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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Protect caribou in oils sands area, wilderness group pleads

Written by Martin Mittelstaedt

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
"The oil sands don't need another environmental headache but they're getting one, courtesy of concerns about the possible extinction of caribou."

"A major environmental group, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, is calling on Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach to set aside from development more than half the area in and around the oil sands to prevent the region's dwindling caribou herds from being wiped out."

"In a letter to the Premier on Monday, the group said placing large parts of bitumen-rich northeastern Alberta off-limits to development would help the province repair some of the damage the oil sands have inflicted on its global image."
“Protection of caribou and wildlife habitat would send a strong message to the entire world that we in Alberta do intend to meet our commitments to sustainable resource development and maintenance of our biodiversity,” the letter said."

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 According to the article at:

"A recent study conducted by the Canadian Boreal Initiative entitled "Boreal Forest Conservation Framework" is highlighting the need to conserve this refuge as advancing development threatens the very wildlife the forest has shielded for millennia.
The University of Alberta’s Dr. Brad Stelfox and Dr. Erin Bayne teamed with the CBI’s science co-ordinator Matt Carlson, to pen the document which explores the forest’s relationship with songbirds and the woodland caribou.
The report, unveiled at the U of A Jan. 31, examined that relationship and the detrimental effects to two specific regions in the forest if a business-as-usual approach to development continued. The Mackenzie Basin watershed may be profoundly altered and risks regional extinction of woodland caribou as well as a sharp decline in bird populations.
“What we did was use computer models to look at the future effects of development in the Mackenzie watershed,” said Carlson.
The team documented and analyzed the oil sands of northeastern Alberta already rift with extensive industrial development and the relatively undeveloped and under-populated Dehcho territory of the southern Northwest Territories.
The report was not intended to impede development, but to bring to light the need to preserve half of the boreal area to sustain wildlife and to responsibly steward the remainder.
In conjunction with the U of A and Forem Technologies, the CBI’s blueprint for the boreal seeks to find the balance between the inevitable development and the natural habitat’s role pertaining to caribou and songbirds.
“We find that as development expands in the region, the boreal forest is likely to decline while the area of industrial disturbances will increase. The woodland caribou would disappear from this region,” Carlson said.
Computer simulations concluded that growing industrial disturbances would fragment intact areas of older forest. These changes would eliminate woodland caribou populations in the region and would reduce the abundance of songbirds, such as the black-throated green warbler, by as much as 60 per cent."

" Oil sands mining has left swathes of forest removed, fragmenting the habitat of the native caribou. Shell has promised to restore the habitat, yet no reclaimed land has been certified.

"The Canadian Boreal Forest alone stores 186 billion tonnes of carbon - equivalent to 27 years of the world's carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels. In digging up the forest, the peat wetlands are disturbed, releasing greenhouse gases and disturbing the earth’s balance."

"In situ extraction of oil sands does not require mining, but the extensive infrastructure to generate and inject steam underground and bring out the liquefied tar sprawls across the landscape. As a result up to 80% of these areas may be lost as viable habitat for caribou, who avoid open areas."

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.