Nature Canada, an Ottawa-based charity that’s been around since 1939, recently added its name to an alliance of environmental groups lambasting the federal and provincial governments on forestry issues, claiming they were complicit with the forest industry in “spinning” the truth.

Nature Canada (and its alliance partners) charged the federal department of Natural Resources Canada, in particular, with using “highly selective statistics;” “distorting or excluding information;” making “questionable and misleading claims;” offering “limited or selected information;” and “(relying) heavily on omission and redirection.” That’s quite a charge sheet.

Perhaps Nature Canada (and the others, for that matter) should have a closer look at their own claims. Nature Canada, for example, recently asked Canadians to fill out a survey and to petition the federal government on caribou related issues. In its plug, Nature Canada claimed that the forest industry was “tearing the (Canadian) Boreal Forest to shreds.” It labelled this as “decimation,” and bemoaned the “ferocious pace” of industrial logging.[1]

OK, we know rhetoric when we see it, and accept that Nature Canada wants to draw attention and support for its cause (including financial). But as a charity focussed on nature and forest issues, one would think that it would know some basic facts, like the size of the boreal forest, and the extent of logging within it. Indeed, it does refer to 400,000 hectares being logged, which is reasonably close to a Canada Forest Service estimate. So, Nature Canada does know how much was logged in recent years. But apparently (more on this in a minute) it doesn’t know the size of the Canadian Boreal Forest.

Because for some inexplicable reason, it fails to tell the Canadian public that the 400,000-hectare logging represents a mere 0.16% of the boreal forest. Yes, the Canadian Boreal is being “decimated” and “torn to shreds” by a “ferocious” industry that’s logging a mere 0.16% of it! Or 2% over the last 15 years.[2]

It gets worse. Because in a backgrounder on its website, Nature Canada actually spells out the size of the Canadian Boreal.[3]  So, Nature Canada clearly knows how much logging is occurring in the boreal, and the size of the boreal. It just doesn’t tell the Canadian public the relationship between the two! That a mere 0.16% of the boreal forest is being logged in any given year. It’s much, much easier to demonise the forest industry as some sort of rapacious Evil Empire.

If this is not “spinning” the truth, I don’t know what is. Nature Canada is using “highly selective statistics,” yes. “Distorting or excluding information,” yes. Making “questionable and misleading claims,” yes. Offering “limited or selected information,” yes. Relying heavily on “omission and redirection,” yes.  

There’s a word for calling somebody out for false and misleading claims when you are making them yourself: hypocrisy. I think most people would find it a little rich of Nature Canada to accuse others of “spinning” the truth, when it’s doing the very same thing itself.

P.S. I have nothing personal against Nature Canada. It does some good stuff. I just can’t stand BS.

[1] Nature Canada, Caribou campaign,   (accessed 20 February, 2024)

[2] Canada Forest Service analysis covering the years 2000 to 2015. The estimates were 453,600 hectares harvested from between 270 and 285 million hectares of boreal forest (there’s a variation because of different mapping interpretations). That’s 0.15% or 0.16%.

[3] Nature Canada, Canada’s Boreal Forest, (Accessed 20 February, 2024). Nature Canada needs to clean up its terminology too. Its backgrounder confuses the distinction between the Canadian Boreal Zone and the Canadian Boreal Forest. The zone (552 million hectares) comprises 270 million hectares of forest; 39 million hectares of semi-boreal or transitional wooded land; 171 million hectares of other land including some with tree cover; and 71 million hectares of lakes, ponds, and rivers. (National Forestry Inventory). The 270 million hectares of forest is the Canadian Boreal Forest portion of the zone, with some 70% of it left as wilderness (unmanaged).