Clearcuts from Space: What's wrong with this picture?
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This is a photo taken by LandSat 7, one of the newest earth observation satellites. The scene is the Doré and Smoothstone Lakes wilderness area northwest of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. See all those little spots beween Doré and Smoothstone Lakes? Those are clearcut areas within the Weyerhaeuser Forest Management Agreement (FMA) area. Click here for a location map to help you see where this is.
The Weyerhaeuser FMA is currently under review as a new 20 Year Management Plan has been released along with an Environmental Impact Assessment. Those documents will shape the future of the forest you see in these satellite images. On the ground it means a continuation of the management practices this company has employed over the past 15 years in Saskatchewan that have lead to the picture at the left.
It looks even worse closer up. Here's a photo taken from about 1500 feet up looking east towards Smoothstone Lake. You can see Shelter Island and Selenite Point across the lake in the background.
What this shows is a series of large clear cut areas with a well-developed permanent road system. Weyerhaeuser says it develops its harvest areas on a "natural disturbance model". That should mean cut over areas with ragged boundaries, and natural islands of trees left for wildlife.
Can you imagine being one of the animals that lived here before the harvesting? Can you imagine anything living there now?
Does this look natural to you? Does it look like it was done by a company that cares about your forest environment?
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So, what's the big deal?
There are a whole lot of deals. They are deals that have been worked out in secret between Weyerhaeuser and the Saskatchewan government. Deals now containted in the Weyerhaeuser 20 Year Forest Management Plan. Deals that will be approved on October 23, unless someone speaks up. Unless you speak up.
Here's what the new Weyerhaeuser deal will mean for you:
"...no logical grounds exist for accepting the plan."
- Weyerhaeuser is planning to triple its harvest of trees. Imagine what the LandSat pictures are going to look like in a few more years.
- Weyerhaeuser controls an area larger than Switzerland in Saskatchewan. The map at the right is from a Global Forest Watch report and shows all the companies with licence areas larger than Switzerland.
- Weyerhaeuser is harvesting in an unsustainable manner. The government's outside experts, hired at great expense from across Canada have said: " Clearly, if the allowable cut is to be both sustained and used in the future, this [current harvesting practices...ed.] can not continue." See the full text by clicking here.
- Weyerhaeuser and the Province are not planning any public consultation on this major change and impact on the health of our forests. If you don't say something now, it will be too late.
- Weyerhaeuser has refused to give us back any land to preserve wilderness areas. They claim their contract gives them perpetual rights to our land. They have refused to cooperate in creating adequate wilderness protected areas to preserve natural landscape features and wildlife habitat.
That's not our quote. It is a quote straight from the provincial expert's review of the Weyerhaeuser 20 Year Management Plan. These are the best minds in forestry from across Canada, paid at great expense by your government to review this plan. And now the same government is asking us for approval of this fatally flawed plan.
What Can We Do About It?
What can you do? Write a letter to the premier, or fax or e-mail him. Write or call the offices of the ministers responsible. Call or write your local MLA. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Contact Weyerhaeuser Canada, the company responsible for this exploitation and destruction. Do it now before it’s too late. Click HERE to go to a page where you can register your dissatisfaction, or get more information.
Are We Anti-Forestry?
No! We don't object to forestry. We write on paper, and knock on wood. We understand the need for forest products and the jobs they bring. But we want this done in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
We object to bad forestry. We object to tripling the harvest without adequate inventory information. We object to secret deals for areas of our province larger than the country of Switzerland. We object to high grading the forest to take only the most profitable trees. We object to losing all our wilderness areas. We object to being ignored.
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