The Council of Canadians - Winnipeg Chapter


Experts Support an Intact Boreal Forest

Posted by Winnipeg Chapter on October 1, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Four years ago the NDP decided to build the new transmission line to ensure energy security for Manitoba and to facilitate increased export sales of energy to the United States. They chose the west side route to protect the Boreal Forest on the east side of Lake Winnipeg (which would support a bid to designate the Boreal Forest as a UNESCO World Heritage site), while respecting First Nations' rights and considering long term sustainable development of the province. This Manitoba election, the Progressive Conservative party has tried to frame the west side construction of BiPole III as wrong. They claim that because the east side would be a shorter distance it would be cheaper, and therefore better.

Here's what the experts have to say:

Excerpt from:
Environmental scientists join bid to protect part of boreal forest
By Gloria Galloway - Globe and Mail - Sep. 29, 2011

"More than 70 prominent environmental scientists have endorsed a bid by first nations in Northern Ontario and Manitoba to have 43,000 square kilometres of intact boreal forest declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“As scientists who have contributed to advancing conservation issues and opportunities around the world,” they say in their letter, “we would like to acknowledge the globally unique cultural and ecological values of the boreal forest ecosystem on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.”

To protect this region “of outstanding universal value,” wrote the scientists, “we support the initiative of regional first nations in partnership with the governments of Manitoba, Ontario and Canada, to create the Pimachiowin Aki UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

The area includes the swath of forest that would have been cut to construct a contentious hydro transmission line on the east side of Lake Winnipeg had the Manitoba government not refused to allow the project to proceed."

read the full article.

Excerpt from:
Protecting the boreal wilderness known as Pimachiowin Aki
By David Suzuki - September 20, 2011

"One of the largest areas of untouched boreal wilderness left in the world straddles a significant section of Eastern Manitoba and Northern Ontario. The local Anishinabe First Nation calls this massive 43,000-square-kilometre region Pimachiowin Aki (Pim-MATCH-cho-win Ahh-KEY). In English, it means the "the land that gives life".


Home to such threatened species as woodland caribou, and dotted with freshwater lakes, wild rivers, and biodiversity-rich wetlands, Pimachiowin Aki has remained more or less unchanged for some 5,000 years, roughly as long as recorded human history. It is the very absence of clear-cuts, mines, hydroelectric dams, transmission lines, and other industrial infrastructure, along with the region's rich cultural landscape, that makes Pimachiowin Aki so exceptional, and it is for this reason that First Nations communities want to protect it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site."

"Fortunately, the Manitoba government has listened and is working with First Nations to protect the area for its unparalleled ecological and cultural richness. If they succeed, it would join other world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Pyramids at Giza in Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, and the 7.7 million-hectare Ténéré Nature Reserve in the Sahara Desert region of Niger.

However, obtaining international recognition for Pimachiowin Aki as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is no easy task. The Manitoba government and local communities have had to make difficult decisions to sustain the ecological integrity of the region in the face of industrial pressures. Most notably, the government decided to reroute a planned multibillion dollar hydro transmission line away from the area. It would have cut through the heart of the World Heritage Site. The controversial decision has become political fodder in the current Manitoba election campaign.

Many environmental groups and scientists, including the David Suzuki Foundation, support the government?s difficult decision. We believe Pimachiowin Aki must be protected as a special place where rivers run wild, caribou roam unfettered by industrial development, and the centuries-old values of its indigenous peoples are honoured and respected."

read the full article. 

Excerpt from:
Economic & Social Trends
By Lynne Fernandez - CCPA Review - March 2011

"The west side of Lakes Manitoba and Winnipegosis, where the west-side route is proposed, contains pockets of high-value boreal, but it is fragmented with lower value boreal, farmland, roads, forestry, mining and hydro-electric activity and settlements. The difference between the two areas is the intactness of the eastside. In fact, a global map of the boreal forest shows the east side of Lake Winnipeg and the western part of Ontario to have the highest quality boreal forest in the world.

"Although not 100% pristine, the east side is intact, referring to its ". . . continuity of systems and processes, un-fragmented and distant from human infrastructure". It is both the considerable size of the area and its intactness that make it unique in the world, not just in Canada.

According to The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the area in question contains several interconnected natural environments that provide important "ecosystem services". In order for these services to continue to be provided, natural environments within the region have to remain whole and connected. One of the most important services is that of wildlife habitat, particularly in this case, for the boreal woodland caribou."

read the full report.

Excerpt from:
BiPole 3 Decision, A Reality Check - Debunking BiPole III Myths
The Heart of the Boreal

Myth #1:

BiPole III will cost more to go down the west side of the province than the east side.

In Reality:

On the surface this statement is correct, as the west side route for BiPole III will have some $400 million of additional upfront costs plus another $240 million for line loss. While this may be a lot of money, in reality the additional costs of building Bipole 3 on the west side amounts to only 3% of Manitoba Hydro's total capital program for the next decade. That's the difference between paying $1.09 for a loaf of bread instead of $1.06.

However, if the government of Manitoba were to reconsider its decision and construct BiPole III down the east side of Lake Winnipeg, through the intact Heart of the Boreal forest, these savings would be eaten up very quickly.

debunk all the myths.

BiPole 3 video:

Manitoba Hydro Bipole III Debate - Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

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"Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way
in order to come back a short distance correctly."

~Edward Albee

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