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Northerners to get a voice on species at risk policy

Province creating independent expert panel to address controversial policy formulation
Caribou 2

The blowback over the Ontario government’s controversial species at risk policy has registered with the incoming Natural Resources and Forestry Minister.

A day after the formation of a new coalition of pro-forestry advocates was announced, Nathalie Des Rosiers is delivering on a long-standing call for a panel of Northerners and experts to have a greater say on how new forestry policy will be formulated.

Des Rosiers announced Jan. 19 that a proposal is being posted to create an expert panel to provide a “long-term solution for species at risk in Crown forests.”

This panel would include representatives from Northern municipalities, Indigenous leaders, scientists and forestry practitioners.

The government said in a news release that there needs to be balance in creating opportunities for business while protecting wildlife species habitat.

The panel’s job will be “identify innovative local approaches and potential pilot projects for consideration as part of the development of the province's long-term approach to protecting species at risk and their habitat while minimizing impacts to the forest industry.”

The province said will extend the current regulatory approach to Crown forestry for a two-year timeframe.

“Our government has listened to the concerns of Northern municipalities, Indigenous communities, environmental organizations and the forest industry – and we want to find a solution which strikes the right balance as we deal with the negative effects of climate change,” said Des Rosiers in a statement.

"This new proposal, with a two-year regulation extension for forestry, will allow us to continue to uphold Ontario’s high standards of sustainable forest management and protection for species at risk while we find a solution that is right for Ontario.”