Evidence of meeting #29 for Environment and Sustainable Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was conservation.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Monte Hummel  Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement
  • Bradley Young  Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

4 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Regarding the specific strategic you mentioned for the woodland caribou, was there success in achieving a consensus?

4 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

We think we have consensus between some of the parties. We're still actually talking about something we have not put on the table yet—we're still putting it together—but we're very close. All indications are that this is going to happen.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Very good.

4 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

It involves a great deal of technical work, of modelling, of disturbance regimes, and of wood supply analysis. It's a very technical job. I'm a forester by training and that helps. Let me put it that way.

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

The next seven minutes is Mr. Choquette's.

April 3rd, 2012 / 4 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I would also like to thank the witnesses.

I will start with Mr. Young, since Mr. Hummel had the honour of answering the first questions. But Mr. Hummel, you can also answer my question afterwards.

As you know, the conference of the signatory parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity has established a conservation target of 17% of terrestrial areas and 10% of marine areas. Right now, we are only at 10% for terrestrial areas and 1% for marine areas in Canada.

In your view, what should Canada's targets be? Should the target be 20% by 2020? What should the targets be for terrestrial areas and marine areas?

4 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

Thank you for the question.

In terms of the specific technical answer, I have no number out of the air that I can refer to. What should happen is that the local first nations, regional nations, and the larger first nations technical groups who would be speaking for the territories where these percentages are going to be deployed should be involved in a really robust process that is, I would say, partly co-led by them. Instead of being worked with, the first nations and the various governments of the land should be talking at a government-to-government level.

The other supporting actors such as ENGOs or policy groups could then fill in with expert technical advice. Because we're dealing with setting aside, conserving, and basically determining the management regime and the operational flow of these land bases at a very high level, an internationally binding level, there should be a very hard look at the rigour of involvement, participation, and investment there.

4 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

I am going to stop you there, Mr. Young, and I apologize for that.

Let me ask you another question. The Canadian boreal initiative proposes to protect 50% of the protected areas of the boreal forest.

What do you think about that? What is your opinion?

4 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

We've heard the various numbers, and again, I have nothing, and nothing has been provided to NAFA, to substantiate any of that talk. In terms of an overall goal of 50%, boy, there are a lot of ways you can skin that cat, so to speak.

Again, I would caution that when you're talking about basically determining the type of development and the types of activities that can be undertaken on traditional lands flowing from first nations territories...people are not going to be moving from their territories any time soon. A leadership position for those communities and for the affected peoples, the rights holders, should be put into place immediately to peel back whatever number, whether it's 5%, 10%, 17%, or 50%. Those communities and the representative voices need to be in actual leadership, government-to-government positions to really adjudicate on those matters.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

I will come back to you later.

I would just like to ask Mr. Hummel whether he agrees with the 20% for protected lands, for example, or at least whether he is in favour of pursuing the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Do you think that it should be specified somewhere that the Government of Canada has to make firm and absolute commitments in terms of the percentage?

4:05 p.m.

Chair, Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Monte Hummel

I'm very familiar with this percentage argument, and I think it's somewhat artificial. I actually agree with a lot of what Bradley said. I think the percentage of what's conserved or protected should be an output of something else. I think the key is not just the quantity, but the quality of what we protect or conserve.

I headed up the Endangered Spaces campaign. Its goal was to establish a representative system of protected areas in Canada representing all the natural regions of the country. During the 1990s, there were 486 natural regions in Canada. The idea there was just to have baseline representative samples of our natural mosiac. That's an ecological goal; it's not a per cent goal. So I would argue to have an ecological goal and a cultural goal working with first nations, and let the percentage fall where it may.

I was also one of the founders of the boreal framework, which put that 50% number out there. I would observe that when communities are left to their own devices, and they aren't whispered into the ear by big conservation groups, big governments, or big companies, they've tended to protect about 50% of their territory by their own choice. So the 50% does have a historical precedent.

4:05 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette Drummond, QC

Thank you very much. I apologize for somewhat rushing you, but my time is limited.

I just have a quick question for both of you. I will start with Mr. Young.

Should the national conservation plan pay attention to climate change or action on climate change? Should this be included in our national conservation plan?

4:05 p.m.

Senior Policy Analyst, National Aboriginal Forestry Association

Bradley Young

I would argue not just climate change, as per the content that I've shared in my opening statements. I think there's a convergence of issues that need to be considered over the land base. These issues are climate change, economic development, and the different sectors that are going to be engaging in this economic development. There are also the different peoples and the migration patterns in terms of urban/rural. There's so much there. There's so much complexity there that I think we need really workable, functional goals in terms of an ecological model, in terms of first nations, in terms of a respectful rights base model, and in terms of the other aspects and players in government and in society who look for prosperity and economic development. Then I guess it's roll up the sleeves and get to work.

I've only seen the national conservation plan referred to in the throne speech, and then in some of the preliminary feeders out there.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Mark Warawa

Time has expired. Thank you.

Mr. Toet, you have seven minutes.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses.

I wanted to touch a little bit on the whole aspect that you both touched on; that is, economic growth and conservation working together side by side, and that there's differentiation. Mr. Young, you touched on it a little bit also. We always have this implication of conservation areas as just drawing a bunch of lines on a map around a certain spot and saying, you can do this and you can't do that. How do you see the integration of those two things working together in a real way? Just give us an example of how you would see that coming together.