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GEO Year Book 2004/5  
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New policies and regulations were put in place this year to protect coastal and ocean resources, and to prevent emissions of mercury and particulates that threaten human health. North America needs to act quickly to implement these.

Cooperative efforts to protect and monitor environmental issues and ecosystems shared between Canada and the United States could be stepped up, such as those fostered by the CEC. Canada 's progress in forest certification should be emulated by other regions.

Our Changing Environment
Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec, Canada: Clearcut logging

These images show the impact of clearcut logging in the Gaspé peninsula, Quebec, the Canadian province with the highest total logged area. Historically, forest covered about 95 per cent of the Gaspé Peninsula. Typical tree species include fir, birch and maple.

The left image shows natural forest with some clearcutting, in September 1993. The second image from August 2004 shows clearcutting in the same area, with recent cuts shown in brighter tones. Saplings and ground vegetation emanate brighter greens in less recent cut areas. The uncut, standing forest is a dark green colour. Bright white areas are clouds and black areas are their shadows. More than 40 000 ha have been cleared in the area represented here.

Forests are crucial to Canada’s economy and natural patrimony. Canada has about 10 per cent of all the world’s forests, and of the country’s 909 million ha of land area, 402 million ha are forest and woodland.

Of the 145 million ha considered accessible, about one million ha are harvested each year. The forest industry is worth about US$82 billion annually and exports almost US$40 billion. Direct employment in the forest sector in 2003 was some 376 300 person-years.

The practice of clearcutting has serious environmental effects. It can have a major impact on plant and animal biodiversity, soil erosion, and microclimates. By increasing sediment in rivers and increasing water temperatures it can also seriously affect fish such as salmon.

Source: UNEP/GRID – Sioux Falls

Sources: CCRS/NRC 2004, UNEP/GRID – Sioux Falls

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