Gord Miller, Ontario’s environmental commissioner, says the government should commit to ending logging in Algonquin too.
“Algonquin is Ontario’s oldest provincial park and it’s high time that we brought it in line with modern values,” says Miller.
“Right now, it does not even qualify as a protected area under international standards.”
"Much has changed since the park’s early days. Today, the park is more than twice its original size, covering over 7,600 square kilometres." - Gord Miller
Miller released his 2013/14 annual report on Oct. 7. According to the report, Algonquin Park was established in 1893 as a public park, forest reservation, fish and game preserve, and “health resort and pleasure ground” for the people of Ontario. “As the oldest provincial park in Ontario, the early administration of Algonquin Park differed greatly from today’s accepted approaches to protected area management,” reads section 3.4 of the report.
“For example, the legislation establishing the park allowed for many activities that would now be viewed as incompatible with the purposes of a protected area, including: killing wolves, bears and other “noxious or injurious” wildlife; mining; and logging.
“Much has changed since the park’s early days. Today, the park is more than twice its original size, covering over 7,600 square kilometres. Algonquin Park has become an integral part of Ontario’s natural heritage and cultural identity; it receives more than 800,000 visitors a year. The park’s abundant biological diversity, which includes at least 16 species at risk, has become increasingly important given the mounting threats to biodiversity in Ontario.”
Miller says there are more than 2,000-kms of logging roads in Algonquin Park and several thousand kilometres more of abandoned ones. “These roads cause a number of problems in the Park, damaging habitat, harming wildlife and acting as pathways for invasive species.”
The government recently reduced the area of the park open to logging, but almost two-thirds of Algonquin is still potentially open to timber harvesting.
Miller says logging in Algonquin is unnecessary, as there is an ample wood supply in the areas outside of the park.
“I am deeply disturbed that Ontario’s flagship park continues to receive the lowest level of protection of any of the province’s protected areas,” says Miller.
“This flies in the face of the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, 2006, which says that ecological integrity should be the top priority for managing and operating all parks.”
Miller goes on about this point in his report.
“Indeed, the government has never allowed public consultation with regard to if Algonquin Park should be logged, only where and how much,” he writes.
“MNR should bring the management of the province’s flagship park into alignment with the important role of provincial parks today and afford Algonquin Park the same level of protection as the rest of Ontario’s protected areas. The ECO strongly urges MNR to end commercial logging in Algonquin Provincial Park. The Ontario government should live up to its commitment to the conservation of biodiversity by ensuring that all provincial parks and conservation reserves receive appropriate protection.”