The Great Lakes hold 1/5th of the world's fresh surface water supply and currently provide drinking water to over 42 million people. The health of these lakes is critical. The Great Lakes Campaign works to address the concerns related to the Great Lakes Basin, water conservation, and pollution prevention. The specific problems in the Great Lakes have changed over time, but the broader issues have remained – those of deteriorating water quality through industrial and municipal uses, fluctuating water levels, flooding, and shoreline erosion.
Ontario Chapter Campaigns
Sierra Club Ontario's Greenbelt Campaign is currently focused on Protecting and Growing the Greenbelt. Building on support from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, Sierra Club Ontario has been making advances in protecting threatened ecosystems in Peel and Durham Region.
Sierra Club Peel Group is a group of concerned citizens who volunteer their time to carry out environmental campaigns and conservation projects within the Peel Region. The group's aim is to educate and empower the residents of Peel to be defenders and responsible stewards of the natural environment. The Peel group is currently working on five project areas:
Natural Capital refers to the stock of natural resources and environmental assets, and how they contribute to building healthy communities. The Natural Capital perspective is a way of placing a monetary value on the benefits, known as ecological goods and services, that nature naturally provides to humans. Examples include: regulating climate, water purification, erosion control, flood protection, and providing health benefits.
Natural Capital is a way of communicating how much nature is worth, in the hopes to make better policy and development decisions in the future.
In Ontario, coal power plants supply approximately 10% of the energy used to power factories, homes and businesses. However, the negative environmental effects of burning coal are well known: increasing CO2 and methane concentrations in the atmosphere and release of toxic heavy metals.
Land in North Pickering was expropriated during the 1970's to be used as an airport. The plans were contested from the start and citizens stopped the original proposal. Now, thirty years later the issue has resurfaced. This time it is not only the lands at risk, but also the last remaining undeveloped habitat to many species.
The manner in which we deal with our ''waste" is a key part of the foundation of a sustainable world. Isn't sustainability another word for balance? We must learn how to use the world's resources such as wood, rocks, metals and oil in a more balanced manner.
Our Great Lakes Campaign committee is looking at environmental education programs for water conservation and advocating for stronger policies for pollution prevention. We work collaboratively with the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter in the States to implement solutions dedicated to restoring and protecting the health of these lakes.
Other concerns are acid rain, airborne toxics, depletion of wetland areas, increased demands on the shoreline land base. The impacts associated with the introduction of exotic species, and climate change, as well as drug residues in sewage effluent and the discovery that flame-retardants leaking from computers and mattresses are building up rapidly in the tissues of many animals living in the lakes.
Canada's most important natural resource is its forests which provide timber, pulpwood, wildlife habitat and a wealth of recreational opportunities. But the forests are not limitless and all Canadians must share a renewed commitment to their wise use and management.
Within the conservation movement, sustainable forestry means forest practices that ensure that the structure, function and composition of the forest are maintained in perpetuity. It also entails the equitable distribution of forest resource benefits, and the opportunity for the public to be involved in a meaningful way. After all, the forests of Ontario are ours—88% of forested land is Crown land, held for the people of Ontario in trust by the provincial government.