Lucie Cloutier / Fides A solitary caribou on the Péribonka River. From the book "Le Québec à 5 km/h".

Text by Jean-Pierre Duford, Forest Protection Spokesperson

A study of the forest covering Mount Kaaikop, the second highest peak in the Laurentians, gives an idea of the benefits of protecting old-growth forests, and the not inconsiderable economic spin-offs that result.

For the past six years, the Coalition for the Preservation of Mount Kaaikop has been working to protect the mountain from economically motivated logging. In order to get a clear picture of the economic repercussions of leaving the forest intact, or of enhancing its value through logging, the Coalition commissioned a study from researchers at UQÀM, the Institut des sciences de la forêt tempérée and UQO. The findings of this study were presented at a joint press conference held by the David Suzuki Foundation and the Coalition on February 28. (Coalition website)

The results of this study show that adding value to the timber from this century-old forest would generate $2.5 million, whereas keeping it intact would generate $2.2 million - a difference of only 300,000$! Saving the forest would therefore generate almost as much money for the economy, in addition to preserving its biodiversity, beauty and the services it provides to aboriginal culture - indeed, the Tioweroton Mohawk reserve in Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides, a territory belonging to the Kahnawake and Kanesatake nations, is located in this area.

Ecological economics specialist Jérôme Dupras, one of the study's co-authors, asks: "The idea is to ask ourselves what we're prepared to do for 300,000 $. Are we prepared to sacrifice natural habitats, the potential for future development of recreational tourism activities for this small gain?" (Radio-Canada)

Another researcher involved in the study, Christian Messier, forestry engineer and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UQAM, deplores "the lack of progress made since the Coulombe report was tabled in 2004". "The MFFP's goal is to cut down forests to supply mills, and it doesn't look at other costs," he says.

The Coulombe Report, a reaction to Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie's documentary 'L'erreur boréale' 20 years ago, made dozens of recommendations in 2004, including the creation of a Chief Forester.

The Green Party of Quebec considers the current way of exploiting Quebec's forests to be unsustainable. Mature forests, various species of flora and fauna, and biodiversity are all under threat, due to government policies that favor logging at all costs. For these reasons, he supports greater protection for Quebec's forests. This implies protecting a greater area of forest and enhancing the knowledge of First Nations.

Jean-Pierre Duford, Forest Protection Spokesperson

Sources:

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