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Lady of the Lakes

Nature Diane Orihel set her PhD aside to lead a massive protest when Canada tried to shut down its unique Experimental Lakes Area. It was an ominous way to start the day. When she arrived at work on the morning of 17 May 2012, Diane Orihel ran into distraught colleagues. Staff from Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area had just been called to an emergency meeting at the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg. “It can’t be good,” said one.

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In carbon sequestration, money grows on trees

Guyana’s tropical rainforests protected under the REDD program provide not just natural resources but an income stream to the country. Two hours south of Georgetown, Guyana, a paved highway recedes, giving way to a rutted red road gushing through thick rainforest. In its muddiest spots, the road swallows trucks and spits them out at dangerous angles. Many hours later, it leads to an area of protected land called Iwokrama, a Rhode Island-size forest in the heart of Guyana, crowded with ancient buttress-trunked trees draped in liana vines. [media-credit name=”Hannah Hoag” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]Since 2003, Jake Bicknell has been a fixture within … Read more…

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Mixed Reviews for Quebec’s Plan Nord

The government of Quebec (Canada) has launched its multibillion-dollar Plan Nord, which will open the vast northern reaches of the province to mining and energy development–and protect 50% of the territory from economic development. The 1.2-million-square-kilometre region—twice the size of France—is known for its wild rivers, biodiversity, diverse ecosystems and a large swath (about 20%) of Canada’s boreal forest. Boreal forest covers more than 25% of Quebec. More than 120,000 people, including 33,000 aboriginals also live in the region. Quebec Premier Jean Charest said yesterday the government will invest CDN$80 billion into mining, forestry, transportation, energy development and tourism over the … Read more…

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Think small

The Canadian forestry industry could hinge on the most abundant nanomaterial on earth. A pale grey slurry roils about in a waist-high blue plastic drum at the centre of a garage-like space at the National Research Council’s Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal. It looks a little like slush, but when it is dried it more closely resembles one of the fine white powders chefs stock in their kitchens. For the handful of chemists hovering about the room, it’s the stuff dreams are made of. For Canada’s faltering forestry industry, it is a beacon of optimism. Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) is nature’s … Read more…

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River metals linked to tar sand extraction

Researchers find that pollutants in Canada’s Athabasca River are not from natural sources. Oil-mining operations in Canada’s main tar sands region are releasing a range of heavy and toxic metals — including mercury, arsenic and lead — into a nearby river and its watershed, according to a new study. Research published online yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that 13 elements classified as priority pollutants (PPEs) by the US Environmental Protection Agency were found in the Athabasca River in the province of Alberta1. Seven of these were present at high enough concentrations to put aquatic … Read more…