Douglas Hunter’s fascinating piece “Temperature Rising” [Spring 2007] contained a sidebar that made my temperature rise. The sidebar promotes the erroneous idea that uncontrolled, rapacious logging operations in the boreal forest must be stopped because they are “a cause of global warming.” Included in the sidebar is the statement, “At the same time that greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, forests – which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and are our best defence against global warming – are being cut down.” In a subsequent comment attributed to ForestEthics about the rate of harvesting, most readers will be left with the impression that climate change can be stopped if logging is stopped, and that forestry is a significant “cause of global warming.”

A glance at relevant publications produced by reputable organizations will confirm that the contribution of sustainable forest management and the forest products industry is much more beneficial than detrimental.

The website of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resource (MNR) confirms that the harvest of wood on Crown land is highly regulated, and that MNR and the forest industry are working very hard to practise holistic “sustainable forest management” in the process of harvesting that wood and regenerating the forests from which it comes.
Kandyd Szuba, Domtar Inc.,
Nairn Centre

Flying squirrels

In the article “Land before time” [Summer 2007], it is stated that “the northern flying squirrel, a creature typical of northern boreal forests, reach their southern limits in the [Frontenac] arch.”

This statement, as I read it, is not correct. The northern flying squirrel is found farther south than the Frontenac Arch. In Ontario, the northern flying squirrel can be found in the Rouge Valley and at Hilton Falls near Milton, and many geographic locations north of these areas, which are located south of the Frontenac Arch.

Moreover, the southern flying squirrel was removed from the COSEWIC list in April 2006. Why? Range expansion likely due to climate change (warming).

It is indeed unusual for a mammal to be removed from such a list, and we should celebrate this action, at first glance. However, in the case of the southern flying squirrel, we suspect climate change has allowed [the species] to survive winters in parts of Ontario that would previously have been too inhospitable. In 2003, I was trapping on Crown land for northern flying squirrels (as part of an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources [MNR] landscape ecology initiative) just outside of Killbear Provincial Park, and I caught only southern flying squirrels. This was, at the time, the farthest north they had ever been recorded. Later that year, Jeff Bowman of MNR found them a hundred or so kilometres north of Killbear. The next year, none were found, as the winter was severely cold and a high dieoff was experienced. Two steps forward, one step back.

So why should we not celebrate the southern flying squirrel’s sudden range expansion? The general southern flying squirrel population carries a relatively harmless (to it) parasitic nematode that lives in the gut as a non-lethal entity, but in areas where the northern and southern species of flying squirrel are sympatric, the nematode can be passed to the northern species. The nematode is always fatal to the northern flying squirrel.

This could, down the road, present serious problems for southern and central Ontario’s native northern flying squirrel population.
Steve Patterson,

Correction: In the article “The lessons of the Spanish” (Summer 2007), the Spanish River Waterway Provincial Park is described as 400 kilometres wide. Wishful thinking on our part perhaps. The park is only 400 metres wide.