Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Natives agree not to log

According to Global Insight, there has been an agreement between environmental and native groups to prevent logging in areas of B.C. As the article explains, this single agreement allows authorities to avoid a costly uprising between the two groups (at least in the short term).
Even if a second war in the woods is avoided in B.C., authorities and natives still face a challenging economic problem.
What economic alternatives will natives come up with? I'm eager to find out (perhaps more sustainable logging in alternative areas?). Authorities will have more to fret about than costly protests if the natives get a bum deal. For example, consider the UNDP Human Rights Index, which gives Canada a failing grade in terms of its relationship with natives.

James Auger, Global Insight (10 Aug 2006), “Deal to Protect Canadian Rainforests Lifts Threat of Violent Protests” (sorry, no link):

Logging on Vancouver Island in the 1990s prompted huge protests, christened the "War in the Woods". There was widespread civil disobedience, logging roads were blocked and an international boycott of products from the area was organized. The recent announcement by aboriginal chiefs that they were planning to allow limited logging of some 90,000 hectares prompted fears of a repeat of the protests. However, a deal was eventually struck that leaves most of the rainforest untouched in Clavoquot Sound and on Vancouver Island. These areas are located off the westernmost province of British Columbia and host some of the world's last untouched temperate rainforests. A United Nations Biosphere Reserve is located nearby. It is hoped that the federal government will help develop economic alternatives to logging.
The main environmental groups involved are Greenpeace, ForestEthics, the Sierra Club of Canada and the Western Canada Wilderness Committee. They say that the agreement is not enough, but that it is sufficient to prevent large-scale protests for the time being. The groups would like permanent legislation that would ban logging outright and provide economic alternatives for residents. The area already attracts some one million tourists a year, but the local aboriginals receive little of the revenue. Significance: The authorities will be relieved that a repeat of the "War in the Woods" is not on the cards, but the dispute is likely to flare again unless a more lasting solution is found.

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