(Earth) -- Rainforest Action Network (ran.org) of San Francisco has long been one of America's leading rainforest campaign organizations. Yet in July their campaign to protect Ontario, Canada's boreal forests doomed half this vital global ecological system to industrial destruction. In return, RAN and other proponents received vague promises of protections over a decade from now, but no protected area boundaries or protection plans.
Canada's boreal forests are home to hundreds of sensitive species of animals including polar bears, caribou and wolverines. Boreal forests are some of the world's largest carbon storehouses, with holdings equal to decades of global emissions from fossil fuels, while continually absorbing new emissions. The boreal region is also the world's largest reservoir of clean fresh water.
"Just how much longer do you think environmentalists can strike deals that give up half of large wilderness ecosystems to industrial development for vague promises of protection? Simply, more ecologically attuned folks know no more natural habitats can be lost and expect to survive climate change," explains Ecological Internet's President, Dr. Glen Barry.
Neither RAN, WWF or even Greenpeace realize that there is no longer any acceptable reason to industrially destroy or diminish an intact natural ecosystem -- not if falsely FSC certified, not to briefly alleviate poverty, and not because indigenous people are in favor. The state of the Earth is so grim, and the needs to protect and restore natural ecosystem so large, that only sufficient campaigns seeking to end industrial cutting and burning are worthwhile any longer. The rest is greenwash.
It is unknown if 50 percent protection -- of unknown strength and placement -- will be enough to fully sustain Ontario's biodiversity and ecosystem services. Future protections will likely center on the sparsely populated and largely unthreatened northern boreal, while with its promotion and endorsement of the vague plan, RAN has greenwashed intensified forestry and mining in the already heavily fragmented southern boreal.
"The only meaningful forest protection is to work to keep all ancient primary forests standing, and to meet needs for forest products from secondary forests regenerating into old-growth. There is no chance of achieving global ecological sustainability until ecological destruction ends, what remains is fully protected, and restoration begins," explains Dr. Barry.
This is the second time in recent history -- the other being in British Columbia, Canada's priceless Great Bear temperate rainforest -- that RAN has been a driving force in continuing industrial loss of the world's most important remaining large, intact forest wildernesses. Greenwashing millions of acres of industrial wilderness destruction in the name of indigenous rights is not doing these people or the environment any favors. Thankfully, RAN now does little tropical rainforest campaigning, so they may be safe. With more victories like this, soon there will be no ancient forests or an operable climate.
RAN's slide from a force for forest good to a force for forest greenwash must not go unchallenged. This is particularly difficult for Ecological Internet, as President Dr. Glen Barry is a RAN rainforest award recipient, and has worked collaboratively with them for decades. Yet RAN's string of blunders -- also including occupying campaign offices of Al Gore to protest oil investments (which Nader also had), possibly swinging the 2000 election -- cannot be forgotten nor forgiven, particularly while ill-informed appeasement continues. RAN has censored those questioning these policies on their blog.
Dr. Barry laments, "You can?t present yourselves as cutting edge, selfless and knowledgeable forest protestors and be routinely cutting deals to turn over millions of acres of ancient forests to fatcat loggers and minders. We need to focus on how many ecosystems are necessary to maintain the Earth's habitability, and reaching these levels of protection and restoration, not upon what can be indelicately and easily negotiated.
RAN is called upon to get on board protecting all ancient forests and working to restore mature, old-growth forests; or they, like so much of the mainstream environmental movement, are part of the climate and biodiversity crises. "Giving up on half of Canada's boreal forests for a pocket full is mumbles is not the role of the Rainforest Action Network, members or donors. They have no authority or expertise to be pursuing such deals."
Dr. Glen Barry is a leading global spokesperson on global forest and climate policy. Ecological Internet provides the world's leading climate and forest web portals at www.climateark.org and forests.org. Dr. Barry frequently conducts interviews on the latest environmental policy developments and can be reached at: glenbarry [AT] ecologicalinternet org (note confirmation email response required) and +1 (920) 776-1075.