Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says forestry and mining activities will be prohibited in a 225,000-square-kilometre area of the province's northern boreal forest.
This is a good news story. Preserving the boreal forest is a sound goal. And setting aside large sections of land from use by resource-extraction industries is a good way to do it. OF course those industries will likely cry that this is a terrible hardship that will cripple them.
And in part I sympathize with that cry. The troubling part of the story as I first heard it is that it will take 10+ years to map out what area is to be declared off-limits. For the industries this is bad because it throws an incredible amount of uncertainty into their future planning. For the environmental lobby this is bad news because there is absolutely no guarantee that it will actually happen. we have election every 4 years in this province. By 2018 we will have had at least 2 more (2011 and 2015, assuming there isn't a minority government elected and then defeated in the house). That is 2 chances for the government to change, and what one government puts into motion another can stop dead in its tracks.
The idea is good. And admittedly discernment is needed to determine which areas to preserve. But 10 years is too long. Too long to wait, too much uncertainty. But the idea is good. And if it hurts the mining and forestry industries then so be it. Only if we assume that human needs/wants trump the rest of creation is it automatically bad to limit resource extraction.