as well as the health our northern forests, peatlands, lakes and rivers.
    "There is an ocean of carbon in the Boreal soils," said Dr. Jeremy Kerr,
Professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa and a member of the
International Boreal Conservation Science Panel. "We need to think seriously
about this part of the world and its value as a carbon bank," he added. Dr.
Kerr also recommended a "strong, durable presence of science in the planning
process as the policy unfolds," for the Far North.
    The audience included scientists, academics, policy-makers, environmental
groups and members of the public.

For further information:

For further information: Lee-Ann Unger, (604) 607-5421 or

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