April 25, 2005

CEC requests facts on claims of inaction relating to destruction of migratory bird nests

The Council of the Commission for Environmental Co-operation of North America (CEC) has directed the CEC Secretariat to combine two submissions pertaining to Ontario logging (designated SEM-04-006, Ontario Logging II, and SEM-02-001, Ontario Logging) in order to develop a single consolidated factual record on allegations that Canada is failing to enforce environmental legislation effectively with regard to clearcut logging carried out in 2001 in 53 forest management units (FMUs) of central and northern Ontario.

The submissions, filed by a coalition of nature groups, claim that no enforcement action was taken against companies whose logging activities resulted in the destruction of thousands of migratory birds' nests, in violation of section 6(a) of the migratory bird regulations under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994. This section of the regulations makes it an offence to disturb, destroy or take a nest or egg of a migratory bird without a permit.

The initial Ontario Logging submission was filed in February 2002 by the Canadian Nature Federation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Earthroots, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Great Lakes United, Sierra Club (in Canada and the U.S.) and the Wildlands League; they were collectively represented by Sierra Legal Defence Fund. They alleged that more than 85,000 migratory bird nests were destroyed in 59 Ontario FMUs during 2001. The groups later revised this figure to 44,000 nests, based on additional information gathered. The CEC Secretariat recommended the preparation of a factual record on this claim in November 2002 and again in March 2004.

The Ontario Logging II submission was filed by the coalition in October 2004, providing supplementary 2001 harvest information. Last December, the Secretariat's third recommendation for a factual record called for consolidation of this submission with the original. Pursuant to the directive, an amended overall work plan for the factual record has been sent to the Canadian, U.S. and Mexican authorities (as parties to the North American Agreement on Environmental Co-operation).

A factual record seeks to provide detailed factual information allowing interested persons to assess whether a Party is failing to effectively enforce its environmental law in connection with the matter raised in the submission. In accordance with Article 15(7) of NAAEC, the CEC Council may, by a two-thirds vote, make the final factual record publicly available.

More information is available on the CEC Web site, www.cec.org.

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