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Letter from Erhard Kraus  to Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources, John Snobelen, June 1, 1998. Copies were sent to the three Round Tables.


Mr. Chairman, Members of the Round Table,

please let me express my view on sharing crown lands between mining and logging on one hand, and wilderness tourism on the other. In my experience, it should not be done as the wilderness tourism will suffer.

I am starting up a small canoeing business and thus have assessed the essentials and chances for success. I am focusing on customers from countries other than Canada and the US as I believe that this is where the growth in the market is possible. People from Europe and Asia have the money to spend and the interest to see our beautiful North: we can extrapolate the potential for such business from the success of the "Ann of Green Gables" house in PEI or the Banff tourist area.

Key to such business success is a first-rate product as such customers have high expectations and shop around, choosing amongst the many locations on the globe. The mountain trails of Nepal, Wildlife in Africa, the Barrier Reef, the rugged parks of the Chilean Andes, Norway's North Cape, the Yukon's Nahanni river and Switzerland's alpine landscapes are examples of the competition that we have to measure up to. Our north can easily match the beauty of the competition, and an outfitter can offer a competitive product.

But if resource extraction is allowed to share in the same forests, the resulting product for tourism can at best be second-rate. If the land beyond the river's edge is stripped of its trees, if mining trucks rumble along the same roads as the curious tourist, if dams bar the river valley, a customer will not be satisfied. Australia does not allow mining Ayer's rock, the Swiss guard their forests jealously, and African states support the international effort to preserve their wildlife - because it makes for good business. The same holds for Ontario: we must protect areas for remote tourism and preserve their untouched beauty.

I am urging you to designate areas for remote tourism and shield them from the scarring effects of resource extraction. This will not only preserve the potential for remote tourism. It will also confirm our reputation as a nation that preserves ecologies. Last not least, the market success of Ontario's lumber and mining industries will depend on Ontario's record of environmental preservation.

Sincerely yours,

                Erhard Kraus

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