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Scanned copy, if there are errors, please e-mail me with corrections:
Page - - Mississauga News, Nov. 16, 1994, Wednesday, by Jocelyn Webber.

Guest column.

Let's silence the chain saws

The City of Mississauga has 42 city-owned wooded areas that are becoming increasingly valued, even treasured, by its citizens as the city becomes increasingly urbanized. One would think that the management plan for such a valued resource would have been developed with extensive public consultation and the broadest possible expert input.

Quite the contrary, in early 1994 staff from the City and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority held public consultations only after establishing their own agenda. The purpose of these meeting seemed to be only to smooth out any public controversy and to convince concerned citizens that logging was necessary to rejuvenate Mississauga's woodlots. Biological scientists were dumbfounded to discover that within a matter of weeks the City and the CVCA had pushed ahead and completed extensive logging in one of the City's most important woodlots -- the Cawthra-Elliot estate.

Professor Paul Maycock of Erindale College, an expert on plant ecology in Ontario, was absolutely stunned when I phoned him at his home London, Ontario last winter to tell him what was happening in the Cawthra woods. A committed conservationist, Maycock asked what he could do to help. We agreed that as time was of the essence he would fax me a hand-written of his data for this area collected in 1959 as well as comments on the significance and management of woodlots in Mississauga.

The two-page report was forwarded immediately to City staff. Professor Maycock concluded as follows:
"Such an old growth ecosystem has invaluable worth for forest ecological research, as a benchmark for natural successional change and to monitor global climactic changes, as a natural museum of wonder for children and adults alike, as a repository of genetic diversity, and just as a thing of joy and beauty."
By early spring of 1994, logging in the Cawthra woods was stopped. A group of concerned environmental scientists presented the City with their ecological concerns regarding the City's forest management plan. To date there is no evidence that the City intends to abandon or even modify its plans to log City woodlots.

The question remains, what does the City plan to do with these woodlots in the long term? Are they to be mined as a resource? Degraded by disturbance to such a degree that they end up as open, treed, parkland requiring mowing and other maintenance? Will they be turned into semi-natural gardens with the City's current plan to introduce Carolinian species? Who will decide which species should be added? At what cost? From where and to what habitat and site? What criteria will be used to determine whether such introductions can survive and reproduce without human intervention (i.e. more maintenance)?

There are two fundamentally different management philosophies for natural areas within cities. Foresters have traditionally chosen to look only at the trees and to manipulate species composition, structure and individual tree size through cutting. Ecologists take a broader-based approach to natural area management and all components of the system are considered in developing a management plan.

Unfortunately, only foresters from the City, the CVCA and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources were involved in the original decisions about how to manage the Cawthra woods and the other 42 woodlots in Mississauga. Ecologists within the OMNR (who were only made aware of the logging of Cawthra woods after the fact) as well as ecologists from Canadian conservation organizations such as the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, World Wildlife Fund and Canadian Botanical Association are opposed to logging as a management policy for woodlots in urban areas.

Not all foresters, however, are in favor of logging as management for natural areas in cities. In the United States, where the study, management and protection of natural areas is light years ahead of Canada, some foresters have a more ecological approach in general to managing natural areas. This enlightened attitude was recently revealed during a phone conversation with John Dwyer, a forester in charge of urban forest management for the greater Chicago region: "Once you hear the chain saws, you know you've lost the battle."

The City of Mississauga should be seeking much broader expert input and should be consulting with the citizens of Mississauga.

Jocelyn Webber is a botanist who resides in Mississauga.

PHOTO; of Jocelyn Webber

CAPTION; Jocelyn Webber

It will make a difference!

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[COMMENTS BY DON B. - Jocelyn Webber, thank you very much for your part in stopping the logging at Cawthra and congratulations on saving the Creditview Bog.

This work shows residents how government works or doesn't work. As well as how far out of step the City of Mississauga is with both the academic community and the rest of the world in the field of environmental management.

"To date there is no evidence that the City intends to abandon or even modify its plans to log City woodlots." It is now Feb. 1999 and this statement is still largely true. The City with the aid of UFMAC has only piled the paper higher and never said sorry for its logging.   ]

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