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Canada: Transforming the Northern Landscape

Source:  Copyright 2006, Inter Press Service
Date:  July 19, 2006
Byline:  Stephen Leahy
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Over much of northern Canada, there is little more than trees, rocks, lakes and wetlands. But in northeastern Alberta, the landscape is changing dramatically as strip mining peels off the forest and soil to reach a molasses-like viscous oil mixed with sand and clay 40 to 60 metres below the surface.

About 40 percent of the area is wetlands, some of which have been drained and rivers diverted to prevent flooding of the mine sites. One of the world's most spectacular wetlands is found here, and despite its recognised ecological importance, is now slated to be strip mined.

The McClelland Lake Wetland Complex is about 120 kms north of the oil sands boom town of Fort McMurray Alberta. The complex is comprised of McClelland Lake, 12 sinkholes, and a remarkably beautiful and intricate, ancient patterned fen. The complex is home to numerous rare plants, including five insect-eating species.

Scientists like Richard Thomas ...

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