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Earth Island News

Three years of successes

Boreal Footprint Project

2003 marks the third year that the Boreal Footprint Project (BFP) has been working to enhance public understanding of the biological and cultural values of the worldwide boreal forest. This will be the project's final report.

World Parks Congress: This past fall, BFP published a new report, "Aboriginal Experiences in Canada--Parks and Protected Areas," detailing the experiences of indigenous peoples with protected areas management in Canada. The report, together with other case studies, was compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to be distributed to stakeholders at the Fifth World Congress on Protected Areas. The report proved popular at the recent World Forestry Congress in Quebec City, Canada, and was picked up by a variety of organizations, indigenous people, and governments. The report is available at www.taigarescue.org.

BFP goes to Washington: In the spring of 2003, BFP's Rural Development Expert Sarah Lloyd went to Washington, DC, to take part in roundtable discussions on assessing sustainability in American forestlands. A review of socioeconomic criteria and indicators of sustainability written by Lloyd and BFP Founder Chanda Meek was submitted as part of the official record. Lloyd was also able to meet Bill Clinton's Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck. The report, published by the US Forest Service this past fall, can be read at http://www.fs.fed.us/research/sustain/.

Grassy Narrows Makes Headway: Members of Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario, Canada, continue the year-long blockade of logging roads to protect their right to hunt, trap, and fish on 25,000 square miles of wilderness recognized by the Canadian government as the tribe's traditional land area. On December 3, the Ashishinabek people began the action with a peaceful demonstration on a highway used by Abitibi Consolidated, the largest paper producer in North America, to ship clear-cut trees from the area. On November 13, Abitibi offered to leave a 10-square-kilometer buffer around the Grassy Narrows reserve lands, and to refrain from clearcutting within 20 kilometers of the reserve, thereby protecting 1,250 square kilometers from clearcutting.

The blockade, led mostly by women and youth, has been going strong even through bitterly cold winters. This conflict is at the heart of a case Grassy Narrows has brought to Ontario courts to decide whether Abitibi's brand of industrial forestry can co-exist with Grassy Narrows' constitutional right to live off of their lands.

BFP supporters have sent hundreds of letters of protest to Abitibi and the Canadian government. These letters of protest have lit a fire under the company, with hopeful results. As Grassy Narrows' Grand Chief Jourdain said, "Our people just want to have a say in the state of our forests, participate in the opportunities [created by forest resources], and maintain our way of life into future generations."

After working with the Taiga Rescue Network and bringing our campaign to the US, BFP is closing shop, as our team of specialists has gone on to new challenges. Director Chanda Meek moved back to the boreal zone in Fairbanks, Alaska, to research power-sharing agreements between native governments and state agencies. BFP Program Associate and boreal volunteer extraordinaire Megan Dunn has begun a new career as a union organizer. Sarah Lloyd has inherited an organic farm in Wisconsin and is also working with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, an organization that promotes the care of natural resources and fosters an ethical relationship between people and land. We thank all of BFP's supporters, including Earth Island Institute, for all the support over the years. Several large environmental organizations have begun new boreal campaigns, and we here at BFP are proud to have been able to provide vision and leadership in the promotion of boreal conservation. To stay up to date on the fate of the boreal forest, check out our allies at the Taiga Rescue Network at www.taigarescue.org.

   

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