Endangered Spaces: The Future for Wilderness in Canada
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 31 Oct 1991, p. 191-200
Description
Creator
Hummel, Monte, Speaker
Media Type
Text
Item Type
Speeches
Description
A presentation and slide show addressing the issues of an endangered species campaign. A description of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF): what it stands for; its aims; the activities of its international president, Prince Philip; fundraising campaigns and what funds are used for. The concept of endangered species and our impact on the world. A tour of Canada through slides, depicting what we have to save in terms of wildlife and people and the environment. Goals of the WWF. What they have been able to do so far. The situation specific to Ontario. Detailed action steps to be taken in Ontario. An agenda for every province and territory now and over the next year a plan to map progress. Ways to help.
Date of Original
31 Oct 1991
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Language of Item
English
Copyright Statement
The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Empire Club of Canada
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Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
Monte Hummel, President, World Wildlife Fund of Canada
ENDANGERED SPACES: THE FUTURE FOR WILDERNESS IN CANADA
Introduction: John F. Bankes
President, The Empire Club of Canada

"Nature to be commanded, must be obeyed."

Sir Francis Bacon

Picture the opening scene of Winnie the Pooh. Edward Bear is being dragged down the stairs on his head behind Christopher Robin. Edward Bear is reflecting on the classic existential irony. He knows, we are told, there must be a better way to come downstairs; if only he could stop thumping and think about it!

A growing number of environmentally responsible citizens, both individuals and corporations, face a similar quandary. To date, we have appeased our conscience mainly by heightening our awareness of environmental issues and by avoiding the products and services of manufacturers and suppliers who have poor records on environmental animal rights and other issues. The approach is, of course, perfectly consistent with the thumping immediacy of pollution, the extinction of species, and the like.

Still, many of us would like to find a more positive or proactive way of working to achieve an environmentally friendly world.

The people working at World Wildlife Fund, including our guest speaker Monte Hummel, exemplify this dedication and commitment

to the cause of conservation. As part of a network of 28 affiliate organizations with 3.7 million supporters around the world, WWF's mission in the 1990s is to achieve the conservation of nature and ecological processes by:

• first, preserving genetic, species and ecosystem diversity;

• secondly, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable both now and in the longer term; • thirdly, promoting actions to reduce, to a minimum, pollution and the wasteful exploitation and consumption of resources and energy; and

• finally, stopping, and eventually reversing, the accelerating degradation of our planet's natural environment, and to help build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.

These objectives are ambitious. However, as trustees of a huge, magnificently endowed slice of the world's real estate, Canadians carry special responsibilities in planetary housekeeping. No group in Canada feels this more intensely than the people working at WWF and their financial partners, represented at the head table today by the Canada Life Assurance Company.

The Empire Club is honoured to have as its guest speaker today the President of WWF Canada, Monte Hummel. Monte's roots in environmentalism run deep, reaching back to the hydro camp in northwestern Ontario where he grew up. When Hummel's Ojibway schoolmates were stricken with mercury poisoning caused by eating fish from the English-Wabigoon river system, an environmentalist was born. He enrolled in philosophy at the University of Toronto and, as a Child of the '60s, moved on to Pollution Probe, which he co-founded in 1969, and on to a score of environmental groups he has been involved with since.

Monte's current challenge is the Endangered Spaces campaign. The campaign was launched by WWF in 1989 to dispel the myth that Canada is a land of limitless wilderness, and to ensure that a network of protected wilderness areas is established across Canada by the year 2000. The Canada Life Assurance Company is supporting the Endangered Spaces campaign with a major grant of $500,000 over five years.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Monte Hummel.

Monte Hummel:

Thank you very much. I think environmentalists have a reputation of being a rather dour bunch of people and you have standing before you someone who was raised in a hydro camp north of Kenora.

One of my lesser claims to fame is I went to Woodstock for my honeymoon; I am indeed a child of the '60s.

It's a great pleasure to be here. It's been said that the '90s is going to be a decade when the earth speaks back. There's no doubt in my mind that that's going to be true. I guess what is yet to be determined is whether we will listen and I thank you for being here to listen to the earth speak back today.

I feel that if I'm not preaching to the converted, I'm at least preaching to the predisposed. And I would like to move right into some slides; and embark on explaining fairly concisely what an endangered species campaign is all about.

This campaign was launched in September 1989 by the World Wildlife Fund (Canada). For those who may not know too much about the W WF, we're the group with the panda for a logo and a prince for a president. I'm told that one out of two Canadians recognizes that WWF stands for World Wildlife Fund and not the World Wrestling Federation.

We raise a couple of hundred million dollars a year worldwide, about $6 million a year here in Canada. We are represented in 28 countries and have raised about $700 million since our founding. We have supported 7,000 projects in 130 countries.

Out aim is to conserve the variety of life, the biological diversity of our planet. Prince Philip is our very active international president; I am told that he spends upwards of a third of his time now working for World Wildlife Fund.

I think, if we're going to talk about endangered species I must say that our entire world has become an endangered space, we quite literally cannot do one thing in one part of the planet without it affecting something somewhere else.

We're going to talk about a magnificent piece of real estate, a slice of the globe called Canada. I love this slide because it pictures Canada as a beautiful green entity. I don't like it because it creates the image that we have unending natural habitat in this country, which is not true.

I'd like to take you on a whirlwind tour of our country, just to give you a sense of what's at stake, before I break into a few charts and graphs. Starting in the Arctic, this is what a lot of people who don't live in Canada think of Canada. They think of polar bears in the Arctic. Indeed it's true, Canada still does have vast expanses, and this slide encapsulates my message, if you want to save endangered species you've got to save endangered spaces.

It's like that polar bear, you've got to save that Arctic marine ecosystem that you see all around that bear in that slide.

Here is an aerial shot of Ellesmere Island, this is to represent the space. We have to hang on to the space if we want to save those species.

Moving further into the tundra regions, we have the world's healthiest population of wolves. Many countries are trying to hang on to the last remnant, the last handful. My colleagues in Scandinavia are astonished when they hear of us eliminating hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of wolves from river valleys in Canada in predator-control programs.

Well here's the chance. We have 17 subspecies of wolves in Canada Here's the chance to hang on to the magnificent symbol of the wilderness and not repeat the mistakes made elsewhere. Now extinct in 14 countries in Europe, disappeared from the southern portions of our country as well, 95 per cent gone from the southern United States.

More of tundra species, the caribou, and this is the space, the Arctic tundra, often called a barren land. You can see it's not barren at all, it's a very rich garden that deserves our conservation concerns every bit as much as other more spectacular habitats in Canada.

And this is to remind us that we're not just talking about wildlife, we're talking about the future of people who still depend on wildlife. Aboriginal peoples, obviously are in the front line, but so is everybody who depends on pharmaceutical chemicals. Forty per cent of our pharmaceutical chemicals still come from raw plant derivatives.

Moving to the West Coast, this is a sea otter that leapt into prominence with the Valdez oil spill. An endangered species in Canada. We have the world's healthiest population, not only of wolves, but of bald eagles, particularly up the West Coast through Oregon, British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska.

We've just finished a book called Wild Hunt, on the top predators and the large carnivores of Canada These are the most demanding species for conservation because they demand the most space. Believe it or not, we have yet to establish one reserve for grizzly bears in this country. Some of our national parks are protecting them almost by accident, they were never designed to do that. The grizzly is making its last stand on a planetary basis, in our country and we've yet to establish a reserve to protect this magnificent animal.

This is the old-forest from the West Coast around which there has been so much debate. This, of course, is a Haida totem from the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Into Alberta, this is called the Aspen Parkland habitat of Alberta where the grassland meets the forest regions of the north. This has been 80 per cent eliminated from the landscape of Canada. This is a shadowy peregrine falcon, the fastest living thing on earth that we know about, dives at speeds of up to 250 to 275 kilometres-an-hour.

An endangered species in Canada, it is being reintroduced into Alberta and other parts of the country with the help of sponsors such as Canada Life.

This is the Red Deer River; the most endangered wildlife habitats in our country are our Prairie grasslands. Into Saskatchewan, more of our Prairie habitats, the antelope for which the very first reserves in Canada were established. The burrowing owl, a very small and interesting animal that lives in burrows. A threatened species, it's been hit very hard by agricultural pesticides.

This is the black footed ferret, another interesting little predator that we've eliminated from Canada. It's been slowly reintroduced into the United States from breeding in captivity. The ferret feeds on prairie dogs, which itself has become a threatened species in Canada.

Into Manitoba, one of my favourite provinces. This is a weasel, a very interesting little critter that's threatened in Canada, that lives around wetlands of Manitoba. We're working with Manitoba trappers to make sure that this animal isn't trapped, particularly by accident, in the course of trapping muskrat and other more abundant species.

The bison or buffalo, we have a wood bison and a plains bison in this country. Fairly sad testimony to what we've done to Prairie habitats.

And this is a sign of hope, this is the white falcon, the corporate logo for Canada Life. It amuses me that this bird was chosen because they thought it was such a good parent, reflected a caring approach to life, a good symbol for an insurance company.

This is a lousy parent. In fact, this bird is endangered because it so readily abandons its young in the spring.

This is another sign of hope, the pelican. It has been taken off the endangered species list, a direct result of work supported by Canada Life. It was the first species taken off the endangered species list. We've just stopped bugging it in the spring and we're protecting its space, its habitat.

This is the most endangered species you'll see in the whole slide show, it's the tall grass prairie. It's over 99 per cent gone from the Canadian landscape along with the host of species that depended on this particular space.

Here we are in Ontario. This is a lousy picture of a wolverine, but there's nothing but lousy pictures of wolverines, a very rare species in Northern Ontario. Way down on the other end of the province, in the south, this is a possum, a species more typical of the Carolinas. That's why this is called the Carolinian zone of Canada, sort of a straight line between Toronto and Goderich, south is the Carolinian zone. Other species, such as the cucumber tree, are found in the Carolinian zone.

And, of course, this is over 90 per cent eliminated because of urbanization of agriculture, tremendous pressures on this particular space in Canada.

Into Quebec--the band of whales hanging on in the St. Lawrence River, classified as an endangered population. If we're going to save them we have to save their space in terms of cleaning up pollution in the St. Lawrence and protecting the rivers that drain into James Bay. Again, a big debate about flooding and the impact on endangered populations all up the east coast to James Bay, Hudson's Bay.

And into the Maritimes, the Atlantic Provinces, this is the white whale, one of the most endangered whales in the world. And it gives us a chance to say that we're talking about marine spaces too, not just land spaces. This is the coast of Cape Breton and some of the last remaining Acadian hardwood forests. Another very endangered habitat in our country.

The eastern cougar is classified as endangered, it's very likely extinct. But every once in a while there's a few people who think they see these every year. We've lost the cougar because of what we've done to its hardwood habitat in the eastern part of the country.

And this is a sand dune in Prince Edward Island, again to give you a sense of the variety of the biological tapestry that we're talking about in our country. And finally to Newfoundland and Labrador. Here are some Maritime woodland caribou on their way to the wilderness area that houses 10,000 of these caribou. Here's a shot of the Bayview North, a very beautiful wilderness area that was protected a few years ago--a major conservation accomplishment that didn't really get the national attention it deserved.

So the message is, if you want to save an endangered species you have got to save endangered spaces. Most experts indicate or project that between 750,000 and one million species that now exist on the planet will be endangered or lost within 10 years. If we're going to save those species you have to save these spaces.

These are the areas, the natural regions of Canada, forests, and biology and geography; it's what God gave us. This is a relatively non-controversial exercise, mapping you natural regions. We probably have about 350 natural regions, distinguishable natural regions in Canada.

The dark ones are the ones judged to be adequately represented with protected areas of some kind. In other words, a park or wilderness area where there is no industrial development, no logging, no mining, no hydroelectric development. The grey lines are sort of partially represented and the white part of the country is where we either haven't mapped our natural regions or we haven't set targets and decided to try and establish protective areas to represent those natural regions.

We've really done less than a quarter of the job so far in terms of representing our natural regions in Canada with protected areas. We're trying to get all the grey and the white off the map and make sure that all of our natural regions are adequately represented through the endangered species campaign.

So this is our goal. To establish a network of protective areas representing all the natural regions in Canada, adding up to at least 12 per cent of our lands and waters, by the year 2000. Twelve per cent wasn't pulled out of a hat; it came from a very well known international report on the environment and development, a United Nations report.

We have a country of about 10 million square kilometres. If we protect 12 per cent of it, that would be 1.2 million square kilometres. So far, we've reserved about 6.8 per cent and, in fact, we've only protected, in a sense of free from industrial development, about 3.4 per cent. It's taken us over 100 years to get this job barely half done and we're seriously suggesting to get the rest of the job done within the next 10 years. We've boiled this agenda down into a Canadian Wilderness Charter; there are copies of the charter available and we would be delighted if you would consider adding your name. We're looking for a million signatures for that charter.

Here's what we've been able to do so far. We have six jurisdictions that have committed themselves to the endangered spaces campaign. Ontario, the Federal Government, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, B.C. and Yukon. We have about 235 endorsing organizations, the largest coalition ever pulled together around an environmental concern in Canada. We have 350,000 signatures so far on our charter.

Our book Endangered Spaces has become a bestseller in Canada, I'm pleased to say. And I'm sure that Angus Scott of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is pleased because his organization gets all the royalties. We have wilderness crusaders raising money up and down the country, and finding signatures for our charter.

We have very strong media support, and we have support from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and from organizations such as Canada Life and Canadian Airlines.

Yet despite all this effort and support, at this point last year we protected 3.4 per cent of Canada. And at this point it's still 3.4 per cent. Ontario has set targets for natural regions, it's represented almost half of its natural regions, 32 of 65, and made a commitment to the Endangered Spaces Campaign. And yet the per cent change over the last year has been zero in terms of specific growth. So we gave Ontario a C+, one of the best.

Are we going to give up, is this just too challenging for the Canadian political system? We don't think so.

This is the situation in Ontario, probably the most progressive jurisdiction in the country on this particular environmental item. You can see a large number of the natural regions are represented here. But the challenge in Ontario is to complete the job, get the job finished. We've mapped out detailed action steps for every jurisdiction. You can see we're talking of specific sites and specific areas here in Ontario.

We've mapped this kind of an agenda out for every province and territory now, and over the next year we'll be measuring progress. We're not going to go away. We will publish another progress report after a year.

How you can help?

You can press for progress on the action points, they are available from Wildlife Fund. We invite you to sign the Canadian Wilderness Charter. Become a wilderness crusader, climbing the CN Tower on Earth Day again this year.

We're not going away. But conservation in Canada must move more quickly. In coming back to my introductory note, I am convinced that the '90s will be the decade when the earth speaks back. I thank you for listening and I guess the proof of the pudding will be what we're going to do about it. Thank you very much.

The appreciation of the meeting was given by Peter K. Hendrick, Vice President and Director, Wood Gundy Inc., and a Director of The Empire Club of Canada.

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Endangered Spaces: The Future for Wilderness in Canada


A presentation and slide show addressing the issues of an endangered species campaign. A description of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF): what it stands for; its aims; the activities of its international president, Prince Philip; fundraising campaigns and what funds are used for. The concept of endangered species and our impact on the world. A tour of Canada through slides, depicting what we have to save in terms of wildlife and people and the environment. Goals of the WWF. What they have been able to do so far. The situation specific to Ontario. Detailed action steps to be taken in Ontario. An agenda for every province and territory now and over the next year a plan to map progress. Ways to help.