The government of British Columbia, Canada, approved a request by the Redfern Corporation to build a 100 mile long mining road through the traditional land of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. But they approved this road without asking the permission of hte First Nation. If I understand things correctly, they didn't even ask the First Nation. And The land lies in northern British Columbia and is said to be one of the largest remaining wild areas of northern forests and tundra left in North America. A mining road like this could have big effects on the wildlife, on the scenery, and most important on the culture and way of life of the Tlinglits.
The First Nation asked me write a report about the possible environmental effects of the mining road, and I did this in the early fall of 2004, getting a small group of scientists and engineers together who had experience and knowledge about wilderness ecosystems, wildlife conservation, and road-building. Directing this kind of meeting of a small group of scientists and technical experts is something I have done repeatedly in my career, and I agreed to take on the work.
Although the kind of work was familiar to me, there was something unique about this task, as I soon discovered: In my 40 years experience as a biologist, dealing with environmental issues, I have usually found that the issues are complex and subtle, and one can understand the positions taken on both sides. Such was not the case here. Never had I come across an issue in which the government response so blatantly ignored simple and obvious facts and conditions. Never had a case been so clear nor the response of a government agency so misguided and inappropriate.
Yet more recently the federal government of Canada also approved the mining road. This seems to be a classic example of our current issues concerning environment, development, and people. Rather than a 21 st century as a time of good will and good intentions by governments, a time that would have fit in with the traditional idea of progress, we seem to be witnessing a return to the early nineteenth century attitudes of exploitation and one-time use of our resources. And so I want to share the work of our independent panel with you, the readers of this Website. You can read the final report online, in PDF format.
Copyright © 2005 Daniel B. Botkin
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