Ontario puts ecosystems and climate in jeopardy by encouraging burning forests for energy

    Group says approach to biofibre is inconsistent with climate change

    TORONTO, Jan. 21 /CNW/ - Today, CPAWS Wildlands League expresses deep
concerns regarding the province's latest approach to biofibre projects.
Recently the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) and Ontario Power
Generation released a request for expressions of interest for biofibre project
proposals. CPAWS Wildlands League, a provincial conservation group, says the
approach is ill conceived and its implementation could further threaten the
sustainability of our forests and the stability of our climate.
    "It is irresponsible for the Ontario Government to pursue a questionable
economic policy that may pour fuel on the bonfire of climate change", said
Janet Sumner, Executive Director of CPAWS Wildlands League. "Bio energy is
being touted as a carbon neutral energy source but may actually vacuum up
forests and burn them. What we really need is natural carbon storage in
growing and maturing forests and soil," Sumner adds.
    Further, the group warns that energy for transportation and processing
biofibre may offset any gains from the plan and notes that taxpayers may end
up subsidizing an industry to mine our forests of essential nutrients and
habitat. "Ontario must not put our climate and forests in jeopardy while
hiding behind a very real global economic crisis to do so," stated Sumner.
    Biofibre refers to trees that are converted into wood pellets burned to
generate electricity. These trees would largely come from logging 'waste' and
'non commercial' trees. OMNR promotes this as a bonafide green alternative to
other forms of energy production and a way to save the foundering forest
economy. Wildlands League is highly sceptical of both claims.
    "In the natural world, there is no such thing as waste", Trevor
Hesselink, Wildlands League's Forest Program Director explains. "Dead wood
provides essential ecosystem functions like carbon storage, nutrient
recycling, seedbeds and habitat for everything from salamanders to marten.
Ontario's logging practices create 'waste' because most logging skids whole
trees to roadside where the logs are trucked away and the branches and tops
left in mounds where they do little for forest function."
    Wildlands League suspects removing slash and commercially undesirable
species may be the thin edge of the axe. Biofibre harvesting would encourage
even more full-tree logging, and it may exert pressure to harvest trees at
younger ages. "Right now, cutting trees at 100 years is putting pressure on
wildlife that needs mature forests. What if we start harvesting every 40 or
even 20 years for biofibre?" questions Hesselink. "As it is, OMNR has little
capacity to oversee current practices. It is irresponsible to promote
additional harvesting pressure that indiscriminate biofibre utilization would

For further information:

For further information: Janet Sumner, Executive Director, CPAWS
Wildlands League, (416) 971-9453 ext 39, (416) 579-7370 cell

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